Creating Consistency While Fostering Creative Flow

Written by Amber Swenor

September 24, 2019

Earlier in my career, I did things in a very consistent, structured manner, with my days packed full.

Over the last four years, as I’ve walked a path of transformation from pushing against the tide to tapping into my intuition, creativity, and working from flow, I’ve come to learn the importance of allowing creativity to flourish.

And the more I’ve learned to allow creative flow to happen, the more I felt in conflict with everything being consistently planned in my schedule. It was an internal struggle because we need consistency….

Consistency is a way to create order. 

However, creative flow is a way to create magic. And often, creative flow can’t be forced. The very essence of creating and being in flow is the opposite of creating order.

The problem with a creative flow approach is it can lead to going many directions, without focusing on any one effort. Conversely, the act of being rigid and structured can prevent a person from exploring their purpose and living a joyful existence.

I’ve experienced the deep aligned connection that can result from authentic writing. Writing and relating my experiences is my way to experience my own existence while relating to and offering guidance to others. For you, your connectedness may come in another form such as painting, photography, designing homes, writing music, helping people, taking care of animals, or styling people to look their best: there are many ways that one can connect with their creativity and feel rooted in purpose.

I noticed over the last few years that when I’ve taken hold of moments of clarity, inspiration, and energetic flow, the outcomes from those flow sessions have been the most impactful. It’s those times that I’ve written my most authentic and aligned content that people have responded to and shared how it helped them.

And that would not have been possible if I didn’t allow that moment of flow to come through.

Perhaps you’ve experienced this, a moment of great inspiration or clarity…. some people think of this as “receiving downloads.” You may experience it as a feeling or vision. For me, it shows up as moments of unfiltered energetic clarity that come out in words, but it’s not rooted in my head, rather, it feels like energy flowing through me, free of my own human judgment or perception, it’s simply clarity. Some people think of it as a message coming from “Source,” or they feel “God,” in their life. Some think of it simply as “feeling creative.” You may not have any word for it, and that’s ok. My interest here is not to suggest where the inspiration comes from but rather, to offer solutions for how to allow more of that, among what can sometimes feel like the chaotic world of a creative.

Connected writing is personally rewarding and allows me to be rooted in my purpose. So I came into this year with a desire to explore how to allow more of that in while maintaining my growing responsibilities with two expanding companies, a growing client list, and a band.

Knowing there is a need for consistency, while also knowing the magic is in creative flow, I set out to explore if there is a way to foster and nurture greater creativity and maintain a commitment to delivering creative work, consistently.

I wanted to find out: Could I create some level of consistency in my creative endeavors, without stifling creativity? 

I stepped into this experiment by committing to developing a weekly Personal Development email, Bite-Sized Transformation.

I committed to showing up consistently, in reader’s inboxes with a thoughtful, authentic message weekly, with strategies to help people make meaningful transformations in their lives. I knew creating engaging and purposeful content would require allowing for more creative flow. I could not block an hour each week to perform on command: Be inspirational, Be Wise, Be Funny! No, it doesn’t work like that.

What I learned is that it is possible. Even if it’s not perfect, you can make meaningful progress if you prioritize your commitment and learn how to engage flow.

Here are the top things I learned, and 4 steps you can engage to nurture greater creativity, consistently: 

Step 1:  Commit to both Creativity and Consistency at the same time

Many creatives lament that traditional constructs don’t work for them. The 9-5 job: kills my creativity. Social norms: suck the life from my vibes. Responsibility and bills: Doesn’t anyone value the arts anymore? 

Typically, consistency, rules, and schedules are kryptonite to a creative, however, if you are a creative who wishes to tap into creating more consistently, and perhaps to make a greater living from your creative endeavors, there is a necessary balance between consistency and flow, a yin and yang. Everything balances.

There was a time early in my business when I was rigidly committed to stacking my day full of meetings. This left me drained by the end of the day, and completely useless by the end of the week. I’d spend the entire weekend recovering, just to feel human again by Monday morning, with no space for creative thinking, or writing new songs with my band. I was stripped bare of what fed my soul. It was after doing that for a while that I decided there had to be a way to achieve both.

Step 1 that I learned in this journey: Commit to consistency while creating flow.

Step 2: Create space for your future Creativity

Once you’ve decided consistent creativity is important to commit to, you’ve got to schedule the time for it.

I looked at my calendar and started blocking time for creativity. Now, creativity on demand can be a really tricky thing and doesn’t work for a lot of people. And how creativity works for me, in reality, is that it strikes whenever it pleases. So, I sought to create more flexibility within my schedule, where things can be swapped around.

Here’s what I mean: if you look at my schedule, “flexibility” sounds like the biggest oxymoron, because by outward appearance there is no flexibility in my schedule  – it’s all scheduled up.

But here’s the thing, there are time blocks in the schedule to create space for FUTURE CREATIVITY.

In the past, when I’d leave open blocks in my calendar, I’d fill in last-minute requests for coffee, and lunches, or my team would think I was available for meetings. By filling every minute of my calendar with tasks and meetings, there was NO space left to allow creativity.

I realized if creativity and writing were important to me, I’d need to start reserving times on my calendar for it: creating future space. And to the part about how to schedule creativity time, without being forced to be creative on demand, here’s how that works for me:

I block time for creativity but I don’t force myself to only use that time, what I do is engage in the flow as much as possible when it shows up, and then whatever task was scheduled for that time, I move into the “creative time block.” This way, I’m still fulfilling my commitments consistently, while still allowing flow.

For example: If I wake up Tuesday morning with some awesome creativity flowing, but I have a client task scheduled for Tuesday morning, I move that client task into the other time block that I had blocked for CREATIVITY time and instead. I maximize that opportunity to tap into creative flow while it’s there.

Play around with what works for you… if your career doesn’t allow you to juggle tasks like that, try scheduling creative time after work or on weekends. The simple act of reserving space for creativity allows it to become possible!

Step 3: Engage your flow when it’s there

When creativity strikes, engage it! Now, there are times when I have a scheduled meeting that I can’t just shuffle to later in the week. What I do in those cases is make a voice memo or recording.

Many clients who are building brands with them as the thought leader and service providers tell me they struggle with writing. So I ask them questions about why they are passionate about what they do, their top advice for people, and so on. I sometimes type or write what they are saying and then read it back to them, and they are amazed at how great their ideas sound! This is a strategy that helps people who think they can’t write or never know what to say on social media to become more natural: simply, record yourself talking/voice-to-memo.

Even if you don’t have time to develop the full idea, get the initial thought out. Do whatever you need to do to remember the best parts of the idea:

  • voice memos
  • texts
  • write it on paper
  • take photos
  • audio recordings

Step 4: Create micro-goals along the way

In my experiment early on, I set micro-goals. My first important goal was to get the email done at some point within a week from the last email.

Early on, I missed a week. But then, I committed to at least getting the email out weekly.
Next goal: Send the emails between Tuesday-Thursday
Next goal: send emails consistently at 9a CST on Wednesdays

I haven’t always hit these goals perfectly, but all in all, looking over the past 4+ months, I’ve created some pretty special micro-trainings and strategies to help people engage their purpose and live more of their best life. I’ve received some email responses, and engagement is growing.

All in all, I feel rewarded and more rooted in my purpose than ever before.

As a creative, this has been possible because I chose to consistently nurture creative flow.

Remember, commit to both creativity and consistency at the same time,
decide it’s important enough to commit time to allow for future creativity,
engage the flow and baby step it along the way with micro-goals.

It IS possible to be both creative AND consistent. Even if it’s not done perfectly, over time, the magic unfolds!

Share with me, does this strategy work for you? What creativity has come forth from engaging flow?

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