Over the last two years I have personally channeled a period of creativity and inspiration far surpassing anything that I had ever previously experienced.
I have published a book on career planning which is now selling well both online and in retail bookstores. I have written 115 pages in my second book (target release late 2015), and I’m 150 pages into an e-book which I will publish later this year. I’ve written well over 300 original blog posts on topics relating to entrepreneurialism, personal empowerment, and marketing, have published many more outside of my blog, and devised hundreds of new marketing strategies and plans for the various businesses that I’m involved in as principal, or consultant to.
I credit this inspirational bounty to a strategy that I learned from Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art. A strategy that I now successfully employ every day, and one that has utterly changed my life, and created a personally unprecedented level of production and creativity.
So how does one get personal inspiration to create something?
We are all creators, in some form. Being a creator isn’t reserved for the artists, musicians, and writers among us. If you have a business them you are a creator – you have to create ways to market your business. You have to create systems and structures to make your business run smoothly. If you have a job, you’re still a creator. You have to use your mind at some point and create something that didn’t previously exist. If you are a creator, then you need inspiration. You need ideas.
Where do ideas come from? When I finally grasped the truth, it hit me like an avalanche:
Ideas have far more to do with your Ass, than they do your mind or your heart.
What am I getting at?
I’ll use my writing as an example. At a recent book signing for my book Unsuited, I had someone, who follows my blog ask me how I am always coming up with new ideas – how do I blog so often? Where do the ideas come from? Here is my answer:
Ideas come from sitting down.
What does that mean?
It means that commitment to follow a course of action is far more important than anything else. I believe that the Muse is real, and I have been inspired, out of left field many times, to write about something, or create a marketing campaign, based on an idea that wasn’t in my mental atmosphere. But the ideas always come when I’m already in the process of working.
Here is a quote from W. Somerset Maugham that perfectly articulates my point:
I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.
Let me use a very specific example. Two years ago, based on the advice of Pressfield (The War of Art), Stephen King (in his book “On Writing“) and Seth Godin (from one of his blog posts), I decided that the only way to become a writer was literally to write. I decided that I was going to write 500 words a day, no matter what. It could be in the form of a blog post, a book, an article, an essay to myself – heck it could be random musings that no one would ever read – but I would still get it done. I have kept that commitment every day.
In the process of meeting my quota I have been touched by the Muse many times. Many times the Muse has whispered in my ear telling me to pursue an idea that I wasn’t previously thinking about, but the Muse always seems to appear, in my case, while I am already doing my work. It’s like I have to prove to her my commitment first. I have to prove that I’m for real, that I’m going to grind out these 500 words before she’ll touch me with inspiration, and many times that inspiration comes 200 words in. Often those first 200 words are garbage, and I end up getting rid of them, but after the inspiration touches me I hit flow and my work is good.
Inspiration never seems to touch me until after I have shown my commitment to complete a specific course of work.
I joke with my wife about this all the time. I tell her that the bells of the apocalypse could be ringing and I’m still going to churn out these 500 words. The city could be in ruins, the marauding invaders are breeching the walls, if I’m at 450 words, I’m not moving until 500 are done.
My ass is far more important, when seeking inspiration, than my mind or my heart.
This is the secret to getting inspiration on a constant basis: When you have this type of mindset, and commitment, inspiration comes to you, but it comes to you in the course of you doing your work.
So when someone tells me they are having a hard time coming up with ideas – ideas for a business, ideas for a marketing plan, ideas for writing, ideas for creating anything – anything at all – I believe that they aren’t committed.
They are dabblers. Inspiration and ideas always come to those who are committed. The following lines from Goethe are as true today as when he first said them:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.
That is the secret. There is no other secret. If you want to trigger an unprecedented period of personal productivity and creativity you have to first definitely commit to a course of action, and actually execute that course of action, every day for a sustained period of time.
So if you want to build a business but you aren’t sure how to market your idea, you have work on marketing every single day for a couple of hours. It doesn’t matter if Alien spaceships are hovering over your house, you stay on that phone, you stay at that computer, you stay at your task until you’re done. If you do that for an extended period of time I guarantee you’ll have creativity.
You fancy yourself a writer? Or Artist? I dare you to hit a quota every single day. Even if you throw away the draft and never let anyone read it. Every single day, even if the nuclear bombs are going off in your peripheral view, you sit down, and do not move until your 500 words are done.
When you do this, you are signalling to the universe that “you are for real” and when you do that, the Muse smiles in your favor, and directs your paths in ways that you wouldn’t have initially discovered or pursued.