The One Secret Little Word That Made Me Seven Times More Creative

More than any other element, the core of being as creative as you can be – in both quality and quantity – is to create every day.

I found this recently again with my own writing habits, after getting a little too causally confident. It turns out that one little word was the secret to making me seven times more prolific as a writer.

image: Photo Gallery

Here’s the story:

Back in February this year, I began this blog by committing to writing a new post every day, so there’d be a good body of material for you the reader as soon as possible.

Some days were easier than others, but the more you get into the flow, the more naturally the new ideas and the writing comes.

I wrote 70 posts in 70 days, and then, nonchalantly I thought I would ease off a little and maybe go for three posts a week. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if I didn’t write some days, I’d still be able to keep that steady input of new material, and it’d actually give me more ideas to develop, as I would develop them less frequently. So I thought.

The problem is, for me, choosing which days to create and which not to always brings its dangers.

Would I write a new post Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays? Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday? The days, it turns out, were irrelevant. The issue came from having given myself too much choice, and too much freedom.

When it came to writing blog posts, I’d consider at the start of each day: “Shall I create today?” and this immediately allows escape hatch answers like “No, I’m not really in the mood today, I’ll write tomorrow” or “I have some good ideas today, but maybe tomorrow some even better ones would have come to me. I’ll wait until then.”

And, yes you’ve guessed it, the next day I’d have exactly the same kind of internal debate.

When I was creating everyday, writing and posting a new article every single day, the question in my mind was different by just a single short word.

But that word that made an incredible difference to my creativity.

Instead of asking “Shall I create today?”, when I’d made that commitment to write every day, the question became “WHAT shall I create today?”

A simple trick, the good old presupposition. Instead of asking if, and giving yourself the option to say no, you ask what, or how.

As I’m writing this, halfway into May, I have just two published posts this month. Which averages out to about one every seven days. In March and April, I wrote a new post every day.

Seven times more creative.

The secret is down to that single word. WHAT shall I create today. The fact that I will create today is never in question. The option to not create is removed, along with all the associated angst, debate and opportunities to procrastinate.

Before you come up with a list of excuses about not having enough time to create for hours a day, it doesn’t need to be anything like that long. Just 10 or 15 minutes is enough.

Create every day for the next 14 days – asking yourself “What shall I create today?” and you’ll likely see your own creativity soar like mine did.

(And yes, as from yesterday, I’m back to a new post each and every day. Why mess with what works?)

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10 thoughts on “The One Secret Little Word That Made Me Seven Times More Creative”

  1. Ah thanks DJ, that’s very encouraging. I’m going to write more about this in the future. As artists we tend to want to feel free and untethered by concepts such as routine and habit, believing we should be free to create however, whatever, and whenever we want. But the truth is, building creative habits where you just get on and create and bypass all that analysis is so powerful.

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  2. You make a very good point, Dan. I’ve noticed that giving myself more freedom doesn’t work for me. I have to have some structure otherwise I tend to waft through my day, not actually achieving much.

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    1. That’s a brilliant way of describing it Robyn – wafting through the day!

      The only danger with this method I’ve found is it can then be easy, once you’ve made your commitment and done your 15/30/60+ mins creating to then sit back and coast, feeling all pleased with yourself for creating, and then, like you say, waft through the rest of the day, when you could have flowed with that initial momentum and gone on to create far more that day.

      There’s a happy medium somewhere in the middle. Creating a bare minimum at least every day, feeling you’ve been productive, but not burning yourself out.

      Thanks for your input.

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  3. Hooray! I really am glad to see you will be posting every day again. I admit I got a little spoiled, because I was disappointed when your posts became less frequent.

    I do like this idea of asking yourself WHAT will I create today. On the busier or less motivated days, I’ll be sure to find 10 or 15 minutes to create some kind of art. But, most days I am hoping to devote at least a couple hours. I like the idea of finding a balance and not impose TOO much of either method. That is, too much freedom or too much structure and since everyone is different, you find the balance that works for you.

    Thank you, Dan. Looking forward to your post tomorrow, and the next day, and the next… Ok, I’m being greedy again. Maybe you could take ONE day off πŸ˜›

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  4. Thanks for the ongoing encouragement Diane. πŸ™‚

    I realise just by you saying that, that by posting every day I’m practicing what I preach, and leading by example, ie creating every day.

    Great to hear you’re creating every day too.

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  5. I love this concept because creativity needs encouragement and this approach is like waking up every day and saying “yes” to the creative kid inside you. It needs that pat on the back. It’s an engaging and alive choice to make first thing in the morning. Thanks Dan.

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  6. Exactly Katie, our creativity needs permission, then encouragement. I like the idea of a creative kid inside. It’s absolutely about choice, about making the choice to be creative and then going out and doing it, rather than sitting hoping, wishing, that some great inspiration will fall into your lap at any moment.

    Thanks for your thoughts. πŸ™‚

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  7. Dan,
    Your recommendation is great.You just have to put yourself in bondage of Creativity in order to be freedomly creative:a creator must routinely create if he doesnt lose his call.I sense this when i stopped my meditating session.To start again has been an hassle.Time ago it was natural but it’s like a toil now.But i plan to give daily session for my writng skills and meditation.You are great.

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