While Diamond likes being under the spell of love while writing a song, he describes the process of songwriting as, “that’s really hard work and it’s self-discipline. The only time you enjoy writing a song is when you finish it.”

My own personal experience, plus seeing the work ethic of my successful colleagues up close, confirms without a doubt that nothing truly significant is accomplished without putting in the time and doing the work. But when you love what you’re doing, this kind of sacrifice “should never feel like work” says Miranda.

3. Never run out of approaches. You can’t talk about creativity without talking about hitting a creative “block.” You know, those times when you’re staring at a blank page and you don’t know what to write.

The cliché way to overcome writer’s block is attributed to William Faulkner: “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes at nine every morning.” Yes, discipline is one way, as Diamond mentioned.

Miranda described another way when he was speaking at a Fast Company Innovation Festival.

I don’t think of it as a block. I think of it as an approach that is not going to get me all the way there. It comes down to never running out of approaches, and that comes down to building tools in your toolbox. Sometimes you have to sneak attack the page. Craft comes in when the idea doesn’t just drop into your lap and you have to draw from a set of tools that you have developed over the years.

Sometimes you just need to completely “Shake It Up” as The Cars sang to get those creative juices flowing again. That’s what Diamond did in 2005, when he teamed with producer Rick Rubin, best known for his work with hip-hop and alternative rock acts.

Diamond’s resulting album, 12 Songs, with its spare arrangements and emphasis on songwriting, brought him back to his early days in the 1960s when he was an up-and-coming songwriter. It worked. The album reached #4 in the Billboard ranking and became Diamond’s highest charting album in 25 years.

Each of us has to figure out what works to get us out of the “block.” One of my tools is movement. If I’m stuck, I get up and start walking.

Another tool is diligent notetaking. I’m constantly leaving myself voice messages on my phone that are automatically transcribed to text. These notes get posted to a massive Word doc or my writing software tool.

Thanks to this notetaking, I usually have a decent idea of what I want to write about before I start typing away. And if I’m still stuck, I have hundreds of pages of reasonably well-organized notes to scroll through for inspiration.

Creativity Is Its Own Reward
Whether 10 people or 10 million people see your work becomes irrelevant. The satisfaction you derive from becoming so enraptured by an idea will be the only pat on the back you need.

For more on the creative process and how you can adapt lessons from the world’s greatest artists to grow your business, read my post here. 

Steve Sanduski, CFP, is the founder of Belay Advisor; the CEO of ROL Advisor, a discovery process technology system; a New York Times bestselling author; host of the Between Now and Success podcast and a financial advisor business coach.

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