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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. SAJID says:

    For sure Darren…. If you are not inspired you can do nothing. So to come up with a new great idea one must be inspiring enough to make his voice heard…Btw Great Ideas too.. I would love to follow these steps to take more and more new and fresh articles.

  2. Gracia says:

    Great article! sometimes we need to step back in order to refresh ourself with creative ideas

  3. I find that when I am out of Ideas I for travelwellbeing I simply talk to others about what intrests them and what are there main concerns.

    Sometimes I just take a nap

    Good post

  4. Great post! These are all the things you defiantly need to be an excellent photographer……hence the reason I am not a photographer lol. Keep up the good work!

  5. Elena says:

    I totally agree that preparation and creation are essential to keeping content fresh. This is also a process where you learn about yourself. I find that taking a step back helps you think outside of the box. Thanks for the lift!

  6. Daniel says:

    Nice breakdown which I’ll try to come back to and keep reading now and again. It’s easy to get caught up in it all.

  7. You definitely need some inspiration in your life to keep you motivated… I look up to those who have achieved what I hope to attain and try to emulate them.. Getting out into nature also helps to inspire my creativity.. Just going for a walk or run through the forest or along the lake gets ideas firing in my head for projects!

  8. Len Bowcott says:

    Darren, I hit blogger burnout without even noticing it until I read this post. I worked too hard for too long I guess, then lately I’ve been spending my time building the websites I need for my upcoming global globetrotting adventure, working on my eBook, writing articles for my copywriting clients, and so on. Pretty much anything I could do not to blog but still rationalize not doing so. I realized as I read your post here I had taken a break, now do little else. I checked my blogs saw that I had not posted anywhere for weeks, and some blogs for a couple of months. Not good, because my blogs are my main source of income. Thanks for the subtle slap that I obviously needed to get refocused.

    • Hey there Len,

      I was like you in the past, getting that blogger burnout and then working on other things only to not give my blogs the attention they required. One of my main tactics is creating schedules on a monthly basis. One week, I will blog on certain days and add to my eBooks on certain days, the next week will be the same but on different days so its not the same each week. It helps to keep it from being the same old same old. I make a 4-week schedule each month, write it down and follow it. :)

  9. Tony says:

    It’s such a great article

    I often watch a movie after a big projects that makes me feel fresh and more comfortable. Good tips to stay ahead in business along with a peaceful life.

  10. Vizzi says:

    We all are very creative creatures. Fostering our innate creativity is the hard part. In short, we need to learn how to fight the killers of our creativity; fear, anxiety, and doubt. If we can figure out how to keep these bad emotions at bay, we will reach our true creative potential.

    So relax and take it easy. Put yourself into relaxing environments and surround yourself with people that calm you. Your creativity will thank you for it.

    Not to spam or be that guy, but it’s topical. We have some great and recent posts on stimulating creativity over at VizziBlog if anyone’s interested.

  11. Ajay Sharma says:

    Great post. Blogging requires quite amount of freshness and creativity. This can be helpful to remain fresh and energetic

  12. amit kulat says:

    good ideas for getting refreshment…truely it will surely help me in my blogging career

  13. Great post Darren! Nice to see that you’re also following the same tips that everyone else is trying to be fresh and creative. But it’s just that you’re implementing these tips with greater success while others don’t even give these an honest try.

  14. sue says:

    May I ask: Does the process of creating content get shorter/quicker for the same amount of output, Darren? Thank you. Sue

  15. Faisal says:

    Well these are good tips :)
    playing game will definitely reduce our tension. It also give freshness.

  16. Phil says:

    Some really good points on the work life balance. I especially empathize with the getting good ideas during mindless activities. I always find myself thinking about ideas for posts and work when I am out walking.
    Normally I have forgotten a lot of them by the time I get back though, got to try and work out a way to remember them, so many of them are winning ideas too…honest.
    Seriously I am amazed how many simple ideas come to me when walking as when trying to think of them specifically they just elude me.
    As for doing things that improve myself, I have decided to take up Japanese, though as I have a blog about Japan I will be blogging about that too.

  17. Farouk says:

    The final four tips are the ones that I needed. Thanks for the advice and keep on inspiring others.

  18. sally smith says:

    Hi Darren, I am very new to the world of blogging, lots of ups & down’s but generally I love it & its great to share creative passion. I am so glad I have come across your site, thanks for all the info & inspiration to keep going, Sally

  19. Aisha says:

    Wonderful post….I am totally agree with your point “Interaction”.Try to interact with different circles of people to open up different pathways in conversation and thought patterns.Brainstorming with others can really spark things inside you that you would never have realize sitting alone at home

  20. Hi Darren

    TED videos are very inspiring. I also watch them so as to get much needed creativity boast when am on the lower side. Mindless activities you have listed usually play important role in boasting creativity

    I don’t know if i can connect this article to two of my creativity articles:

    20 Ways To Get Fresh Blog Ideas

    Keep Your Creativity Fresh With These Killer Stratergies

    Thanks

  21. Sweety says:

    Darren, thank you for give a concrete form to the things that are obvious. Almost every internet marketer go through these phases. Even I am no exception. Recognizing one’s weakness and overcoming is what counts. This is an amazing post. Newbie would greatly benefit from it.

  22. shelley says:

    Thank you for writing about how you keep inspired and keep fresh ideas and creativity. I especially liked your number 5 Interaction. I now feel quite normal after reading how you are quite introverted and as much as you enjoy other people you do find them energy sucking, I too feel this way and i thought i was a weirdo so a big thanks for letting me know i am not alone lol.
    Don’t get me wrong i really do love people and i am a hairstylist so i am full on with people but gosh it is so nice to have your own space,
    I too find i get some of my best lightbulb moments either whilst in the shower or when i am just having some quiet time.
    love reading your blog and i surely will be back for some more.
    All the best
    Shelley

  23. p Shah says:

    Thanks for this article you have shared, there are some great tips to keep you motivated. I take some time out at the end of every day and compile a list of tasks which helps me to focus on my goals for the next day. I also find writing tasks down helps to get organised and is less stressful than keeping all the information in my head to remember ;)

  24. Nikhil says:

    Great…… these are the best way to refresh your mind…. thank you for sharing this will surely help me a lot ……:)

  25. Nate says:

    Great article Darren. Is there any advice you would give to someone who has to be creative in a short-time period? For example, has to create a new product line in just under 2-3 days? (I know… its a bit extreme…)

  26. Akinsola says:

    I appreciate this post thanks, I have been battling with staying focus for two weeks now, combining work loads and my personal work which has doubled has not been easy. I was losing motivations but this post helped me.

  27. Sameer says:

    Great words..! #1. Inspiration:without inspiration no one can do anything in life,and inspiration with self improvement is worth-while,thank you for such great post.

  28. Jolene says:

    I find I’m most creative when I’m away from the computer and distractions. With an old fashioned notebook and pen in hand and I just write whatever comes to me!

  29. mieztic says:

    This is great article. I have decided to read all you articles. Thanks you for sharing.
    Types of Investments

  30. I find going to a coffee shop with a sketch pad and pencils helps me to clear my mind and tap into that creative part of me that gets lost in the internet.

    Great article, Matt Sullivan

  31. A good article Darren. I like the way you have broken things up into digestible chunks. I like influential stuff like this that really gets you thinking. It does benefit us creative people who have to think outside the box usually to please people on a daily basis.

  32. Will Coull says:

    Nice article Darren.
    I think reflection is also important. To analyse when you have gone through creative or inspired periods of writing, and remember how or why this was and to try and replicate and learn from it.

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  33. wow this is a great post

  34. Jon says:

    Thanks for the tips.

  35. Charlie says:

    What inspires me to add fresh new content is when I see fresh new comments (relevant to the article), and more importantly, when I see a rise in my traffic! When I don’t see these, I guess you can say, “I lose interest” – so it goes up and down, up and down with my inspiration and creative work!

  36. It is a must that while writing a post , you should be fully creative and inspired !
    You have given some important ways to get inspird and creative !

    THanks

    Regards ,
    Rizwan @ Blogger Kid

  37. Rohit says:

    Great Tips. Totally agree with the point that showering can sometimes give you great ideas. Basically you need to block out distractions and be in a relaxed mind of state when brainstorming for new ideas. This leads to better ideas! Inspiration and motivation should always play a role in your content creation!

  38. Ahmed Sharif says:

    inspiration is all around us…. we all know these points more or less, but to bring all of these together to show how we miss inspiration opportunities everyday and how we can have an ‘inspiration plan’ is something special…. nice write-up, Darren!!

  39. Soccerwidow says:

    Thanks for this great article, Darren :)

    I pay a lot of attention to pursue a healthy work-life-balance. For example, I try not to work more than 10 hours a day with a break at midday, prefarably something what requires to move the body. If the weather is not nice enough for walking or beach then I find cleaning the house or yoga exercises being good alternatives.

    I find it is also quite important to stay in touch with friends and maintain a busy social network, not only for getting other people’s inout but also have some quality time which is not spend in front of the computer.

    Setting goals also helps me to achieve and at the end of the day I aim to report to myself that at least 5 actions have been completed, e.g. one article published, a certain programming issue addressed, clients email list updated, etc.

  40. Katie says:

    Couldn’t meditation be considered rest as well?

  41. These are all exceptional ideas that I could definitely see myself implementing into my life style! Thanks for sharing!

  42. Osman Hameed says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! I really needed a reminder to slow down and take it back a notch.

  43. I’m also a TED Talks addict for inspiration and ideas! And the shower or while driving I also get great ideas. Especially if I use the bathtub once in a while.

  44. Bernard says:

    #5 really resonated with me. I’ve found that as I explain something or have a conversation related to my interested, as I’m talking I literally come up with ideas. I think a lot of it has to do with having to communicate your idea to someone for the first time. It brings clarity.

  45. Surya says:

    Thanks for this wonderful post. I think all the things depends upon how one perceive the things. This article has added some value on how to perceive. Thanks

  46. Priya says:

    Really inspiring article. I generally play chess online and it keeps me fresh with new ideas always.

  47. Jon Poland says:

    Darren: I really like point #3 (Create) and point #4 (Completion) that you listed in your post. Both points have the same purpose: “Create a block of interrupted time that is dedicated to one specific task.” And for the blogger, there is no task more important than creating content.

    I have come to the realization that I must do what you are doing in “Create” — block out two hours in the morning to create content. Then make the rest of the day fit around that block of time.

    As for staying fresh and inspired, I do a couple things. First of all, I work out. When I’m getting exercise on a consistent basis I blow through barriers that tend to hold me back when I am not being active. When I exercise my mind is clear and my energy is high — and so is my productivity.

    I also have a business journal where I document all thoughts and ideas that relate to my business. Once every three to four days I will sit down and take everything in my head and put it on paper. I refer to it as a brain dump. It is a great way to clear the mind.

    Try it at night before you go to bed. You’ll be amazed at how well you’ll sleep. And then you will arise in the morning feeling fully charged and ready to go.

    If your business has you stressed I highly recommend it. Years ago I read a piece from Dr. Andrew Weill where he stated that he recommends journaling for all of his patients who suffer from hyper-tension. Journaling is a great way to relieve stress and it also gives you mental clarity. I highly recommend it.

  48. Manish says:

    Nice post Darren, Creativity decides how long we can survive in blogging. Your post is inspiring one.

  49. vaibhav says:

    hi thanks for this post I have come to the realization that I must do what you are doing in “Create” — block out two hours in the morning to create content

  50. Chris Spink says:

    Thanks Darren for this post. I particularly like the idea of staying fresh to continue to be creative when you blog. If he is really important to play, have mindless activity and plenty of rest. That way we can stay fresh to continue to be creative in our blogging.
    Thanks again
    Chris