How to Jumpstart Your Inspiration

Inspiration is like a disease whose symptoms are the words “I don’t feel like it right now.” What can you do when you need a boost of creative inspiration and it just isn’t coming? Work anyway. That’s not the most inspiring advice you’ve gotten today, I’m sure but working regardless of how you feel has some serious benefits.

1. You’ll have something to show. It might suck, but it’s a start

You don’t feel like writing tests  today, but do it anyway (this is my business now: writing SAT questions for tests.) Sure, it won’t be the best effort but editing  is better than not having anything to show at all for your time.

Learning to write tests well also means wading through a lot of stuff. Better get started on that learning curve now. Sure, it’ll be hard at first but if you think running a business online is supposed to be easy let’s just burst that bubble right now.

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2. Inspiration gets in the habit of showing up regularly

The more regular your work schedule, the more you’ll start to notice that your creative juices start flowing at just the right time every day. Somerset Maugham’s inspiration showed up at 9 a.m. every morning because he showed up at 9 a.m. every morning.

The more you call on it, the more it will show up. Think of your mind like a economy – supply is governed by demand. For the same reason your body feels more energetic when you exercise, you’ll start to feel more inspired the more you work. The supply will begin to equal the demand you put on it.

3. It’s what a professional does

Amateurs have hobbies they work on when they feel like it. Professionals have jobs. These jobs pay them money. These jobs are serious and shouldn’t be treated as anything less than what they are. You’d show up to a salaried job every day, why would you give your online business any less than that kind of dedication?

Sure, you’re the boss now but you wouldn’t accept that kind of amateur behavior from an employee, why accept that from yourself? Professionals get to work. Every day. Because it’s what they do for a living. Not for fun. Not for pleasure. For a living. For eating, bathing and having a place to sleep. Are you willing to leave all of those things to the whim of inspiration? Me neither. What can you and I do about it? Get to work.

Don’t Chase Purple Cows: A Guide To Maximizing Professional Creativity

Purple Cow is the term that Seth Godin created to describe revolutionary products and services. Purple Cows are different, unique. They stand out from the crowd, get noticed and find success. And that’s great and all, but don’t be fooled by these Purple Cows. They’re nice. But they’re also distracting.

Not Everyone Can Be Unique

Being unique can only happen so many times in any given niche. It doesn’t take long before you’re copying someone. Ball point pens are good (if not mundane) example. The Bic pen was revolutionary only because it worked. The same technology had been tried many, many times before. The design wasn’t unique. The technology wasn’t unique. The success was: Being unique happens once.

After that you’re just improving on what was already there. How many people do you think can develop a truly unique product and see it through from start to finish before anyone else in that market has the same idea? If history is a good indicator, very few. So where do you go from here? Are true Purple Cows a myth? A fluke? If they do exist, how do you make one? What is the secret to creating the truly unique, one-of-a-kind?

Uniqueness is Resistance

Searching for Purple Cows is a form of resistance, of procrastinating. You’d love to get to work today . . . but it doesn’t feel right yet. Maybe tomorrow you’ll have a better idea. That type of excuse is logical, which makes it all the more dangerous. It is resistance at its most insidious. The resistances says “If you can’t do it right, don’t do it. You don’t want your name on something that isn’t your best work.”

Believe that and you’re doomed. It is a necessity for your work to suck. There is no other way to be great than to learn how not to suck. And there is no other way to learn how not to suck than to keep working. Chasing Purple Cows is the mark of an amateur. Getting to work is the mark of a pro.

Let the Cow Find You

Any great writer has 100 shitty pieces to every 1 piece of brilliance. Any great painter has 100 shitty paintings to every 1 masterpiece. Brilliance comes out of failure. Aerosmith said it best: “You gotta lose to know how to win.” Trying to be brilliant stifles brilliance. Trying to be funny stifles humor. Searching for the Cow, stifles the Cow.

The only way to create a Purple Cow is to let the cow find you. Sit down every day and work. Work with only your work in mind. You may create 100 mediocre products, but eventually the Cow will find you. You’ll find 100 ways to be better at what you do and 100 products to show for your effort.

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