Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

How to Get Those Creative Juices Flowing

From Jeff: This is a guest post by Jim Woods. Jim is a writer, dreamer, and coach who lives in Nashville, TN. You can connect with him at his blog or on Twitter (@unknownjim).

Let’s get something straight: You are creative. You’ve completed term papers, finished science fair projects, and participated in school plays. Maybe even written a poem or two for that someone special.

The creativity is there, somewhere — so how do you get it to come out?

Flowing Water Photo

Photo credit: Luke Addison (Creative Commons)

A formula of sorts

Here’s how this works:

Information + Inspiration = Creation

Without information, it’s hard to create. You need some “stuff” to start with:

  • If you’re a writer, you need a topic.
  • If a musician, you need a key.
  • If a painter, a canvas.

You get the idea. But it doesn’t stop there. Without inspiration, your work will fail to be creative and you’ll end up regurgitating the same content over and over again.

You are capable of creative, innovative work the world has yet to see. It may take time and effort to get to a point where it flows, but it’s in there.

Although you’ve heard all kinds of steps and solutions about working through creative blocks, I’m going to tell you the truth: This is about choices. Plain and simple. And here are several important ones you should make to get the creativity flowing:

Do your homework

Homework is practice. It’s not glamorous, and it’s rarely fun. Homework is digging ditches with your bare hands; it’s playing that same stupid scale on the piano — over and over. This takes intentionality. It means less time on the couch and more reps.

Don’t kid yourself — this is going to be painful. Pain is inevitable; it’s part of the process. Embrace it for the gift that it offers, because the struggle is what makes it worth it.

Practice usually takes longer than we’d like, but never longer that we need. The consolation is that if you chase your passion, the work may be tolerable, even enjoyable, at times. But it will still be work.

Expect resistance

Roadblocks, irritation, and failure are all realities you face. Expect them and push through, anyway.

There will always be resistance, always another challenge to overcome. If you fall, get back up. Pity parties have no place in this work. What you need to do is keep moving.

Stubbornness is now your greatest ally; use it to persevere. Embrace these difficulties; they’re a sure sign you’re on the right path.

Read… a lot

You need to read a ton. Seriously. Watch fewer movies, spend less time on Facebook, and quit needlessly checking Twitter.

Use your library card for the gift that it is. Swap books with friends, read a few blogs (but not just blogs), and open the newspaper once in awhile.

Continuously fill your mind with compelling content and inspiring stories; these will fuel your process.

Read widely. Don’t be too quick to dismiss a book or magazine as irrelevant; if a subject doesn’t resonate immediately, give it time. You never know where inspiration may be lurking.

Learn from others

You are not in this alone. So stop acting like it.

Join a community group or create one yourself. These can provide great accountability and encouragement. Moreover, they’re a great way to get feedback on your work and grow in your craft.

Another way to learn is to meet potential mentors and coaches in person. Ask them out to lunch or coffee — and pay the bill. Be intentional: show up on time, ask questions, and pay attention.

These conversations will provide the insight you need to take the next step in your journey.

Keep creating

Write until you can’t write anymore. Paint until your arm hurts. Sing until your voice goes hoarse.

Now is the time to go for broke. Don’t fall for the myth of perfectionism; start moving and see happens. Do not give into your fears of failure or make excuses for why you haven’t shown up.

Just begin — and keep going until you get good.

Get ready for the overflow

Always be alert and ready for inspiration to come. You never know when it may strike.

Have a notebook or voice recorder handy at all times. Why? Because inspiration will come at the most random times. And when it does, the overflow will come.

The overflow is when the boring, tedious work you’ve been plowing through suddenly comes together to create something beautiful. It’s when your work begins to feel effortless.

Your inspiration may lead you to make something very different from what you first envisioned, and that’s okay. The point is when it really starts to flow, it should stop feeling like work.

A final word

The creative process is not easy; it takes time, energy, and effort. But nothing worth doing is ever easy, is it? That’s what makes it wonderful.

It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.
—Jimmy Dugan, A League of Their Own 

Your work will be hard, but it will also be great. Stick with it and enjoy the challenge the journey provides — it’s part of the reward.

How do you get your creative juices flowing? Share in the comments.

*Photo credit: Luke Addison (Creative Commons)

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • http://www.eileenknowles.com Eileen

    Great to see you here, Jim.  JustFYI, the link that sends me  here from your blog wasn’t working this morning.  But, I knew how to get over here all by myself! :)  

    Your post compliments a verse in scripture that caught my eye this morning “Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights.” Proverbs 18:15 MSGI didn’t used to think I was creative, I used to think it was limited to painters and people who could draw.  I draw stick figures, and even they stink!  But when I started writing again my definition of creative began to expand.  Good thoughts today, Jim

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Thanks Eileen! I fixed the link ;) I believed the same myth for a while Eileen, that I was not creative. So my creativity was “unknown” to me. Well that and I was 100% unknown at the time because I wasn’t blogging or writing anything. Unknown Jim just seemed to cover the bases. Love that verse. Thanks for sharing it!! 

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    The more I write, the more ideas get. After writing 425 blog posts over the past year or so, and a couple hundred others on other blogs, I almost can’t keep up with ideas.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      That is awesome Larry. 425 blog posts in one year. How inspiring! Thanks for sharing!! 

  • Linda Cosgriff

    My blog was stale.  I took a week off and did some living.  I had a load of material when I got back to it.

    It’s the same with poetry: if nothing is happening, I don’t worry; I do something else.  I’ve had some of my best poems appear while I’m ironing.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Love that Linda! I sometimes have good ideas when I’m getting ready for work or doing the dishes. I think you are right on the money to just live life and let that influence your art. When you do it the other way around, it often seems to get stale quick doesn’t it! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathryne.leach Kate Leach

    When I see something that makes a great photo, I shoot it and then use it as a blog theme. My original photo’s inspire a theme I write about, which is devotional in nature. Check out some at http://www.kathryneann.com

    • Tracy Pratt

      I’m going to check out your blog. Creation is such a big part of my inspiration. Just yesterday I caught behind the camera some moments in the garden I would not have seen. It’s a form of listening to God – observing His artistry – His illustrations.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      That is fantastic Kate! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I bet you are seeing first hand that a picture can be worth an infinite number of words. Thanks for sharing! 

  • stephanie

    By reading posts like this, so thanks. I write poetry for children so I read, read read and watch my sister´s kids play – each day I gain confidence. 

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      That is awesome! So glad to help!!! Watching kids is a FANTASTIC way to keep the creativity flowing. They are so full of joy! Thanks so much for sharing Stephanie! 

  • Sophie Novak

    Great thoughts Jim! We are indeed all creative. The difference between some and other are the work they actually put in, the willingness, the stubbornness to go ahead.  

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Thanks so much Sophie! I think being stubborn can obviously be a very, very good thing. Especially when you combine it with passion and joy! 

  • Claire Handscombe

    Watching intelligent TV can raise my heartbeat and get my juices flowing. I noticed it first with the West Wing – nothing like it for that kind of thing! – but it’s started to happen with The Good Wife too.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Absolutely- I find it amazing what can inspire. I recently started watching X Files again and it has lead me to want to write more fiction. I love how you called it “intelligent” TV.  Some TV can definitely make you think and actually help your work. Jerry Springer, not so much.

  • http://twitter.com/spencer_anna Anna Spencer

    I write at least ten minutes a day, run or bike, do centering prayer, read, and most recently I have added the crossword to my creative routine.  All of these activities have helped me become a better writer, teacher, and thinker.  They reach expand my thought process and that’s what makes them valuable. 

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Ooooh I like that idea of doing crosswords as well. That also makes you a killer Scrabble player right? (I think I am possibly the world’s worst Scrabble player :) haha) 

      I’m glad you have found the amazing value in a routine Anna. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • http://sarahelisabethwrites.com/ Sarah Elisabeth

    I love this saying and try to live by it: “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9 am every morning.” – Peter DeVries

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      That is awesome Sarah. So true! If you just write when you feel like it, I think then writing is a hobby. A professional clocks in everyday no matter what. Thanks for sharing! 

      • http://sarahelisabethwrites.com/ Sarah Elisabeth

        You’re welcome, Jim, thanks for the great “inspiration” in your article :-)

  • Tracy Pratt

    I get my creative juices going by selectively subscribing to blogs that keep me moving forward.  I so appreciate Jeff inviting you, Jim to be a guest today. It’s a good cup of encouragement along with morning coffee!! 

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Fantastic! Caffeine and encouragement go together in my opinion. Especially when I get wired from too much caffiene :) haha. If you ever need some encouragement, I’m always glad to help (as is Jeff). I don’t think there is a thing as TOO much encouragement. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Totally my pleasure. Loved the perspective Jim brought to this topic today. Thanks for reading, Tracy.

  • http://www.abidingingrace.com/ A. Gonzales

    Thanks! This is the confirmation I needed.  I’ve been going through another stubborn case of writers block and I told myself just yesterday that I needed some inspiration to be creative.  I needed to stop and take in my surroundings and then read something!  I am so busy that most days I just go, go, go until I pass out.  This has been stifling my creative juices but now I know what I need to do! 

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Go, go, go will (eventually) lead to burn out.  Resting is always very, very important. So glad you know what to do now.  Thanks for sharing. This inspires many others I’m sure! 

  • http://rebootingworship.com/ Jamie Kocur

    I have to balance hard work and some time off. I know I need to put the time in (which can be a real struggle for me… after a long day at work it’s hard to convince myself to do more work), but at the same time I need some down time or my brain simply will not be creative.

    One thing I’ve found is that doing something else creative helps me to get my creative juices flowing. If I’m writing and coming up empty, I’ll color, or take a walk with my camera, or make a collage. Doing something totally separate from the task at hand that is still creative helps to get out of the rut. 

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Jamie, that balance between hard work and time off is really rough. I’d say the key is to set weekly TANGIBLE goals, otherwise it is really easy to burn yourself out over time. I LOVE the idea of just taking a camera with you for inspiration when doing something new.  

      But remember the HARD WORK has to happen before you can create something awesome. There are no easy ways out, just lots of distractions unless you are really careful.  For example, it’s a whole lot easier to write a blog post about a picture than to write an ebook. If you aren’t careful, the ebook will just keep getting pushed back further and further down your to do list. 

      • http://rebootingworship.com/ Jamie Kocur

        Yup… I’m so bad about procrastinating and not getting to the thing that I really need to get to. Thanks for another kick in the pants. :)

  • http://twitter.com/MLSchwienD Michele Schwien

    Hi Jim,
    Inevitably I recognize my inspiration when something wakes me up in the middle of the night. I’ve learned I might as well get out of bed right then and there and type it out because there is no hope of sleep until I do.      

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Michele, I know the feeling! You have to get it out too or you might forget it. This is why I put a notebook and pen on the night stand :) 

  • http://jonfulk.com/ Jon Fulk

    I like these tips! My problem is that I often get stuck at the first step of having a topic or idea. Sometimes I think that means I’m not creative, but I know that’s a lie. I just have too many interests and have a hard time focusing on just one at a time. Any thoughts on how to combat this? I’m definitely going to up my reading time and I might try to find or start a writer’s group. Great post!

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Pick one idea. (The others will still be there waiting later.) Just one and roll with it and work on that ONE idea. Hustle. When you think you are done with it, go a little further.  I’d do it for a week and see what you have at the end of a week. 
      I’ve been there Jon and it’s ROUGH! Shoot me an email if you need some encouragement (and you probably do if you are like me).  I’d be glad to help! jim@unknownjim.com

  • http://twitter.com/uktrue Richard Huckle

    ‘they lose sight of the
    paramount truth that the mind thinks with ideas,
    not with information’
    Roszak, Theodore. The Cult of Information:
    The Folklore of Computers and the True Art of Thinking.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      I like that Richard. It explains how it’s so easy to get “information overload” when we aren’t processing things clearly. 

  • http://twitter.com/lornafaith Lorna Faith

    I have started using the notebook idea or often “sticky notes”…and just write down creative thoughts whenever they come. It really helps…because then I don’t forget them later:)  These past few months I’ve been gradually getting to writing 1000 words/day…so the output is better than it has been, but sometimes I get stuck. Walking helps get the creative juices flowing again, so I can come back and practice! I like that quote “the hard…it’s what makes it great.”   Great Post!

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Thanks Lorna! How do you keep the “sticky notes” organized? 1000 words a day is an AWESOME GOAL!

       I think those tangible goals really, really help.  Even if  you wrote just 200 words a day, over time, that’s 1400 words a week and 5600 words a month! 

  • http://www.jonstallings.com Jon Stallings

    As a bi-vocational Pastor I am always busy, so I have
    learned to look for inspiration everywhere, and capture it immediately.  I
    use Evernote on both my personal and work computers. And I have two notebooks
    set up, one for “Blog Starters” and one for “Sermon Starters.”
    Any time I come across something I think would be a great blog/sermon
    title/idea it goes in the appropriate Evernote notebook.  When I have time
    to write, (I have a daily goal of 300 words) I pick a starter idea and run with
    it.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Love it Jon. I find that those apps like Evernote can be amazing if you stick with it. Taking off where you have a “starter idea” also means your subconscious was working on it (at some level) so you are actually further along than you think you are. Fantastic tip! Thanks for sharing! 

  • http://inhisloveministries.blogspot.com/ Pilar Arsenec

    Jim, you totally rocked this… seriously man, this is good stuff.  I love it!!

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Thanks so much Pilar. You are ROCKING it too. You are easily one of the most encouraging voices on the internet. I hope to be encouraging like you are! 

      • http://inhisloveministries.blogspot.com/ Pilar Arsenec

        Awwww thanks Jim, that is very kind of you to say. :)

  • Julie R. Neidlinger

    I get most of my ideas while I’m exercising/walking, in the shower, or driving. It seems ideas seem to know when I’ll be least likely able to grab a pencil and write or sketch them down, so I’ve had to learn to find ways to note these ideas…recording app on my phone, send an email to myself on my phone, mnemonic devices to keep them in recall when I get to where I can write them down, and so forth. 

    So I guess in this sense, creativity seems to strike when I least expect it, i.e. when I’m not trying to be creative. The ideas, anyway. Now, the work to carry them through…that is purposeful and is exactly that: time to work.

    I never have a shortage of ideas as long as I’ve kept the hopper full with things described above (reading, excellent films, talking to people, reading, etc.). It’s just my ideas don’t come about until I’ve sort of derailed the train and stopped staring at “get idea here”. Exercise — walking in particular — is a great time for ideas.

    – Julie

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Julie this is awesome. You are seriously ROCKING it. It’s good to know I’m not the only one recording myself talking in the car to not forget an idea :) haha. 

      A friend has told me he often gives  speeches in the car and actually made a steering wheel cry :)

  • http://colebradburn.com/ Cole Bradburn

    Well done Jim!  I like the inspiration/encouragement in the post coupled with some practical advice.  

    I’ve been budgeting my buying of books, but completely neglected my library card.  I used to be in love with the library, and for some reason haven’t really used it in a few years.  I also love what you’ve been saying the last week about being intentional meeting people/mentors for coffee.  I have found that real-life stories – the ones people don’t tell unless you are one on one with them asking deeper questions – are so moving.  

    You’ve been everywhere lately, keep it up Jim!

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Thanks Cole. You’ve only been busy being a great dad and that’s whats REALLY important. Check and see if your library does e-books (even for Kindle).  They do here in Nashville and it’s fantastic. It’s audiobooks and ebooks.  

      Meeting up with others and talking with them over coffee is SO important. It’s amazing how much you can learn when talking with someone else! 

  • http://aglowingember.blogspot.ca/ Carolynn Anctil

    This post comes at the perfect time and is helping me to persevere.  Serendipity.  I keep running into roadblocks and it’s extremely frustrating not to stay in the stall.  I keep battering away at it, hoping to find a way over or under them.   My favourite mantra: “Keep your eyes on the prize.”   

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Carolynn, so glad this comes at the perfect time! I know the feelings you are facing all too well! If I can help encourage you, please feel free to email me.  jim@unknownjim.com

  • tammyhelfrich

    Great post, Jim. I keep a notebook with me and tend to write more in shorter time frames when something sparks my interest. I also use it to put notes or creative ideas that come to mind. Thanks for the great reminders.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Thanks Tammy. I love what you are doing and the encouragement you give to others. 

  • http://www.dougsmithlive.com/ Doug Smith

    Jeff! Quick question – on WordPress, how do you make the boxes you use to introduce your guest-bloggers? Is that a plug-in? 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Doug, it’s something that’s native to my theme (http://goinswriter.com/theme) but really easy to add to your style sheet editor in WordPress. It’s essentially a custom div. If you use Genesis (which I do), you can create a bunch of different colored boxes (see this post: http://www.briangardner.com/genesis-content-boxes/). I started using the yellow one for callouts and calls to action. Pretty cool.

      • http://www.dougsmithlive.com/ Doug Smith

         Thanks. The link to BrainGardner.com did not work. I currently use StandardTheme.

  • http://twitter.com/Prathiiiii Prathipa

    Awesome jim!!!Loved it!! I needed it like a tonic today!!! I m very happy to your fan!!!Worthy worthy article!!! Thanks jeff and jim..both wonderful writers of the century!! :)

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      So glad it helped Prathipa!! Thank you soooooo much for your extremely kind words!! I really appreciate it. We are in this creative journey together; helping each other. Thank you for your support!  

  • Lisa R

    I love this post, Jim, and you said the same thing my writing instructor says. I’m going to set up my idea folder as soon as I’m done posting this comment. I also agree completely about the reading and using the library card. I actually have that written in my schedule each day–time for reading and time for writing. When I attended a local festival back in May, I met several writers and editors and gleaned so many useful tips–one of which was to let yourself experience things that you haven’t experienced before and then the writing ideas would come. Since then, I have taken that to heart and have read many books and have seen movies that I would not usually see. Thanks for the encourgement!

    http://writewhatyouknowdotorg.wordpress.com/

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      I really dig that idea Lisa. Scheduling a SPECIFIC time for writing. That is fantastic advice!! Then you just simply follow what your schedule says. 

  • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

    I always get mocked because I go nowhere without my Nalgene and my Writer’s Notebook. You just never know when you’re going to be struck with something worth writing down! (or even not worth writing down that gets jotted down just in case).

    Katie

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Good call Katie. Gotta have something to capture ideas. Otherwise, they could disappear for a while. I do think the REALLY good ones tend to pop up again, but who knows when they will.

  • http://JaredLatigo.com/ Jared Latigo

    My favorite part was about reading a lot! I just wrote a whole section on that in my eBook on my site.  Great minds…  :D

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      That’s awesome Jared! I need to check that out.  Thanks for sharing!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1432360964 Lynette Sharp

    Thank you for a great article. I find creative ideas come when I pay attention to my surrounding and take time to let my mind wander. I read a ton, I am at my library about once a week. I also make time to meet with a writer friend once a month; we talk about our ideas and our journey. I seek out other writers, such as yourself, who are giving it their all – that is a huge inspiration to me.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Thanks so much Lynette. It sounds like you are doing some AWESOME THINGS.  Great job! Keep it up!! 

  • Lori Lipsky

    Marvelous post. Loved it. Thank you for the encouragement. I find the most difficult part for me is the starting idea. I’ve learned the hard way to always have paper and pen handy if there’s not a computer nearby. Otherwise I think I’ll remember, but I don’t. 

    My best ideas come when reading good prose, walking through art museums, gazing out the window, sitting in a quiet place…I’m always on the hunt for a good idea. The rest is just writing and editing and editing and editing.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Thanks so much Lori! I really appreciate it. Well said with the ”
      writing and editing and editing and editing.” That is so true!!!!! 

  • http://www.joeyo.org Joey O’Connor

    This was a great post and I have to agree, reading is essential to getting the creative juices flowing for a number of reasons: 1) Reading great writers inspires me to become a better writer. 2) Reading engages my mind, spurring on new ideas versus just passively watching soul-sucking television. 3) Reading enlarges my world and challenges me to ask God, “How can I bring great passion, focus and commitment to this creative life you’ve called me to?”

    Thanks Jim for the simple, yet elegant reminders we all need to hear.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      You bet Joey. Thank you so much for the kind comment! I think it’s amazing to think that some writers think you don’t need to read. I couldn’t disagree more.  It’s like a speaker saying you don’t need to know the language! Thanks again for the comment! 

  • http://FreddieTeague.com/ Freddie Teague

    This is a fantastic post, Jim!

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Thanks Freddie. I appreciate it very much. 

  • http://www.timandolive.com/ Tim Chan

    I agree that inspiration can come at any point. What practical suggestions do you have when you are inspired but do not have time to write (or create)? For me, sometimes I get inspired and I’m driving or about to start a meeting or about to go to bed. 

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Great question Tim! I’d say the key is to capture it as quickly as possible and in the most organized way possible. That could mean using a post-it note or using the voice recorder app on your ipod (in it’s temporary phase). I will sometimes just think out loud while driving in the car to get my thoughts down. 

      If you KNOW you have an idea, then get it down as quickly as possible and then file it in a way that makes sense to you.  

      Remember your ideas file MUST be organized, whether it be a virtual or a physical folder. 

      It is really easy to focus on the tools versus the work.  Before you know it the ideas file can stop you from executing. Don’t let that happen! Hope this helps! 

      • http://www.timandolive.com/ Tim Chan

        That’s good advice.

        Do you ever get inspired, write down the idea (or record it), and then come back to it and wonder why you were inspired in the first place? That happens to me sometimes – it makes me wonder if my inspiration is part delusion, haha.

  • Wynnegraceappears

    This post grabs my head and my heart. Feeling a tremendous amount of actionable inspiration to go forth and write. You have the gift of encouragement. Thank you for extending these words so clear and plain spoken. I am always encouraged by Jeff. Grateful that you were here today with your wisdom.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Thanks! I really appreciate it. Go get ‘em!!! And please don’t forget to share what you’ve created.  I would LOVE to see what you create.  Feel free to email me or send me a shout out on Twitter. 

      • Wynnegraceappears

        Thanks. You got it. Again thanks for framing your encouragement in such a way as this….grabbed hold with longing for my pen and paper.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Wynne! Glad you’re a part of the community here.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    There’s a few ways to get my creative juices flowing… 

    Some you mentioned: Reading books, blogs, etc. Yet I also find I’m able to get them flowing by watching an inspiring movie, going for a run, and playing. Something about these activities sparks the creativity in me.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      That is awesome Joe. There are SO MANY great aspects to exercise it is mind-boggling. When you set a side some alone time to think and reflect, then put in the work, great things  happen.

  • http://bobholmes.blogspot.com/ Bob Holmes

    Thanks Jim!

    I can tell you’re a good coach. I especially love you illustration:  Information + Inspiration = Creation.

    Being in a creative state really is a state of mind or being. For me, when I’m most creative, my brain is cycling in Gamma.  This doesn’t matter, but since you’re a coach, I thought this might be helpful in seeing another part of the creative process.

    I love you example of the overflow.

    Awesome post!

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Thanks so much Bob. I really appreciate it. The more I get involved in the creative process, the more I realize how much that equation of  “Information+ Inspiration = Creation” is true.  It is really exciting helping others create! 

  • http://donabumgarner.typepad.com/ Doña Bumgarner

    Great post!  I find it so helpful to have a habit of showing up (at the page, the easel, the studio…) and doing the work even when I’m not inspired.  Sometimes inspiration strikes in the middle unexpectedly, but even if it doesn’t I have the time and space carved out in my schedule to accommodate it when it does arrive.  I also sometimes need to stir the pot a bit after reading and learning before the overflow occurs.  Take a hot shower, clean the kitchen, work in the garden, go for a walk!  Let that stuff stew for a bit in my subconscious.

    Thanks for suggesting the library!  It is one of my favorite resources for both print and e-books and helps keep my budget in check in spite of my complete and utter book addiction.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      So glad you enjoyed the post! I am a big fan of the library.  Like you, I love the print and ebooks as well. I also listen to audio books via the library and love  podcasts. No matter what you are doing you can learn!! It’s fantastic! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.platania.5 Michael Platania

    Nature is one of the ways I get my creativity.  Walking in the woods, sitting at the beach, watching birds fly overhead – especially when I have my camera with me.  I love to take pictures – not so much for the picture taking process, but for they joy it gives me later when I am looking at them on my computer, reliving the moment. 

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      That’s a great idea Michael. The photos provide you both the inspiration and the outdoors give you the information for your process of creation.  I love it! Thanks so much for sharing that Michael. I’d love to see some of your work. Can you email me or tweet at me sometime? Thanks! 

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    Reading is powerful.  It’s amazing how something can keep working through your mind and empower you days, weeks, and months down the line.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Totally agree. I am personally in a season of trying to read more classics.

      • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

        Right on! Jeff, you and Joe Bunting got me turned on to Hemingway and now I can’t put his works down.

  • http://randomlychad.com Chad Jones

    I love reading! It inspires me. So do: sunsets, sitting outside, and time alone. After working, and writing, all week I like to let my mind lie fallow on the weekends to get those juices flowing again.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      I love it Chad. It’s amazing how much just being alone can recharge the batteries isn’t it?! What do you do if you don’t get to spend anytime alone Chad? Any tips there? Thanks! 

      • http://randomlychad.com Chad Jones

        Jim, I make it happen–whether during the workday, or later after everyone’s asleep.

        • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

          Chad, that is the best response ever. Love that! Thanks so much for sharing. That is inspiring! 

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    Great post buddy, very inspiring stuff! I think you hit on some key points: keep writing and read. Brendon Burchard said “An expert is always a student first”

    You can’t “arrive” and sit on hands, you have to keep working at your craft. If you’re stuck (writers block) just keep writing, even if it’s about non related stuff.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Always hustling, always grinding, always taking information+inspiration leading to creation. It’s not remotely easy is it?! But I must say there is NOTHING more fulfilling. 

  • http://learnasyouwrite.com/ Shaquanda Dalton

    That was a great post. Read it so fast.

    I guess what gets my creative juices flowing is looking back at past creation. When I look back on something I think is great and creative it gets me thinking of more creative ideas that I can branch off of.

    Thanks for the post, Jeff.

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Glad you enjoyed it! That’s really interesting that past creation keeps you moving forward. Thanks for the kind words!!

  • http://www.turndogmillionaire.com/ Turndog Millionaire

    Thanks for the thoughts, Jim

    we have to keep chipping away and doing the hard work. If we do this the good times will come. We’ll also be rewarded with a few moments of creative genius :)

    Those moments are always great. That moment of ‘aha’

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      You bet Matthew. Keep cranking away and good things will happen eventually. That is a great approach!! 

      • http://www.turndogmillionaire.com/ Turndog Millionaire

        That’s the plan :)

  • Katina Vaselopulos

    Great Post, Jim!
    Absolutely right about always carrying pen and paper…one of those pans that slide easily on the page. You never know when the ispiration comes. For me it comes early around the dawn, when my spirit has just returned from its nucturnal journey, when my brain is not wake yet…then, words just flow onto the page as if someone is dicating them ….in a remote beach around 3 oclock in the afternoon, when everyone sleeps exept me. …in church…in my garden… my veranda in Greece. As for reading, right on the mark!!!
    Thanks for validating what I knew inside!

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Thanks so much Katina! I really appreciate it. Hope you continue to embrace your creativity for the gift that it is and you are able to share it with others. 

      • Katina Vaselopulos

        I apologize for the spelling mistakes! I need to get accustomed to my new eye glasses. Right now its difficult to clearly view the screen.
        Jim, thank you also for replying to my comment!

  • Bubble Heart

    How do you get your creative juices flowing? Reading posts like this one, and reading what I like, in general, browsing the internet to get some ideas and inspiration, having an uncluttered space and so much light to work in & trusting in my own ideas. I wrote a post about that five month ago :) http://cutefairydreams.blogspot.mx/2012/02/how-to-be-creative.html

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      So glad I can help then! I find reading posts helps me quite a bit too. I’ll check out your post. Thanks!! 

  • http://twitter.com/Church_Johnson Church

    Great Advice Jeff

  • Marvin P. Ferguson

    I can identify with everything you mentioned. Why? Because I am a writer who has written three books, published two of them, and am working on my forth. Great comments to think about.

  • http://www.roastedkeyboard.com/ Roasted Keyboard

    Can this post BE any more amazing? :P 

  • Amy Mable

    Mornings are my best time.  My mind hasn’t been polluted with the noise of “others”.  So, I take my coffee outside and sit in the woods with a notepad and pen.  Each day I write down what I want to write about, where I see a need to go, and anything that pertains to this creative side of me.  I don’t answer the phone until at least noon.  The most productive parts of my morning are this quiet time outside, Bible study (keeping that same notepad handy because my writing is a way to worship God), reading nonfiction books and making MORE notes.

  • http://www.wwjw.com/ Best Shopping Directory

    ‘they lose sight of the
    paramount truth that the mind thinks with ideas,
    not with information’
    Roszak, Theodore. The Cult of Information:
    The Folklore of Computers and the True Art of Thinking.