We tap into creativity as much as our discipline allows. For some, it is daily. For others, it is multiple times per day. Creativity isn’t a finite resource. It is infinite and all around us, waiting to be tapped into. It is our choice to tap into it. Most people dismiss this notion and themselves, stating, “I’m not creative. I can’t do that!” Thus, most of us take ourselves out of the game before even starting. Note that creative people don’t say the opposite, “I’m creative!” They just start creating and practicing. They’re not talking themselves out of the act. They’re acting now. They’re iterating now. They’re prototyping now. They’re seeing what works and what doesn’t now. They embrace the uncertainty of action and its eventual results and believe in the creative process. They know that some of the things they’re doing right now won’t work and they don’t care. Creative people know that they can eventually get to quality through quantity, through producing. Yes, this takes time, but not as much time as you think.
Many people think it takes 3 to 5 years to write a book. With focus and dedication, you can write a book in 6 months. Many people think it takes 3 to 6 months to create a product. You can create a product in one focused weekend and begin marketing it on Monday. Many people think it takes months to put together a webinar. You can create a good enough slide deck in a few days’ work and then start presenting your webinar immediately. Doesn’t take months at all. We often use lengthy timelines to procrastinate beginning. We think, “Man, I’d write that book but that’s a 3 to 5 year commitment.” Or, “Create a new product? That’ll take 6 months.” Is that true? We’re loathe to look for counterexamples to our statement. Creative works do not take as long as we think they do. They simply take focus and discipline in execution. Creative timelines are relatively short with focus and disciplined execution.
Peter Thiel has a wonderful challenge for people with 10 year goals: why can’t you do this in 6 months? What prevents you from doing this in 6 months? The notion of compressing 10 years’ worth of work into 6 months is audacious, and exactly the type of thinking that will get you on an accelerated path. It might even sound ludicrous — that’s OK. This challenge is designed to question your thinking. What would it take to get your 10 year goal done in 6 months? Again, we’re often great at extending our creative timelines for books, businesses, and other creative projects. What if we cut them down to a fraction of the time? What if you only had 2 hours a week to work on your project? What would you do? How would you spend your time and still feel like you’re making progress?
Where can you take your creativity into a new domain? We love to practice where we’re already strong. But what about where we’re not? Might we be good elsewhere? And if so, where would that be? What domain needs our expertise? Where else can we contribute? If you’re already strong in giving presentations, you’re already strong in giving webinars, perhaps even in going live on camera. One area of expertise transfers well to another domain. We are stronger in multiple domains than we give ourselves credit for.
We tend to stand in our own way of creating. It is a lack of self-belief that holds us back in seeing our visions manifest. This is sad. We’re better than that, and we actually are more creative than we give ourselves credit for. We just don’t realize that where we are specifically creative can be translated into other areas. It isn’t just one. For example, if you’re a good writer, you’re also very likely a good speaker. You could write a good talk and could also deliver a good talk with enough practice. But many writers would be loathe to go out and deliver a talk. They don’t believe in themselves enough or simply do not get near enough practice to believe in themselves. But they can do it. They possess the ability, the potential. Yet they stand in their own way of transferring this creativity from writing to speaking. Coaching is usually the best solution to this creative transfer. People just need to talk it through and have someone question their limiting beliefs vs. what we know to be true. The best way to get out of your own way is to talk it through with a coach or trusted advisor. Creative domain transfer happens all the time in this realm. Don’t think you’re creative in only one area.
The best solution to creative slumps? Regular practice. Just keep practicing your craft. Experiment. Try something new outside your regular domain of creativity but apply the skills and confidence of regular domain to the new one. See what happens. Try hard to not judge the outcome. This is a fun experiment if you believe it is. Mixing things up is also a great way to get out of a slump. Combine things. Connect things. Take in new things and multi sensory experiences. Try to have something blow your mind. here’s something that will blow your mind: create something outside of your domain. Look at it. And say to yourself, “Hey, this is pretty good. Not bad. I bet I can do even better.” You’ve just created something new without negative judgment. That’s a hard thing to do. Nothing beats practicing and execution. Nothing.
Disciplined, focused creativity. Disciplined focused creativity. Practicing and execution. Do the thing now. Take the action now. Be focused now. Create now. We do not have as much time as we think. So we have to get after it early and often. The hard part is getting out of own way. Making our difference and feeling it. We do not feel it as much as we should because we don’t give ourselves enough credit for it, even if we work hard at it. So, we quit or we stop the creative act because we feel that there isn’t enough in it for us. Unfortunately, we quit too soon, sometimes right before our breakthrough. If only we had continued through the rough patches to the brightness that exists on the other side. This takes sticktoitiveness and tenacity, the Never Quit mindset.
Some of us have trouble beginning. We’re waiting for permission or credentials or some day when the timing is right. When trying something new — a new business, a new book, being on video for the first time, a new creative project — the timing is never right. To put it another way, you have to make the time for the new endeavor. There’s no need to wait. No need to wait for permission. No need to wait for others’ approval. No need to wait for new tech. We have everything we need right now to get started. We can choose to show up, ready to create and serve.
Beginning can be intimidating. We’re afraid of looking bad in front of others. What will people think? The truth is most people won’t even notice. This is not a harsh criticism on your early work. It is simply truth in an age where people post 1 billion new things to the Internet each day. While there is a chance that you may encounter criticism, when creating so early, you’d be lucky to attract any attention at all. Building an audience is all about consistent content creation, adding value, and sharing over a long period of time. There still is no better time to get started than right now.
In getting out of your own way, remind yourself of your past successes. You’ve been successful before. While you may not have done this specific thing, you do have great experience in adjacent works. This can easily transfer to another domain as stated earlier. Your history of past successes should help build that confidence into the new domain.