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Finding Your Rhythm as a Creative

What happens when you can’t get into the zone?

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Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.

Hey, my creative friend, have you ever developed writer’s block where you found it impossible to come up with the right words to write? Or have you ever become complacent in your workflow, where it feels like you are on a treadmill running in place? Have you ever run out of ideas, finding yourself unavailable mentally to everyone around you, all because you can’t find that rhythm?

If you take notice, the Earth, the sun and the moon all move in a rhythm. That keeps the flow of night and day going. Without that rhythm, things would become very strange.

I can allude back to the great Michael Jordan, who would get into a rhythm while playing where no one on the court could stop him and no one in the stands could disturb his train of thought. That is the rhythm that we creatives love to enter. When our workflow becomes magnetic, the results are heavenly. But what happens when you can’t get into that zone? What happens when no matter what you do, you can’t find the inspiration to get into your rhythm?

In this article, I hope to help you get there or get back there.

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The first thing I would recommend is “rest.” We live in a continuous society: Everybody and everything are moving at a nonstop pace. The mantra that a lot of entrepreneurs live by is “Hustlers don’t sleep, instead they take naps.” But this is such an unhealthy way of life. The body needs rest and the brain needs a break — and forced effort is not effective at all in my honest opinion. For me as a creative, rest has provided space for revitalization. I compare it to hitting the restart button on your computer. I can take it even further by relating it to hitting the reset button on a nostalgic Nintendo 64 box in the middle of playing a game. It allows a do-over.

Another way to get your rhythm back is to find a piece of inspiration. Watching a documentary, reading a book and/or having a great conversation can all spark that rhythm. Fight the temptation to just give up. Sometimes you have to do something different to get a different result. Learning to feed off someone else’s energy can be a good thing if that plate gives you positive “food.” So, make sure that person, book and/or documentary produces an uplifting end. Stay out of the waiting room of the negative.

My final way to get your rhythm back is to cultivate patience. While “patience is a virtue” is certainly a cliché, it rings true. Having patience can help you to be more observant. For instance, maybe it was something that you were doing wrong that caused a kink in your workflow. Patience can assist in pinpointing the issue and creating a plan of escape. I have found it to also be a peaceful problem-solving method. When you rush things, it can be very easy to find yourself becoming frustrated. On the playground of irritation, there are many mistakes made that can kill both creativity and rhythm. That is because creativity is supposed to be a free flow. Nothing should stand in the middle of your creative rollercoaster. Once you gain that momentum then you will experience the rhythm kicking in: the sound of freedom, the taste of success and the feeling of joy.

We as creatives have a great responsibility, and that is to keep the world evolving. Whether that be in music, film, business, inventions and other prominent innovations, the bottom line is that we matter. Some days I lose my rhythm and have to find ways to get back on track. On other days I am on point and everything is flowing correctly. That is the balance we all have in life: good days and then bad ones. I don’t believe that anyone can escape this headlock. However, as long as you don’t give up in your pursuit to keep that rhythm flowing, you will be alright.


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