Is your creative well running dry?
With all of what´s been happening this year. All the COVID 19 pandemic up and downs, we all have to admit: we can’t run an engine at full speed forever.
Most people have some type of everyday uncertainty — whether it’s financial, professional, personal, or related to a relationship — but over the past several months, everything has changed.
Not only are we dealing with our usual sources of uncertainty, but then there’s the whole global pandemic, where we’re trying to stop the spread of a virus we have never seen in humans before.
I think copywriters and designers suffer from creative burnout regularly as ideas are our business. But, whether you’re a creative type or not, it’s important to keep the ideas factory you call your brain working at peak efficiency.
We’re not just in uncharted waters — we’re scrambling to stay afloat. As it turns out, there are ways to more effectively deal with feelings of uncertainty and embrace what’s next with some level of confidence (even if it’s very low).
One of my tips to avoid creative burnout is to give myself enough time to be creative. Don’t just let your brain recover in a pool of wine and roast dinners. Give yourself this time every day.
There´s a book I came across while searching for something interesting to read to avoid all the stress I have gained this year: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
According to some comments on the internet, a lot of people know this book because the process of unleashing your creative self isn’t just for artists.
So here it goes what I have learned from it:
Write morning pages
Start each day with unstructured writing time. Don’t write a book or a blog. Just set a timer and write whatever pops into your head — without stopping.
I find this process incredibly efficient at decluttering my brain.
I have a terrible habit of looking at my phone when I wake up, which usually means I jolt my brain awake with social media posts to read or respond to and emails I received overnight.
Writing my morning pages helps me to clear the slate of what is essentially brain clutter.
Now, morning pages and meditation might seem a bit too Zen for you, but if you want to give your brain the space it needs to be creative, then find your way to clear the slate of low-priority or non-urgent things that are screaming for your attention but don’t need it. (Also try to unsubscribe for all newsletters that are spamming your inbox and a daily basis).
Schedule creative project time
The next part of the time equation is making sure your project timeline supports creative thinking.
You need time to put yourself in your clients’ shoes, mull over their frustrations and their challenges, and consider potential solutions from different angles. While you have to put a cap on your brainstorming time, your copywriting project schedule does need to factor it in if you don’t want to take disastrous shortcuts.
Fact: I used to have a job at the same time I have my freelance practice and my last day was just last Friday. All my colleagues at my department have lost our jobs because of the economic crisis brought by the COVID 19 pandemic and yesterday I was at the last step of a project I need to send for revision this Monday and I realized that somehow I missed basic steps at the beginning of it which brought me to redo some things and loose quality time for myself. My head has been so full of different thoughts and emotional states of mind.
Make a creative lifetime
An extension of giving your brain space to be creative is making sure your life supports creative thinking.
Sounds important, doesn’t it? However, it’s like one of those “spend more quality time with your kids/partner/pet/yourself” things — important but easily squished in the priority list as you keep laying the next bit of track down.
One way I’ve made this kind of time is to prioritize creative activities. Watch a movie, go to museums, go to an art gallery, or just grab your pen and paper and start drawing.
There will always be more emails. There will always be a hot new marketing strategy you can implement. There will always be podcasts to listen to and blog posts to read (or create). These are just part of being a freelance designer (like myself) and a business owner.
But giving your brain new information and ideas also gives it more inputs to connect in quiet moments. Those unforced connections help you flex and strengthen your creative muscles.
By making regular time in your life to be creative, you’re more likely to slip into the smoking jacket of creativity more easily.
I know the results are cumulative because this process also works the other way.
When you stop making time to let your brain recover from constant designing and planning and looking for projects and run wild creatively (without structure) now and then, you begin to feel like you’re running out of track.
So how much time are we talking?
Decluttering time, creative project time, lifetime…when you’re already busy (and aren’t we all), it can feel like there is no more time to spare.
So, let’s break it down:
A daily brain declutter: 15–30 minutes
Project time: 1–2 hours for creative thinking on each project. (This is only as an orientation, I know every project has its timeline).
Lifetime: Half a day, once a month
If you have no-work weekends, fantastic (I do recommend them), but make time to do something that fills your creative well with new input.
When you lay it out, that’s not a lot of time. At all.
Consider this post the kick up the bum we both need to value creative time.
It’s good for your brain, and it’s good for business. Creativity isn’t just about creating art. It can involve creative problem solving, creative strategies, and of course creative designing, writing, cooking, or any other activity you work in.
So, how about you? How much time do you make to feed your creativity?
Do you think it’s important? Or, is it a load of nonsense that successful business people don’t have time for?
I’d love to know your thoughts.
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