How to navigate a creative reset

Six months ago, I wrote about a creative reset I was embarking on. Today, I would like to share an update, with advice on how to delve into a creative reset of your own. Let’s dig in…

What is a creative reset? Too often, we think of it as a massive change, the kind where you have to upend your life, quit your job, move away, and embark on a bold adventure. But I am experiencing it as something much smaller: a honing of purpose, focus, and effort. Finding clarity and turning that clarity into action.

A creative reset is a way of seeing who we are. Of growing at any age. Of sharing in a way that connects others into inspiration, assistance, or each other. It can also help you better understand not only how to live up to your creative vision, but best share it with others. If you are struggling to figure out how to best market your work, keep reading. I think you may see lots of ideas that blend creativity and sharing in a way that feels authentic to who you are, and connect with others in a meaningful way.

This is what it is looking like for me right now:

Back in the Studio
Each month for the past 14 months, I sent in the rent check for my studio, but didn’t show up there regularly. That was a personal decision to be present at home with my wife and kids during a complicated time. Each month I sent in that check, I was placing a bet on myself. On my future. It was a promise to myself that this space is worth investing in. Because the space represents more than its physicality — it is the space for my inspiration and my work to flourish.

I arrived back at the studio this week.

If you are embarking on your own creative reset, consider how you can give yourself space to explore. That doesn’t mean you need to rent an office, it can be as simple as taking a walk, creating from the park, or rethinking where your creative work happens. A writer I once worked with used to go to the same parking space at Walmart (a spot under a shady tree) and write for 30-60 minutes each day. This was during her commute home from work.

Another writer I know, Jan Sheehan, used this as her writing studio this week, writing from her car parked at a local bluff:

Creative space is all around us, if you define it that way.

Prioritizing the Creative Reset

When I began this creative reset last year, I took two actions to support it:

  1. I created a daily recurring calendar reminder to work on the creative reset every single day. I made time for it in my life, each morning when I knew I had the most creative focus. Had I left it as an optional assignment for when I felt I had “spare time,” I rarely would have gotten to it. Make what matters to you a priority in your life. Add it to your calendar, and block out time each day to attend to it.
  2. I developed a spreadsheet to write down all of my ideas for improvements to my work as part of the reset. This meant I had to get past vague notions for what I wanted to do. In each line of the spreadsheet was a very specific task. Each day, I had to work on one of them. Getting specific about changes helped me not only understand where I wanted to go, but how to get there.

Each day, I had to take one small action to push the reset forward. Sometimes this took a half hour, but many days it took a few minutes. Small consistent steps have made a massive difference, and the calendar and spreadsheet became the support system for it.

Asking, How Can I Do Better?

A fair amount of my creative reset has focused on how to better serve the writers I work with. This is the heart of what I have done for the past decade with spending each day in the trenches with writers and creators on how to best share their work and grow their platform. Even though it has been going really well, I wanted to see where I could improve. The results surprised me.

I looked at every process with a question of how I could improve it. This has led me to changing how I work with people, and developing new resources to help them more quickly and with even better results. In some ways, it feels night and day, how I work now compared to a year or two ago. The feedback from recent clients has been off the charts too.

Too often, when we look at a creative reset, we ask, “What else should I be doing.” We assume that growth can only come from adding new things to the mix, and that if you could just figure out what you aren’t yet doing, that is the secret to a massive breakthrough. But I have been asking the opposite, instead questioning how can I do the same exact things, but better? Instead of spinning my wheels with “bold new ideas,” I’m investing in the people I love working with, and the processes that help them share their message. This has added new layers to the work that feel incredibly meaningful, and effective.

A New Podcast Season

With the creative reset, I decided to end the current podcast season this week. I want to take a month or two to improve the podcast overall, and map out a new season of episodes. I’ve been doing a version of this podcast for a decade. Even back in the 1990s, I was interviewing creators for the music fanzine I published, and got to chat with members of Oasis, They Might Be Giants, Weezer, Blur, and many others.

For the next season, I did something I have never tried before: mapping out an entire year of episodes all at once. I created a document with 52 lines, one for each week of the year, a blank slate. I considered who I would love to talk to, what topics to cover, and how to infuse the podcast with a clear sense of purpose for listeners.

I also brainstormed a wide range of actions to improve the podcast in small ways, from where it is shared, to how it is recorded, to the structure of the episodes themselves. In many ways, the podcast has always felt like a hobby because it is a total joy to interview creators who inspire me. But in considering how I can do it better, I’m realizing that there are many improvements that can better serve the guests and listeners.

My book

About a year ago, I stopped working on my next book. That was a decision to put more focus on being present with my family, and for my clients. With the return to the studio, I have more creative space to write again. My plan is to open up the draft of the book in June to revisit it for the first time in a year.

It’s funny, the manuscript has something like 75,000 words, a solid structure and clear intention. There is a title and back of book copy already written, and I’ve gone through rounds and rounds of edits on it. But, I have no idea how I will feel about it after so much time away. I’m excited about that, because I know that time will only make the book stronger.

I think it is common for people to step away from creative projects because of how busy life can be. But stepping back into them is a key part of honoring that work, and ensuring what we create connects with people.

More Social Media

I am consistently on Instagram, Twitter and other social media throughout the day, and have always found it to be a powerful way to connect with others. Much like the items above, I’m considering how I can better show up for writers and creators in this space. I wrote about my social media reset back in February, and I’m entering a new phase of that.

I’m liking the idea of sharing more resources, and doing more with video and collaboration. I have no idea what that will look like yet, but I’ve been experimenting more and more with what I share, especially on Instagram.

If you want to see and hear me talk through everything above (and more!), check out my latest podcast episode.