An artist had better not wait to be inspired before beginning to work, since inspiration typically only comes to artists who are willing to work when not inspired. Tchaikovsky put it this way: “I’m inspired about every fifth day but I only get that fifth day if I show up the other four days.” This is one of the great truths about the creative process, that if you sit on your hands waiting for inspiration you will likely still be sitting there next month or next year.

That being the case, how can you stay motivated on all those days when you aren’t feeling inspired? Over these 5 weeks I’ll present 5 tips. Here’s tip #4.

4. Hold “inspiration” as a reward and not a gift. Mental models matter. If you hold the creative process one way, as something outside of you that you are searching for, waiting for, or aching for, you will let long stretches of time slip away. If you hold the creative process as more like cultivating a garden, where toil and mystery meet, then you will water and weed that garden and some amazing flowers will appear. Hold inspiration as something you earn.

Tip #5 next week!

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