A surprising key to unlocking creativity might be the last thing you expect, and that is consistency.
We might assume creative types are those who wait for inspiration to strike, then delve into a frenzy of creativity. The elusive muse whispers a genius idea to them spur of the moment, and they lock themselves in a room for days until they emerge to present a perfect final product.
However, there is more discipline to creativity than we imagine.
Motivational speaker Tony Robbins said, “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” Even in the creative process, consistency becomes habit, which produces reliable results…versus random surges of creative flow.
Discipline goes hand in hand with consistency. While I was writing the book Conditioning Your Mind: Fuel Creativity to Ignite Innovation, I came across a quote by writer Ayelet Waldman. She says, “Forget discovery. Think about discipline. Writing is a habit – a physical habit. You can’t wait for the muse – you must just sit down at the same time every day to do your work.” In this way, consistency actually promotes creativity.
Creativity is like muscle memory. A professional athlete doesn’t work out only when they feel inspired to train. They consistently train, persisting through pain, exhaustion, and frustration. They show up daily and do the work necessary to excel – that’s how they make it to the realm of the elite.
You may not always feel inspired when you sit down to solve a problem, or write a book, or design a new logo for your company. But when you show up to the task consistently, creativity will come to you during the time you designate for it. This may seem counterintuitive, but when you make the space for creativity, and it knows when and where to show up, you might be surprised how creative your work becomes.
For more on how consistency encourages creativity, read Gregory Ciotti’s article “The Under-Appreciated Benefits of Creative Consistency.”