The Creative Muscle

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

In the sixteen years since I wrote my first story, I’ve published five books, thousands of blog posts, and written a billion or so words that I later deleted.

When I first got started, one of my biggest fears was that I’d run out of ideas. I was concerned that I would burn out, that there won’t be any stories or words left in me. This doomsday scenario would play in my brain, over and over again, and for this reason I became a hoarder of… ideas.

Over time I’ve learned a really important lesson about creativity, and the human brain.

Creativity is actually a muscle. The more you use it, the easier it gets — not the other way around.

It is far easier for me now to come up with ideas for blog posts, it takes less time to write the damn thing.

It is far more effortless for me now to wake up and write articles, there’s almost no need to talk myself into punching the damn keys.

The blank page of a document no longer scares me, and I now see that its emptiness is in fact the promise of an infinite number of things to write about.

When you think about it like this, you see creativity for what it is, a muscle that you have to work out consistently.

The more you create, the more you are able to create.

You begin to crave what you repeatedly do. You don’t just feel more comfortable, you start to feel uncomfortable without it.

Last week I spent three days not writing, and I couldn’t wait to get back to punching those keys. I can’t wait to wake up in the morning to start writing. It’s the main reason I write two blog posts before most other people wake up.

It Wasn’t Always Like This

In fact, even a few years ago, I’d struggle to produce content every day. I wasn’t as consistent as I should have been.

Laziness is just you waiting for inspiration and motivation.

The best way to become a prolific content creator is to realize that you don’t have to feel inspired or motivated to create.

Someone asked me the other day if it wouldn’t make more sense to not write when you don’t feel like it. She said that she knew she was going to create something that wasn’t of the quality she wanted it to be.

And I told her that was just her brain playing tricks on her. She didn’t feel like it, and thus the brain came up with a bunch of reasons why she shouldn’t do it, one of them being that she’d just be wasting her time.

Do you know why creative people find it hard to create? It’s because they don’t feel like exercising the creative muscle. That’s why being a creator is so difficult, it takes a lot of mental and emotional effort.

That’s what I told her to do. Write even though you don’t feel like it, because motivation is not the cause of action, but rather the other way around.

The more you act, the more motivated you feel.

The more you create, the more inspired you feel.

A body in motion tends to stay in motion. And you can guess what is the natural tendency of a body at rest.

The trick to being prolific as a creative is to never let your brain come up with excuses:

  1. That you will run out of ideas.
  2. That you won’t create great work because you don’t feel like it.
  3. That you don’t have enough time.

The way to avoid this from happening is to realize that the creative part of us like a muscle. We need to exercise it. If you don’t use it, you lose it. The more you use it, the stronger it gets.

Years ago, my worst fear was creative bankruptcy. I’d approach content creation the same way I was playing Monopoly.

Now, I think creativity requires that I consistently produce new work. It doesn’t matter what I write about, I just have to write.

After a couple million words, the creative side of my brain no longer approaches the act of creation as a sort of magic ritual. It’s just work, like any other work, it’s become a daily habit.

Your creative muscle only becomes stronger if you are actually being creative.

If you’re afraid that you’ll run out of ideas, realize that’s not going to happen. Quite the opposite.

When you get yourself used to writing on a daily basis, coming up with ideas becomes automatic. When you get yourself used to creating every day, it will become second nature.

You don’t need to hold back. You need to give it everything you’ve got right here and right now in order to grow your creative muscle.

2 thoughts on “The Creative Muscle

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