There are two ways you can view the creative process:
The first is to see it as an attempt to obtain something that you don’t yet possess. This is what I call creating from a state of lack. You lack something that’s important or interesting to you and the creative process is going to help you procure it.
The second way is to see it as a game in which you playfully express the ideas, interests, and impulses that can no longer be contained. This is what I call creating from a state of overflow. You have something alive inside of you and the creative process is going to help you bring it forth.
The first sense of creating is about getting something to come in.
The second sense of creating is about getting something to come out.
When people struggle with being creative, it’s usually because they see the creative process in the first sense. They want to achieve something, but they have no idea how to go out and make it happen.
When people are constantly creating new things and generating results, it’s usually because they see creativity in the second sense. These people don’t write, sing, and paint out of guilt. They create because they can’t contain themselves. They’re so filled up with a deep sense of conviction that their imagination demands to be put into action.
Ray Bradbury brilliantly describes this idea of creating from inner abundance:
“If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape.”
My business partner often advises people to “get sh*t done.” I agree, but I supplement his advice with “be full of sh*t.” Of course I don’t mean that literally. What I mean is that you can’t get something done unless you have something inside of you that compels you to let it out.
If you want to increase your creative output, stop looking for a technique that’s going to make you get off your butt and start feeding yourself things that truly fire you up. Creativity isn’t about having a way to get things done. It’s about having a why that makes it impossible to not jump on your feet in an enthusiastic rush to action.
When you truly fill your soul with stuff that’s invigorating, those ideas and influences will hijack your brain and compel you to work.