Ever wonder where inspiration comes from? Sometimes it feels like a bolt from the blue - you're stood in the shower or walking in the park and ‘BAM!’ an amazing idea just hits you. Other times, it feels like pulling teeth; scraping the bottom of every barrel you have to find even one tiny shred of an idea that could yield -something- worth exploring.

Does this feel familiar?

The big question: Does inspiration only strike when it s trikes or can we take control, giving it a kick up the bum? Are we working for it or can we make it work for us?

The thing about 'shower thoughts' or ideas popping up when we are trying to get to sleep is that our mind is at its most restful. We have unfettered access to the best bits of whatever makes us creative because we're not forcing it; we've switched off, opened the gate, and all the good stuff can come through.

Sadly, we can't always head for a nap or jump in the shower when we feel the need to find our inspiration... can we?

Waiting on inspiration to strike - hanging around until you're 'in the mood' for creativity - could mean that you are waiting for a very, very long time; forever maybe.

The act of waiting for inspiration to strike isn't the glorious rest our creative mind needs to surface our best ideas; it's like waiting for the dentist to call you for your appointment. You're anticipating something; anxious for your turn; worrying that it might be painful when it eventually happens! You beat yourself up that you're not capable of cooking up amazing ideas 24/7 and - in doing so - totally block yourself from ever coming up with something.

The cycle perpetuates itself.

But here's the thing. There's no need to wait; there's no need to beat yourself up; there's no need to become a martyr for your craft. And contrary the popular caricature, artists definitely don't need to starve!

Get to doing

You've heard it before but it’s worth repeating.

The act of creating boosts your ability to create. Action begets action.

It's not a trite aphorism; it's a fact. While it might feel hard to begin, when you're going your brain takes over. Muscle memory kicks in and you are doin’ it.

Case in point: writing this article felt like a herculean task for me. I drafted some key ideas and then... stopped. I didn't feel 'in the mood' to write. Well tough shit, guy! Get on with the writing. I started clacking my keys, expanding on the outline and guess what: it started to flow.

The act of creating gives your brain a reason to wake up, spark good thoughts, and let ideas form. You'll probably find, too, that you're inspired to explore other things as you're going; 'getting creative' in places you haven't been bothered to explore for a hot minute.

Creating grows inspiration grows curiosity grows exploration grows creativity!

It's the creative lifecycle.

What does this mean for you as a business owner?

When you're feeling in a tough spot with your creative business it can absolutely feel like the end of the world.

Got no active clients? Panic. How do I even go about finding clients again?

Got no ideas for a project? Panic. How on earth do I even do client work?

Got no inspiration to share on social media? Panic. How on earth do I engage with people in 2022?!

The same 'act of doing' goes for your business. It only takes one step. Finding something to cook up just as single idea will get the fire burning and perpetuate the creativity and the progress.

A photo of a clapper board by Jakob and Ryan on Unsplash

Take action.

If you're feeling totally blocked and no amount of 'one step at a time' and 'just get going' is helping, think on what follows to get you to your starting point.

What's in your way?

We said previously that by not doing you end up blocking yourself. Is this the only thing that's blocking you? Are there other things on your mind that are getting in your way? Are these things real or imagined? Take a minute to consider what's stopping you from getting going.

Set goals.

You don't know if you've gotten somewhere if you haven't decided where you might like to go! Setting yourself a goal - big or small, easy or challenging - is a great way to get yourself moving. You can define where you'd like to end up and then decide what the first step will be. It’s taking the pressure of the unknown away since once you know where you want to go (and why), the how will do its best to work itself out.

What works for you works for you.

It's great to look at how others work, follow their inspiration, and live up to whatever success has come their way. But your processes and practices are what work for you and nobody else. Trying to model someone else's path exactly is a surefire way to end up in more pain than you're already in. Deviate; mix and match; play. By doing more, you'll learn what works and what doesn't. Theorising about it alone yields nothing but theories.

Please show up.

This is important. I am not advocating grafting, grinding, or burning yourself out for all the hours because "you must achieve something in your business". Absolutely not. However, finding a way to show up and do something in your way is very important. A little consistency - even one 45-minute chunk of work a day - will help. Show up a little now then a little more next time.

Before you know it you'll have found your rhythm and will be unstoppable!

Nobody ever said running a creative freelance business was going to be easy. But, by allowing yourself to act, grow your creative muscle, and fill your inspiration fountain it can be very rewarding. It will yield the kind of success that matters to you.