When Are You Most Creative?


Some days you have it and some days you don’t.

It’s a total mystery as to the why either one happens.

As a friend pointed out when we had a discussion about this over the weekend, Steve Martin once said something along the lines of, “Forcing creativity is like trying to force a shit. You just can’t do it. You have to let it flow naturally.” Now, I tried Googling this quote for verification, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere which leads me to think that my friend is full of shit. However, I did find two OTHER delightful quotes from Steven Martin on creativity:

Writer’s block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol.


Despite a lack of natural ability, I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: naivete, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do.”

(I beg to differ Martin’s claim of “a lack of natural ability”- he seems to effortlessly excel at anything he tries; comedy, acting, singing/dancing, writing, music…)

But I’m getting off point here. My point was that you can’t force creativity. The same friend whose credibility I question also mentioned a TED conversation he heard about how instead of particular people being genius, we all have genius. The Greeks and Romans believed that creativity was a divine spirit that would enter one’s body at random. I looked this one up and my friend was right. It was a TED conversation with writer Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and her topic was “nurturing creativity”.

Over the weekend, I thought a lot about the idea that creative mojo is something out of your control. That creativity is a ghost that lurks behind my shoulder, striking through me whenever it likes. Or when my metabolism goes into overdrive and expels the nicest piece of crap you’ve ever seen. It gave me some freedom in not knowing exactly what to blog about come Monday morning. Usually I stress and try to force an idea which is something that is never smart since not only will you be unhappy with the outcome, but your readers will sense your disdain for your piece as well. This theory is countering the long noted blogging tip to “write, write, write”. Well I don’t know about you, but sometimes just forcing myself to “write, write, write!” produces junk. Though I agree the only way to become a better writer is by writing frequently, what’s the point of writing when you ain’t got the inspiration? If my creative juices are watered down for the day, the only thing you’ll find me writing is “Lindsey Buckingham is a sex God” over and over on my empty document page.

Which leads me to another part of the discussion we had with our friend. Relinquishing control of your creativity and giving ownership to a vapid entity is not the smartest move. It’s import to understand yourself well enough to acknowledge when the creative spirit is most likely to hit. For me, it is when I’m supposed to be doing something else like work or school. For my friend it is late in the evening and into the wee hours. He explained that for him, he feels that he doesn’t comes to life until the PM.  I on the other hand am exhausted after an 11 hour work day and the last thing I want to do IS STARE AT ANOTHER FUCKING COMPUTER when I get home. I’m often most productive in the morning when my brain has a clear slate and my body is full of coffee. It also helps me to go number 2.

When do you feel is the best time for inspiration to hit you?


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  • Reply Cameron August 22, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I always get short yet very creative streaks of inspiration late into the night. Normally I am listening to music….those are the best nights!

  • Reply Penny Lane August 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I hate writer's block. I think it is one of the worst feelings.

    But I do think the time I feel most inspired is when I see something inspirational. A picture, a movie, read a book, something that prompts me to think and to want to get out of my chair and do something.

  • Reply IT (aka Ivan Toblog) August 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    When I am doing just about anything but looking for inspiration.

  • Reply whatsername August 22, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    i get inspiration randomly when i'm outside and see something beautiful, when i'm in a particular mood, or when i see a show. movie, or book that gets me thinking. however, i can usually count pretty reliably on a creative burst lat late at nite and into the morning hours.

  • Reply Brooke Farmer August 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    James Altucher has a great article about writing in which he says one of the keys to writing is to take your number two first.

  • Reply Big Mark 243 August 22, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    I liked the quote about '…despite the lack of natural ability…'. Reminds me of something Mark Twain said about 'ignorance and determination'… as long as you have those things your success is sure.

    Take it easy, greasy… you've got a long way to slide..!

  • Reply ISRAEL CARRASCO August 22, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Every time I get "writer's block, I revert to this poem:

    so you want to be a writer?
    by Charles Bukowski

    if it doesn't come bursting out of you
    in spite of everything,
    don't do it.
    unless it comes unasked out of your
    heart and your mind and your mouth
    and your gut,
    don't do it.
    if you have to sit for hours
    staring at your computer screen
    or hunched over your
    searching for words,
    don't do it.
    if you're doing it for money or
    don't do it.
    if you're doing it because you want
    women in your bed,
    don't do it.
    if you have to sit there and
    rewrite it again and again,
    don't do it.
    if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
    don't do it.
    if you're trying to write like somebody
    forget about it.

    if you have to wait for it to roar out of
    then wait patiently.
    if it never does roar out of you,
    do something else.

    if you first have to read it to your wife
    or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
    or your parents or to anybody at all,
    you're not ready.

    don't be like so many writers,
    don't be like so many thousands of
    people who call themselves writers,
    don't be dull and boring and
    pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
    the libraries of the world have
    yawned themselves to
    over your kind.
    don't add to that.
    don't do it.
    unless it comes out of
    your soul like a rocket,
    unless being still would
    drive you to madness or
    suicide or murder,
    don't do it.
    unless the sun inside you is
    burning your gut,
    don't do it.

    when it is truly time,
    and if you have been chosen,
    it will do it by
    itself and it will keep on doing it
    until you die or it dies in you.

    there is no other way.

    and there never was.

  • Reply cj Schlottman August 23, 2011 at 1:17 am


    There is not "best time" for me to be creative. I just happens, like a burp (or a fart).

    I love this post!


  • Reply dancekid August 23, 2011 at 3:02 am


  • Reply Hipstercrite August 23, 2011 at 3:42 am

    @Cameron- Any specific music that helps?

    @Penny- Yeah, I didn't even tough into that but I agree. Sometimes I don't even realize something inspired me until later!

    @IT- That's a good quote.

    @Whatsername- I'm envious. I've always wanted that 3AM creative streak.

    @Brooke- Really? Maybe that's the quote my friend was thinking?

    @Mark- Fearlessness out of ignorance and naivete is the best kind!

    @israel- wow! thank you for posting that. i've never seen it before. really gets you thinking, huh? wow. this one is going to stick with me the rest of the night…

    @CJ- I prefer a fart! 😉

    @Dancekid- 😀

  • Reply Steph August 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I always get great ideas just when I'm falling asleep.
    So the next morning I rush to write them down but I don't always remember them, which sucks.

  • Reply DreTurner August 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    In the shower. Which is annoying to someone like me with almost no memory for anything. Maybe I need a waterproof notepad… Hmm…

  • Reply Jesi Yvonne August 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    12-3 AM

  • Reply cj September 3, 2011 at 1:19 am

    another quote to google:

    "inspiration is for amateurs."

    ditto morning and coffee for me. most often inspiration strikes after plowing through about three or four pages of drivel. it gets better after that. 🙂

  • Reply mike chow February 26, 2013 at 7:37 am

    its always when you find yourself doing what you went supposed to do, will you feel the urge to correct it… i only get inspired when its the opposite of what I’m expected to do. and creativity is defined by the opposite of expected so this was the best thing for me to read cuz thats the same way I’ve always explained… thanks

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