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9 Ways to Keep You Fresh, Inspired and Creative

Image by Rares Dutu

How do you keep yourself fresh, inspired and creative as a blogger?

I was asked variations of this question three times this week, so thought I’d put my mind to giving a public answer.

There are certainly times when I don’t feel overly ‘fresh’, ‘inspired’ or ‘creative’. However, I guess over the last 10 years of blogging I’ve begun to develop some rhythms and habits that enable me to keep consistently create content on a daily basis.

One of the things that I’ve intuitively done over the last few years is to put aside time each week for activities that help me keep fresh. These activities aren’t specific to blogging and I suspect they might be helpful for people working in many kinds of jobs – particularly those where you need to develop ideas and be creative.

Here’s a quick summary of the types of activities I try to include in my life each week:

1. Inspiration

When I’m not inspired, I find it very difficult to be creative or generate ideas.So every week, I try to build in moments to get in touch with my dreams. I put myself in places where I’m likely to be inspired. This includes everything from spending time with inspirational people, watching inspirational videos (I’m a TED addict), attending inspirational events, watching great movies and reading inspiring books.

2. Preparation

If I’m working on a big project (like a mega blog post, a presentation, or an eBook) I quite often feel quite overwhelmed with the process.

I find I can take some of the pressure off by setting aside ‘preparation’ time for the task of creating the project. I set aside time to research, read on the topic, talk to others and plan out how to go about getting the project done. This might sound a little like procrastination but I find by setting aside time for ‘preparation’, the quality of what I actually ‘create’ (next step) is much higher.

3. Creation

Each week I put aside significant time to ‘create’. For me, the creation is largely around creating content (blog posts, videos, eBooks, presentations) and because of the publication schedule I’m on creation needs to happen on a daily basis. I publish three blog posts per day across my blogs and I need to keep that schedule up.

For me, creation time is usually in the mornings. My Golden Hours are from 9-11am which is a time I protect from intrusions.

4. Completion

A few years ago, I went through a stage of creating a lot of content that would then sit unfinished for weeks, even months. I would get distracted by new things or lose inspiration along the way.

So I’ve started to build time to ‘complete’ into my week and I tackled the things that fall into this category. I often do these ‘completing’ tasks in the afternoons or evenings.

5. Interaction

I’m an introvert. I love people but they suck energy out of me so I naturally feel drawn to spending time alone. This works quite well for me as a blogger as I don’t need to be around people to blog.

However… while being around people takes energy from me I know that there are many benefits of spending time with other people. Sometimes my best ideas emerge in conversation and to grow my business, I’ve needed to bring in others to complement my skills and help me scale. Every Friday, I work in a friend’s office (it’s more of a man cave). Three to four of us (mainly people who are in my team) work side by side on that day. We spend some time working together in a meeting, but also time working on our own projects.

I love these days and often find amazing ideas flow out of them!

6. Mindless Activity

I recently asked my Twitter followers where they get their best ideas. I was amazed how many people said two things – ‘in the shower’ and ‘while walking/exercising’. I’m exactly the same.

I often get light bulb moments while I’m doing some kind of mindless activity. For me, it can be while I walk, shower or weed the garden! I noticed this several years ago so decided to punctuate each day with mindless activities. Most days, I take 15 minute walks 2-3 times a day. I also moved my shower from first thing in the morning to mid-morning.

I don’t schedule these activities for specific times each day but rather once I end something I’m working on, I will just do them then before jumping into the next activity.

7. Play

This one has a little overlap with some of the other activities. I like to set aside a little time each day to ‘play’. By play I mean numerous things including playing with ideas and problems (I journal, mind map and daydream) and playing with my kids (I often find doing lego or doing something creative with my boys stimulates ideas but is also fun time with the kids). I’d also slip photography into this category too.

Having a creative outlet that is not about creating something for the blog gives me a lot of energy.

8. Rest

Five years ago I was proud to say that I worked 60-70 hours a week on my blogging. While I often spoke about work/life balance, I was enjoying my work and so I worked hard – too hard. Unfortunately, I was setting myself up for a fall and came to a point where my heath suffered as I began to suffer from blogger burnout.

These days I not only teach work/life balance but practice it. I take more regular vacations, rarely work on the weekends and schedule a couple of hours off every Wednesday afternoon. I still work hard but I also prioritise rest and I see the positive impact it has upon my blogging (and life).

9. Self Improvement

Lastly, each week I attempt to do something that is not so much about creating content or improves my business but which improves me in some way.

Often we look at the early years of our life when we attend school or university as the ‘educational’ period of our life but I’ve found that if I’m not learning, not stretching myself or not working on doing something to improve skills or knowledge then I often become stagnant. As a result I like to take on mini-projects to work on who I am.

These might range from the fun, I recently took a Thai Cooking class, through to more serious and related to my work like reading a book, taking a course or attending a conference related to my work.

I’d love to know, what do you do to keep yourself fresh, inspired and creative?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. One way that I keep fresh on my blogging and other online projects is by reducing stress in my life based on a physical activity. I am big into bicycling. I will go ride 20-100 miles each ride. It allows me to work out my stress, get into better shape and see something different than a keyboard and WordPress dashboard. It helps me clear my mind and allows me to think more. Being that its Tour de France season, I can also watch that to be inspired for my cycling activities. And like you, I am a photographer so I often jump off the bike to shoot a tree or something that has sparked my interest. Good blog post, friend! :)

  2. pavan says:

    To do any work , being fresh and inspired is important certainly i will have it’s impact on it and really it’s inspired me the activities which listed above will indeed help one or other way to me
    thank you for sharing your activities

  3. Montassar says:

    Thankx for a great post Mr.Rowse . I find TED videos very inspiring too.

  4. George says:

    Thanks for the advice, I too had a hard time keeping up and suffered from blogger burn out but its nice to see people actually benefit from the things you have to say so its worth it in the end.

  5. Okto says:

    Take a break and do other things before get back to blog always work best for me

  6. Henry says:

    Possibility is a nice thing to wake up to. Especially when those possibilities become realized through the day.

  7. Deljo Joseph says:

    Sometimes watching a movie makes me fresh after completing big projects in my ground. Good tips to stay ahead in business along with a peaceful life.

  8. ujjwal says:

    Just Simply Great.

    Thanks @Darren

  9. Adrian Ulise says:

    I feel really inspired, creative and motivated especially after a movie or an article about winning people.

  10. Ferb says:

    The more you rest, the more time you can spend on thing you like to do. Like if you’re over singing you can lead to permanent vocal damage which can be really hard to sing again.

  11. Conferences are the icing for me. Recently went to Mobile Asia Expo held in Shanghai. I’m able to refresh myself and make new leads in the process.

  12. Jerry Thomas says:

    Its really nice things Darren.I like your blog post.& I am inspire. So, Many thanks sharing this informative Article……. Thanks Again.

  13. Sarah Bauer says:

    Thanks so much for this. Blogging as a career does not come with a rulebook, so it’s always so interesting to me to hear how other bloggers conduct their schedules and integrate work/life balance. And I can relate to those golden creation hours in the morning – the earlier the better for me, when the world is peaceful and still.

    Now that it’s summer time, I’ve been able to go back to my favourite blogging break activity – drinking a cold cider in the park with friends. Good conversation, good weather, gets you feeling free as a bird. The best.

    Thanks again!
    Sarah

  14. I’ve found that getting out of the house and socializing is super important. I’m an introvert as well, but I’ve found that the best place to draw inspiration from are social events and crazy adventures with friends.

    I’d also recommend getting out of your daily routine and trying new things if you’re having trouble with finding inspiration.

  15. #6 and #9 resonate with me strongly Darren!

    I generate many ideas while exercising. I take a 10 minute break each hour to hop around a bit and also set aside 30 to 60 minutes for long walks. Works like a charm.

    Once you make #9 a focal point of your life you will never lack for inspiration. I post – combined – 18 to 20 posts on my 2 blogs these days. How? I make personal development a priority, shoot a ton of videos and tap into endless inspiration by working on my mental tools.

    Thanks Darren!

  16. Shana Norris says:

    GREAT ideas, Darren. This is a very helpful post.

    My husband is an artist (painter) and he does a fantastic job of reminding me that if I get out and LIVE life, I’ll have more to write about and will feel more creatively inspired.

  17. I commute to work on the bus and train each work day. I will often read during this time but sometimes I will just enjoy the scenery on the way to or from work. Several blog ideas have come to me during this time. I have also had ideas reading but letting your mind relax and wander can be a well spring of inspiration.

  18. Angid says:

    Great post. Dividing the day into blocks is what works for me: meditation and yoga time, focus on blog and business time, food and eating and good lovin’ time, and teaching time, where the interaction with students is wonderfully inspiring. But I’m also learning the importance of irrelevant time – nothing related to yoga or work. And, yes, to schedule breaks and holidays… Not always easy when you work for yourself.

  19. Amrik Virdi says:

    Great post. Indeed!
    I found TED videos quite motivational and full of inspiration.

    Regards,
    Amrik Virdi

  20. As a photographer for the past 6+ years, sometimes i find it indeed difficult to stay motivated and inspired to take photographs. Very good post.

  21. Zeny says:

    Your article is very useful, Yeah, When it comes to business, maybe a lot of boredom! therefore I often watch movies, swim or ride a bike .. So that my brain back fresh …

  22. Erna Y. Sosa says:

    I am a teacher of 15 years and a mom of 5. OHHHHH MYYYY GOSH, I laughed reading this. I stepped away from teaching 2 years ago and I am seeing this through a whole new set of eyes. And what is it with the last 6 weeks is project land? I have 7, 10, 13, 14 and 19 yr old kids and 2 out of my middle ones were slammed with elaborate projects or ridiculous homework loads. I just started laughing like a crazy woman when my son handed me another Spanish project sheet. I felt like screaming-HOW ABOUT READ A BOOK? hahaha. This was a funny article and TRUE!

  23. This is my biggest problem – staying fresh and creative. Unlike so many other who are writers who cannot keep up with their ideas, I sometimes feel like I’m trying to get blood from a stone. So I appreciate the tips.

  24. Alex says:

    I am an introvert as well. The part where you said that being on your own is ideal for blogging related a lot to myself. A couple of days ago my friend called me and asked me an IT related question, to which I answered in comprehensive manner, when in reality I should have said just a few words. That also inspired me to think of an idea for a blog post. Thanks.

  25. Hi,

    It’s so true when you say doing things like; “playing Lego with your kids” somehow sets off that spark and engages the brain to think of something you can use to work with for your next blog post.

    I think if we all sat down for 10 – 30 minutes (at least) a week and wrote down what we could be writing about on our blog posts, we would be truly amazed at how many different topics we could come with.

    Of course we are not just here to tell fictional stories but if you select a main group of ideas and then try to break them down into sub-categories, you’ll find tons of useful information you could be writing about.

    Thanks again.

  26. Marta L says:

    After reading this article, I hope to be creative and have inspiration in the blog about travelling which I recently started to write…!

  27. For me, I take time for myself. I also use quiet time as a way to clear my head and to be able to plan my posts better. I also get inspiration from my readers, radio show guests as well as Google analytics. I use my analytics to see what my readers are searching for. Then, I give it to them in a post.

  28. Beth Hewitt says:

    I love how we get our best ideas when we are doing those things that allow us to lose ourselves in our thoughts, like washing up, in the shower while driving. It is really fascinating. Thanks for a great post.

    Beth :)

  29. I also find that it’s as important to consume great content as it is to create it. Reading a lot of other people’s blogs keeps me fresher because it helps me understand what’s going on in terms of the “greater conversation,” giving me an opportunity to create content that responds to that conversation and joins it, and not just content which I created in a vacuum.

  30. Maurice says:

    Right on! What I hear you saying is that it’s important to keep a balance in your life. More time than is necessary can be spent working on a blog because of lack of focus. Some of us get distracted more easily than others. But with practice it can be managed

  31. Tom Reber says:

    Darren-

    Great list.

    My #1 source of staying fresh is to workout. Without fail, when I consistently make sure I’m eating good, drinking a lot of water and getting my body moving, I am inspired and dream bigger. I also work harder…which obviously helps things!

  32. Guestblo says:

    First of all, I would like to thank you for sharing such unique ideas for keeping ourselves fresh as bloggers. I would like to share that as a regular blogger, even I find myself running out of ideas and vocab as well. Reading newspapers thoroughly is something that I have done from my childhood, and I still find it addictive. I bounce back to it whenever things getting a bit difficult.

  33. I always find it difficult to keep fresh when blogging and trying to come up with new ideas. I hear a lot of bloggers say they have soooo many ideas on topics to write about, but I sort of run out after a while! In the end I created a news section so that there would always be something new, fresh and current to write about!
    Great blog! Keep it up!

  34. Arun Singh says:

    I love your point about blogging allowing you to stay aside.
    I do feel like my computer – in general – is my homeopathic interaction with the world!
    As long as your words are touching others, this is all what matters to be part of something…

  35. Great list, thanks for sharing!

  36. Evan Volgas says:

    I have to spend some time in the morning, and sometimes in the afternoon as well, far away from emails and phone distractions. It’s surprising when you turn communications off for an hour, or even 30 minutes, how much clearer your thinking becomes, and how much easier it is to get good work done.

  37. Nikki Comma says:

    Wonderful list. You may have inspired me to take more time for mindless activity. :)

  38. dan says:

    Great. I think creative time is especially important for staying inspired and motivated

  39. Cat Fyson says:

    Hi Darren,

    Some great tips here – I find that writing for pleasure as well as for business keeps me fresh and inspired. It also helps to hone my craft and come up with more ideas. My ideas also come to me at the strangest of times, but I do luckily find I can put myself in a creative mood when needed.

  40. Jan Koch says:

    I can definitely see myself in this list and I agree on every single point!
    I’m working most time alone on my blogs as well, at least when it comes to physically meeting people.
    Thanks to the internet I’m connected to my business partners all time if I need to have a chat with them.
    Buliding a network of worldwide contacts is one of the things that I love most being an entrepreneur!

    Thanks for sharing :-)

  41. Deina says:

    Great post! I’ve been reading about GDA (Getting Things Done) for a while and even implemented my Moleskine into my GDA, This post definitely made me re-think about my GDA plan! :)

  42. Andrea says:

    I get inspired by taking photographs and doing artwork such as collage, these activities give me a new perspective and seeing things in a new way generates new ideas for posts. Thank you for your helpful advice.

  43. Andrea says:

    I find inspiration by taking photographs and doing art such as collage. These creative activities give me a new way of looking at my environment, and inspire ideas for posts. Thank you for the helpful advice.

  44. Annie G. says:

    Great ideas! Thanks!

  45. PRroi says:

    Dear Darren, I follow your work for several years and is the first time I leave a message. And I do it to just thank you so much you’ve helped me and the many people who probably think the same as me.
    Thank you very much.

  46. I like the self improvement idea. You can work to make your life better and blog about it at the same time. Even if no one reads the blog, your life is still better, so it is worth your time!

  47. Wow such a comprehensive list already. Hard to add much more value. This may be a part of the “self improvement” section – or perhaps “play” – but I find reading books on unrelated subjects extremely refreshing for blog ideas. Sounds counter-intuitive but sometime you have to leave your “circle” to grow it. Anyway, thanks for your ideas.

  48. Hi Darren,

    Like many other people, I also like your work. Keep it up as your work inspires many others. This is a great list here. Writers, when they are overworked and tired, they run out of ideas. Since writing needs creativity and thought, refreshing mind and body is as essential as writing itself. For me, going out for a leisurely walk is the best idea.

  49. Charmie says:

    Hey Darren,
    Wowe, so while reading your article I was actually planning to go and have a super duper awesome outing. :P Holidays and breaks are much when you live such hectic schedules round-the-clock.

    Thanks a lot for making us nostalgic and making us remember to dive into our stupid activities of past for a better change.

    Regards :)
    Charmie

  50. Ade Kurnia M says:

    Dear Darren, First time I know you from my best friend Joe Alafarby. He is a big fans of The great Darren Rowse. I think I should follow him to admire you, admire about your hard work for many years. This is my first comment, this is very inspired me, of course. Thank’s for the great ideas.