“I’m going to write a novel,” we say on Monday. “I will sit down at 9 a.m. and write until 3 p.m. every day until the book is done.” By Wednesday we can barely get ourselves to sit, much less write.
That’s because you can’t make creativity hew to your will, says Carolyn Gregoire, co-author of Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind. Gregoire says that, while writing her book, she had periods of intense productivity as well as ones when she barely wrote. “Those times were just part of the process. It’s called creative incubation—letting ideas simmer.”
The solution: Don’t force it. “Find the places and times that you feel it and try to maximize those times,” she says.
Trying to bully creativity is just one way we mess with our muse. Gregoire identifies these additional mistakes:
Clicking and scrolling:
“Constant distraction and multitasking keeps us on a surface level of thought,” Gregoire says. “Without stretches of free time to daydream, we’re not able to make creative connections.”
Play is crucial to adult creativity. Too many of us approach even creative work as work. Make time for play: Take up yoga, redecorate your apartment or learn the guitar.
Slipping into routine:
Openness to new experiences is the personality trait most closely tied to originality. Big changes like travel help, but so can small ones like trying a new restaurant.
This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.