Working outside of inspiration

Sometimes there's a muse for creating. Sometimes there isn't. Either way, you have to put some work.

Working outside of inspiration

Sometimes you just don’t feel like it. Sometimes there’s stuff working against you; you’re too tired, burned out, depressed. Sometimes you do want to do it. You want to put the work and make something great, but the inspiration is just not there. I’ve been there. Even when we try to get inspired, it doesn’t always work.

Creative and independent work can be tough in that sense. If you’re part of a team and have someone to tell you what to do… well, you do it. If your boss needs that report for Monday first thing in the morning, you find yourself the time and space to complete that task. But when it’s up to you, somehow time management can be a struggle. Not only that, but also getting a hold of what exactly you should do seems daunting. Just Ask George R.R. Martin (Yes, we’re still waiting for the sixth A Song of Ice and Fire book).

There are a few things I do in order to get me through those days and still have some work done —and this isn’t by any means THE only way or the certified way. First things first: you have to understand that not every day will be perfect for writing, for a breakthrough in your startup, or for a deal to close. Some days just sort of happen and are like… a measurement of time? And that’s ok.

That being said, you have to try to put some work everyday and not hide under the ‘not the right day’ excuse. First, because you still have to flex those muscles. If you write and are not in the mood to make some progress on your ambitious novel, you should still write something else to keep those skills from getting rusty. If you are building a new app and are stuck at one point in your development, put some work in something less exciting but still important. Maybe you can get your finances organized, or have a talk with some designers. This might free your mind from the frustration and even give you a new breath of fresh air to keep going.

So yeah, try to keep up with a routine.

Maybe, also, go back. Try to freshen up some skills. You play piano and cannot write anything decent today? Run a few scales. When was the last time you played a circle of fifths? Maybe check on some chords you haven’t in a while. You are not sure of what you want from your website at this point? Check again some of the courses in which you learned No-Code (obviously you made your website using No-Code tools, and obviously you learned via HelloGuru). Memory works in a weird way and refreshing old knowledge might trigger something creative. If not, well, now you remember THAT shortcut that was driving you insane.

Keeping skills fresh not only makes for an efficient and technically proficient writer, player, builder or whatever, but also it can help your stuff go further and be better. Maybe what your piano piece needed for that specific part was an intricate and very fast run that you didn’t know you could do. Going through theory and exercises will make you realize there’s stuff out there that you didn’t know before and insert it in your project thanks to your newly developed skill.

And maybe you’ll do everything I wrote above, and still won’t get an ‘aha’ moment. Because that’s how creative and independent work behaves sometimes. The important part is to keep going. Some days will go by doing repetitive and mechanical chores, and some days will be breakthroughs. Honestly, more days will be of the first kind, but that’s fine, because breakthroughs make up for all the rest, but for them to happen you probably need to put the work in those other hundred days of normal, not very inspired work.

And it’s fine. Embrace it.