There are two broad methods to create productive work:
- Muse Driven Creative Productivity
- Fixed Schedule Creative Productivity
Muse Driven Creativity is the popular culture form. It’s the feverish artist, working frantically in their studio at all hours of the day and night when the “muse” hits them. It’s writers block. It’s temperamental productivity. It’s the thought that you have to wait for inspiration to hit before you can start doing the work.
Fixed Schedule Creativity is the realm of the craftsman, not the artist. It’s the individual who just quietly wakes up each and every morning and does the work. There is no need to wait for inspiration since it hits at 7am sharp each and every morning and continues for four hours. While the muse might bless them from time to time the fixed schedule creative doesn’t wait for this blessing, they sit down and quietly do the work.
Inspiration driven creativity is a myth, it’s easy to understand this once you realise just how many thousands of hours go into both mastering a craft and then into producing something. It’s impossible to retain that feverish pace for such an extended period of time, especially consistently over time, day after day. Inspiration is still important, it’s the seed that kicks off the whole creative process but it is not what will drive you to completion.
We fetishise the muse driven creative. They fit our popular culture model as to what an artist or a creative is. That eccentric, yet brilliant, creator who in a single flash of inspiration is able to dash something down that amazes an audience, able to produce in hours what would take other mere mortals days if not weeks. We love this archetype because it tricks us into believing that hard work isn’t as important as it really is.
It’s better to be a fixed schedule creative. Someone who sits down, each and every day, at a set time and attempts to do the work. To overcome Resistance as Steven Pressfield would say. While it’s unsexy to simply sit down and work it’s infinitely more productive. Once you’ve committed a set amount of time to something, to get into the zone, you’re typically more creative anyway.
This is not to discount the value of the muse, when it takes hold you want to make sure you hold onto it and ride it for every ounce of power that it’s got. It’s simply to state that you can produce value without relying entirely upon the muse in order to work. I find that by introducing a definitive schedule but then allowing myself to deviate from it when the muse strikes that I get the best of both worlds. I do the work regardless, but it helps.
If you’ve been waiting for the muse to hit then this is your wake up call to stop waiting. Get out a schedule, organise yourself and start doing the work. It’s the only thing that matters.