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Creative Output Requires Creative Input!

Frustrated with her productivity and creative output, a client of mine once asked “Am I doomed to only be creative when I’m inspired?” To which I asked her, “just how much uninspired art do you want to be making?”

I’ve noticed many artists and creatives (myself included at times) prioritize focusing on creative output over creative input. Our tendency is to assume that better time management or self-discipline will result in more or better productivity. We expect to produce, even when we are running low on inspiration. But to generate creative output, we need creative input, AKA inspiration.

Inspiration can come from the making itself. As creative professionals we have the ability to be inspired through the process of creation.We find inspiration through hands-on experimentation and doing. Generating inspiration in this way requires discipline and trust. The self-discipline to get to work even when we aren’t feeling inspired. And the trust that something good will come from putting in the work.

Sometimes inspiration comes to us unexpectedly. When we are not working, but doing something mundane or resting and doing nothing in particular. Our mind has the opportunity to wander and suddenly we have an “aha” moment and new inspiration comes seemingly out of nowhere. We don’t have control over when this form of inspiration will come to us. But we can invite it to happen by stepping away from our work physically or mentally for even a few minutes. Personally, I have learned the value of taking a 10 minute walk, doing a short yoga sequence or a brief physical task that needs doing around the house throughout my work-from-home day. It invites my brain to wander and helps boost my inspiration.

And sometimes our creativity needs to be fed more intentionally and specifically. Reading, walking, being in nature, getting out to see the work of other artists and creatives are common sources of inspiration for many of my clients. Collaborating on projects and engaging in conversations about art, ideas or conceptual approaches are also important sources of inspiration.

What activities help to feed your creativity?

Sometimes it can be a struggle to prioritize these inspiration feeding activities because we may see them as time away from making. But I offer that that’s a limiting perspective. My perspective is that feeding our inspiration and creativity is part of the process and is productive!

What’s your perspective?

How much attention do you pay to your creative input vs output?

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Richard Isaacs
Richard Isaacs
Jul 10, 2023

Love this post. It's a creative twist on the idiom: “garbage in-garage out.” If we’re creative in what we put into our minds, we encourage better creative output. When I run low on ideas, I find inspiration helping someone with a creative problem. Listening to someone describe their process always expands my creative tool kit.

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Thanks for sharing how you feed your inspiration Richard!

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