A few years ago I began exploring one of my favourite topics:
the nature of inspiration, creativity and ideas.
And since energy flows where attention goes, the more I delved deeply into this topic, the more I learned – and happily, the more I began to experience more inspiration, creativity and wonderful new ideas.
Lots of ideas.
Dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of new ideas – many of which I thought were interesting or at least original / had potential.
New insights, ahas and flashes of inspiration became a daily, sometimes even hourly occurrence.
I called the source of these ideas My Muse – and we became really good friends.
Which was nice!
Because many of those inspired nudges or gems of creative insight helped me in all aspects of my life – my work, my home life, relationships, health, finances, spiritual practice, they even improved my cooking. (Being a foodie – I loved that result.)
But after a few years of this ready-access to inspiration, a pattern formed that had an uncomfortable side-effect…
I’ve always been a note-taker, so I’m in the habit of jotting down all my ideas before they evaporate or move on or do whatever it is ideas do if they are ignored or neglected.
This habit has meant I have a mountain of notes; both physical papers and notebooks, as well as digital notes and files.
As a writer, this is great!
I have a wealth of prompts and half-formed ideas to work with.
I am never, ever faced with a blank page.
But as someone who loves and craves order, my ever-growing Notes Mountain started to become a source of angst.
Every month, I’d include ‘Notes Org’ on my To Do list – and I would manage to corral some of my flights of fancy into a productive format, but so many still remained as the raw, unedited scribblings that I’d captured in the white-heat of inspiration.
And these multiplying notes kept calling for my attention – so much so that when asked what I’d do if I had all the money in the world, my answer would be:
retreat somewhere beautiful
to sort out my gazillion notes!
Because I know there are some good ideas in there. (My muse has excellent quality control.)
I know there are several books and courses that I could share with the world… if only I could get my notes into some kind of manageable order.
So I recently decided that it was time to get to grips with my Notes Mountain.
I affirmed that I was going to devote a block of time, every day, just to make a start, just to begin to sort and organise and shape and see what I’ve got.
After all, what use is a ever-ready access to inspiration and a wealth of great ideas if we don’t do anything with them?
And so I began…
But it wasn’t long before I was stopped in my tracks by the spirit-sapping prospect of;
• 3966 Evernotes
• 533 mind maps
• 540 Scrivener documents
• 226 Wunderlists
And that was just the digital collection. I had yet to unpack my boxes of notebooks and papers.
This is what happens when you learn to woo your muse!
So, faced with the overwhelming prospect of too many notes to know where to begin, I called for reinforcements.
I eventually remembered that I could call out for inspiration on how to tackle my overload of inspiration!
And magically – it worked.
As it always seems to when you’re on good terms with your muse.
(One of the benefits of having your muse virtually on demand is that you can get help with pretty much anything you need. It’s a nice way to live. 🙂 )
My prayer was answered within a matter of minutes as I ’stumbled across’ a new app called…
Workflowy – an organisational tool to ‘organise your brain’.
My Inner Organiser heaved a sigh of relief as I discovered what Workflowy can do, and how it works.
Its main feature is that it works the way your brain works.
But the feature that soothed my over-inspired heart was this one:
I could finally see how to get all my scraps of notes into ‘project buckets’, and then oversee them in a way that I could shuffle and organise to my heart’s content.
At the same time, my notes would build up in such an ordered way that they would naturally combine into coherent collections that I can manage and turn into finished projects.
Oh, the sweet relief!
I felt like the creative cavalry had arrived.
And so now, armed with my new friend Workflowy, I am on a mission to take all those gems of insights so generously presented to me by my marvellous muse – and turn them into something useful.
I’m going to transform my Notes Mountain into…
Inspiring social media posts.
Maybe even a range of gifts, clothing and stationery for creatives.
All of these are now possible, and I believe, effortlessly inevitable, thanks to the simple genius of Workflowy.
(Thanks also due of course to my lovely muse who helped me find it.)
So, if you too are blessed with an overabundance of creative ideas,
I highly recommend taking a look at Workflowy
to see if it can help you marshall your many musings
into a more productive and happy format.
Who knows what great works could come out of those neglected scribblings!
And since I know that I’m not alone in being inundated with more ideas than I know what to do with, I’ve also developed a few more supportive strategies that I’d love to share.
(Like any new convert, I want to share the sheer joy and soul-soothing relief of getting a mountain of treasured ideas into a manageable and productive order.)
Allow me to introduce;
5 Overwhelm-blasting Tips for the Over-Inspired Creative
Adopt Tidy Habits
Admittedly, this one wasn’t always easy for me, not being naturally tidy.
Like many creatives, the rush of inspiration and the flash-floods of creativity don’t always lend themselves to tidiness and order.
But please benefit from my cautionary tale; without adopting a habit of tidiness in your creations, you may not complete as many, if any, of the finished pieces that you’re capable of.
You may also enter the realm of overwhelm, which is neither productive not fun.
So, the next time you’re tempted to ‘sort it later’ (i.e. never), I hope I can tempt you towards tidy habits with the prospect of a calm, happy life and a body of work to be proud of.
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Tidy Tortoise Time
The creative process can often be likened to a fiery furnace of activity or a torrent of inspired ideas – fast-paced action, a frenzied capturing of genius insights before they escape.
And this lovely flow-state is one of the delights and joys of a creative life. (It’s also good for our health!)
But I’ve learned that alongside the rapture of channelling our inner genius, there’s a place for a slower, more mundane and orderly focus.
A time to calmly, quietly and steadily plough through the results of any creative mania and put things in their place.
And because I have a habit of giving names to things, I like to call this Tidy Tortoise Time.
It may be tempting to neglect this less glamorous aspect of the creative process, but it has charms all of its own.
• the peace of things being in order
• the clarity that comes from knowing what you’ve got to work with
• the confidence-boosting feeling of being on top of everything, in charge and in control
• the satisfaction of seeing your flights of fancy make their steady progress towards that creative Holy Grail: finished work.
So, if these benefits appeal to you – I invite you to play with the idea of introducing some Tidy Tortoise Time into your creative schedule.
Your Inner Organiser will thank you.
• • •
Ask Your Muse
We can ask for inspiration for dealing with our deluge of inspiration!
Your muse – the source of your creative ideas and genius insights – is ever-present, happy to help and full of ideas that can assist you with the actual creative process itself.
Then be on the lookout for any new ideas or resources that ‘mysteriously’ catch your eye or your attention.
And if you’d like to ensure a steady stream of assistance in the future – don’t forget to thank your muse when the helpful blessings appear.
• • •
Upgrade Your Tools
If your current tools, apps, devices, etc aren’t inspiring you to keep on top of your output or devote time to some all-important order – maybe it’s time for some new ones.
For the sake of your creative work – and your peace of mind – schedule some time to explore what new tools are available.
Brilliant, inspiring and innovative resources and solutions are added to the world on a daily basis.
So, have a look around to see if there’s anything that would be an answered prayer for you.
And don’t forget – you can ask your muse to guide you.
Or if she’s resting, you can always ask google…
• • •
Envision Your Dream Remedy
As a creative, you’re well-placed to harness the considerable power of your imagination.
So, ask yourself – what could possibly help?
What tools would be the perfect remedy for you and your mountain of ideas?
And feel free to get creative!
Imagine what kind of resources would make it easy and fun for you to take some of those projects to fruition?
Einstein said that imagination is the preview of life’s coming attractions. He also said that it’s more powerful than knowledge.
So, why not make use of this creative power tool to support you in your creative work?
After all, solutions like Workflowy are born when people say things like,”Imagine a task management app that works like the human brain…”
Envision the kind of solution that would make light work of your version of my Notes Mountain.
Then enjoy the magic of seeing your imagined solution finding its way into your life…
(Don’t you just love how the creative process works?!)
• • •
So, there you have it; my own contribution for the over-inspired creative.
I hope you find it helpful.
And a HUGE thank you to the wonderful team at Workflowy who have brought peace, joy and order to my creative heart.
And, as always, here’s to the Marvellous Muse – as well as the Tidy Tortoise, and all the other wonderful characters who support our creative lives.
Wishing you a creative, inspired and orderly week,
PS If you’d like to discover or strengthen your relationship with your own muse – I share everything I’ve learned about that here.
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