3 Keys to Unlocking Creative Energy

Image created using Bryce and PhotoshopI confess I am a deadline guy. Looming deadlines seem to spur the creative juices.

I hate it.

Why you may ask? Because I generally look at what I create just in time to meet the deadline and come up with a hundred ways it could be better. If I had finished it sooner I could have made the fixes!!

Truth be told different folks have different methods for getting the creative juices flowing but I believe there are three keys that pretty consistently serve to unlock the valve, if not the floodgates.

Key #1: Emotion
There are studies that show a direct correlation between positive emotion and creative problem solving. This is no surprise. When we’re happy the world and possibility seem to expand, it’s all big and bold and good.

Interestingly the same studies show a direct correlation between negative emotions and focus. This is no surprise either. When things are going downhill quickly, like when our lives are threatened, a heightened sense of focus comes in handy.

So which emotional state is best?

I land on anything that is deeply felt that does NOT instantly create a fight or flight response. Fear and anger, both negative emotions, generally produce flight or fight responses but deep sorrow or longing, also potentially “negative” emotions tend to produce reflection.

Anything that you feel deeply that doesn’t make you want to instantly sprint or destroy is an emotional state that can unlock the door to creative endeavor.

Key #2: Motivation
My love hate relationship with deadlines is a motivation thing. That extra blast of “have to” helps get me going even if I haven’t had a solid idea working prior to crunch time.  For a lot of folks who claim to have trouble “being creative” the problem is not creativity but motivation. Ask yourself ‘why?’ Why is it that I am trying to create something here?

Ask me to come up with a commercial jingle for toothpaste as an assignment for a class and I’ll deliver something passably good. Ask me to write one to win my kid a college scholarship and I’m primed to go. EVEN IF THE EFFORT I PUT IN IS THE SAME!

If I sit down to write a blog post because it is Tuesday and I need something for Wednesday morning that’s low motivation.  If I sit down to write a blog post that I think will get re-posted and think about how it might help the folks who regularly read my blog the motivation is at an even higher level. If I believe I’ve come across a unique perspective that is a game changer the motivation goes through the roof. Don’t take your motivation for granted, ask yourself why.

Effort counts, don’t get me wrong, but checking your motivation and getting THAT right helps the juices flow.

Key #3: Path
A lot of folks have a creative process…which feels like an oxymoron to me…or a place where they create. Those processes and places become part of a path to delivering the goods. But lets take an example from physical exercise. Studies show that over time your body gets used to the same types of exercise and thus your return diminishes.

The places and processes that form our paths can also become hindrances over time. Sometimes we need a different perspective, we need to take a different route, perhaps change our surroundings just to shake things up a bit.

Starting out down a different path leads to new discoveries which become the fodder for creative inspiration.

Emotion and Path are usually pretty self evident but how do you handle the Motivation question?

2 responses to “3 Keys to Unlocking Creative Energy

  1. I handle the motivation question in a variety of ways. The two biggest are the Holy Spirit and reading. When I need motivation, I pray. I ask the Lord to send His Holy Spirit to give me the motivation I need for the task, day, week, etc. ahead. He always comes through. The second is reading. The more I read (books, magazines, blog posts, doesn’t matter), the more motivated I am to write and help others. I get so many ideas that way, and I see the people I love in those ideas. I am greatly motivated in this process. It’s like my thoughts and ideas are put in order when I do these things, and I become more clear on why I need to do what I’ve set as a goal. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and undermotivated, I go back to those two things before I try anything else. A close third would be exercise, especially running and biking. But, since I’m on a long-term injury, that isn’t an option at the moment. Also, it’s worth nothing that these three are interrelated too. They seem to all happen in a way that connects my ideas and thoughts and add even more motivation.

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