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Creativity on Demand

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If you work or study in a creative industry, you’ll understand the pressures of being creative on demand. In fact, even fellow bloggers will understand the pressure to continually churn out content. It seems like an oxymoron, right? The closer the deadline gets, the greater the pressure gets, and then the rarer inspiration gets.

The solution to this varies from person to person – one of the best and worst things about creativity is how it manifests differently in everyone. However, there are some hurdles that most people can probably relate to, and hopefully some largely effective solutions.

For me, one of the biggest obstacles was the concept of originality. I didn’t want to write anything that wasn’t entirely original as it felt like a waste of time. This, of course, is incredibly flawed – chances are, nothing you can write will ever be entirely original. Once I understood that, it was a lot easier to just write whatever I wanted. So long as you’re not straight up plagiarising, you’ll probably be ok – look at the success of fan fiction; sometimes familiarity is exactly the foundation that it takes to get people’s attention. It’s very context based, but even clichés can be interesting if written well.

Some people swear by a writing routine, whereas others can get nothing done if they’re in the wrong mood. I fall into the second category, and tend to balance this with setting myself deadlines well before the deadline; if I’ve not sat down and written anything by x time, I’ll just make myself do it. Often, the act of finding the time removes enough barriers that I can at least get something down. I mentioned the app Forest in my Educational Apps post, and it’s super helpful for staying focused when you have a deadline. In fact, I’m using it right now to keep me focused on this post.

Another bonus of having preemptive deadlines is that – for me at least – they come with a lot less stress. In theory, you don’t have to do it by your own deadline. In theory, if inspiration doesn’t strike before then, you don’t have to, making it a much more relaxed experience. With university work, this comes with the added reward of being able to watch everyone else more lose sleep and sanity the closer it gets to the deadline, all while being able to smile and brag that you did it three weeks ago. Not sound like a terrible human, but there is no greater reward than the combination of hatred and admiration that people respond with.

My biggest advice would be to write down every single idea you get. Just in case. Even if you don’t think it will ever come to anything, you may need that inspiration when the clock is ticking. Some people use notebooks or sticky notes. I use a chaotic combination of Google Keep and various documents, with random lines and concepts scattered all over the place. Messy? Yes. Ineffective? … Sometimes. But for the most part, enough to save me when I’m really stuck.

If all else fails, there are numerous prompts available on Pinterest, Tumblr and other social media. Or, if you prefer offline options, Kit bought me 642 Tiny Things to Write About, one of many prompt books out there. I also own a set of storytelling dice that I bought from Flying Tiger. Not to mention that the news is one heck of a messy prompt in these wild times. Anything can be a prompt if it gets your brain going – I recently used Cards Against Humanity as assignment prompts with a friend. Whatever works.

When the thing that you do out of passion turns into the most important thing that you’re required to do, it can take the fun out of it somewhat. I’ve struggled to write things for fun when I now associate writing so strongly with deadlines. But every now and then, it’s good just to sit down and be creative for fun. Sure, it may not pay the rent, contribute to a degree or gain you followers, but remembering why you started doing the thing can make it so much easier.

I hope that some of the above was helpful. If you’re stuck on anything at the moment, know that you’re not alone and that meeting creative deadlines is hard. Good luck!


As usual, none of the brands mentioned above endorsed this in any way. We’re not cool enough for sponsorship.

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