Earlier in my career, I did things in a very consistent, structured manner, with my days packed full.
Over the last four years as I’ve walked a path of transformation from pushing against the tide, to tapping into my intuition, creativity and working from flow, I’ve come to learn the importance of allowing for creativity to flourish.
And, the more that I’ve learned to allow creative flow to happen, the more I felt in conflict with everything being consistently planned in my schedule…
It was an internal struggle, because we need consistency….
Consistency is a way to create order.
However, creative flow is a way to create magic. And often, creative flow can’t be forced. The very essence of creating and being in flow is the opposite of creating order.
The problem with a creative flow only approach, is that it can lead to going many directions, without focus behind any one effort (know a creative with six different businesses, none of which are making money and it’s all a bit overwhelming?). That can be the result of un-checked creativity.
Conversely, the act of being rigid and structured can prevent a person from exploring their purpose and living a joyful existence.
I’ve experienced the deep aligned connection that can result from authentic writing. Writing and relating my experiences is my way to experience my own existence, while relating to and offering guidance for others, and it’s deeply fulfilling as it’s my way of living my purpose. For you, your connectedness may come in another form such as painting, photography, designing homes, writing music, helping people, taking care of animals, styling people to look their best: there are many ways that one can connect with their creativity and feel rooted in purpose.
I noticed over the last few years that when I’ve taken hold of moments of clarity, inspiration and energetic flow, that the outcomes from those flow sessions, have been the most impactful. It’s those times that I’ve written my most authentic and aligned content that people have responded to and shared how it helped them.
And that would not have been possible if I didn’t allow that moment of flow to come through.
Perhaps you’ve experienced this, a moment of great inspiration or clarity…. some people think of this as “receiving downloads.” You may experience it as a feeling or vision. For me, it shows up as moments of unfiltered energetic clarity that comes out in words, but it’s not rooted in my head, rather, it feels like energy flowing through me, free of my own human judgements or perceptions, it’s simply, clarity. I sit, and write, and I aim to think as little as possible and allow the words to flow from an energetic center instead. Some people think of it as a message coming from “Source,” or they feel “God,” in their life. Some think of it simply as “feeling creative.” You may not have any word for it, and that’s ok. My interest here is not to suggest where the inspiration comes from but rather, to offer solutions for how to allow more of that, among what can sometimes feel like the chaotic world of a creative.
Connected writing is personally rewarding, and allows me to be rooted in my purpose so I came into this year with a desire to explore, how to allow more of that in, while maintaining my growing responsibilities with two expanding companies, a growing client list and a band.
Knowing that there is a need for consistency, while also knowing that the magic is in creative flow, I set out to explore if there is a way to foster and nurture greater creativity, and maintain a commitment to delivering creative work, consistently.
I wanted to find out: Could I create some level of consistency to my creative endeavors, without stifling creativity?
I stepped into this experiment by committing to developing a weekly Personal Development email, Bite-Sized Transformation.
I committed to showing up consistently, in reader’s inboxes with a thoughtful, authentic message weekly, with strategies to help people make meaningful transformation in their lives. I knew that in order to create engaging and purposeful content, along with (sometimes failed) attempts at being funny, it would require allowing in more creative flow. I could not block an hour each week to perform on command: Be inspirational, Be Wise, Be Funny! No, it doesn’t work like that.
What I learned is that it is possible. Even if it’s not perfect, you can make meaningful progress,
if you prioritize your commitment and learn how to engage flow.
Here are the top things I learned, and 4 steps you can engage to nurture greater creativity, consistently:
Step 1: Commit to both Creativity and Consistency at the same time
Many creatives lament that traditional constructs don’t work for them. The 9-5 job: kills my creativity. Social norms: sucks the life from my vibes. Responsibility and bills: Doesn’t anyone value the arts anymore?
Typically, consistency, rules and schedules are kryptonite to a creative, however, if you are a creative who wishes to tap into creating more consistently, and perhaps to make a greater living from your creative endeavors, there is a necessary balance between consistency and flow, a yin and a yang. Everything balances.
Remember the guy with six creative ventures but none are making money? If you wish to have money to provide for the things you want in life, don’t be that guy.
And conversely, there was a time early in my business where I was rigidly committed to stacking my day full of meetings. This left me drained by the end of the day, and completely useless by the end of the week. I’d spend the entire weekend recovering, just to feel human again by Monday morning, with no space for creative thinking, or writing new songs with my band. I was stripped bare of what fed my soul. It was after doing that for awhile that I decided there had to be a way to achieve both; you know, you hear of those creative writers or musicians who are actually “making it.” I believed there had to be a way to be more like them…..
Step 1 that I learned in this journey is: Commit to consistency while creating flow.
Understand that it is possible to achieve. The next step, is to create the space so that you can create, consistently.
Step 2: Create space for your future Creativity
Once you’ve decided that consistent creativity is important to commit to, you’ve got to schedule the time for it.
I looked at my calendar and started blocking time for creativity. Now, creativity on demand can be a really tricky thing and doesn’t work for a lot of people. And how creativity works for me, in reality, is that it strikes whenever it darn well pleases. So, I sought to create more flexibility within my schedule, where things can be swapped around.
Here’s what I mean: if you look at my schedule, “flexibility” sounds like the biggest oxy-moron, because by outward appearance there is no flexibility in my schedule – it’s all scheduled up.
But here’s the thing, there are time blocks in the schedule to create space for FUTURE CREATIVITY.
In the past, when I’d leave open blocks in my calendar, I’d fill in last minute requests for coffee, lunches, or my team would think I was available for meetings. By filling every minute of my calendar with tasks and meetings, there was NO space left to allow in creativity. And it certainly wasn’t going to happen in the evening. By 7p, I was wiped.
I realized that if creativity and writing was important to me, I’d need to start reserving times on my calendar for it: creating future space. And to the part about how to schedule creativity time, without being forced to be creative on demand, here’s how that works for me:
I block time for creativity but I don’t force myself to only use that time, what I do is engage in the flow as much as possible when it shows up, and then whatever task was scheduled for that time, I move into the “creative time block.” This way, I’m still fulfilling my commitments consistently, while still allowing flow.
For example: If I wake up Tuesday morning with some awesome creativity flowing, but I have a client task scheduled for Tuesday morning, I move that client task into the other timeblock that I had blocked for CREATIVITY time and instead, I maximize that opportunity to tap into creative flow while it’s there.
What I found works for me is not to use the specific time I had blocked for creative writing or journaling, but as long as some time is blocked, then I can move other things around. I am planning for future creativity by creating space for it to exist within my calendar. If your calendar is packed tight, your psyche can’t even comprehend where or how it’s going to allow creativity to exist.
Play around with what works for you… if your career doesn’t allow for you to juggle tasks like that, try scheduling creative time after work or on weekends. The simple act of reserving space for creativity, allows it to become possible!
Step 3: Engage your Flow when It’s There
When creativity strikes, engage it! Now, there are times when I have a scheduled meeting that I can’t just shuffle to later in the week, “sorry, my creative energy is at work today!” What I do in those cases is make voice memos/voice recording my best friend! There are plenty of times that I’m literally walking into a meeting as I’m recording a voice memo into my phone… “don’t mind me, had a good idea! Had to record for later!”
Many clients who are building brands with them as the thought-leader and service provider tell me they struggle with writing. So I ask them questions about why they are passionate about what they do, their top advice for people, and so on. I sometimes type or write what they are saying and then read it back to them, and they are amazed at how great their ideas sound! This is a strategy that helps people who think they can’t write, or never know what to say on social media to become more natural: simply, record yourself talking/voice-to-memo! It literally takes the words right out of your mouth and onto a digital note that you can copy and paste onto social, or into a blog post later.
Even if you don’t have time to develop the full idea, get the initial thought out. Do whatever you need to do to remember the best parts of the idea:
- voice memos
- write it on paper
- take photos
- audio recordings
My husband often sneaks away from his desk to record audio messages of potential guitar riffs as he hears them in his head… he gets really embarrassed when I find those voice memos and it sounds like a man making aggressive sounding choo-train noises to himself, but hey, those choo-choo chugs have turned into some pretty wicked and powerful songs!
Step 4: Create Micro-Goals along the way.
In my experiment early on, I set micro-goals. My first important goal was to get the email done at some point within a week from the last email.
Early on, I missed a week. But then, I committed to at least getting the email out weekly.
Next goal: Send the emails between Tuesday-Thursday
Next goal: send emails consistently at 9a CST on Wednesdays
I haven’t always hit these goals perfectly, but all in all, looking over the past 4+ months, I’ve created some pretty special micro-trainings and strategies to help people engage their purpose and live more of their best life. I’ve received some email responses, and engagement is growing.
All in all, I feel rewarded and more rooted in my purpose than ever before.
As a creative, this has been possible because I chose to consistently nurture creative flow.
Remember, commit to both creativity and consistency at the same time,
decide it’s important enough to commit time to allow for future creativity,
engage the flow and baby step it along the way with micro-goals.
It IS possible to be both creative AND consistent. Even if it’s not done perfectly, over time, the magic unfolds!
Share with me, does this strategy work for you? What creativity has come forth from engaging flow?
If you’d like to receive my weekly commitment to creative flow, you can sign up for Bite Sized Transformations here!