We work in an industry where creative energy is vital to our everyday productivity (and dare I say, existence?).

Some people (@HannahAcosta) have a seemingly never-ending propensity for pulling beautiful & innovative ideas out of a Mary Poppins-esque hat. And then there are the rest of us. The “normal thinkers” who might be brilliant, but who need to mull over an idea before it’s fully formed…

I enjoy writing. In college, my favorite classes were the creative writing workshops where we’d exchange stories, plot ideas, criticism, and the much-needed fellowship of a writing cohort. Whenever creative energy would run dry, we’d pull from one another’s fertile minds. One idea would spur another, and the creativity would swirl into action.

We’d scramble to turn in a manuscript by the end of the semester or project due date, cringe as we hit “submit,”  and then DONE! Well not exactly. We’d still keep editing. Because that’s what writers do. Edit. Rewrite. Edit. And maybe one day in the future, a publication-worthy, literary masterpiece will arise. Perhaps.

But, you know, my one complaint in those classes was always, “You can’t put a deadline on creativity!

I’ve had a few years to reflect. And I was wrong.

Why the change of heart? Because while I sit here writing this article, I still have yet to publish any of the books I mapped out 6 years ago. Likely reason: there’s a deadline on this article. The books? Not so much.

I now know that, although your creative inspiration may run thin at times, you most certainly can (and should) put creative projects on a deadline.

For the creative writer, that deadline might seem barbaric or uninspiring. Creative genius can’t be rushed, right?

In a dream world where we sit on a beachfront balcony, leisurely writing with an unending cup of coffee, maybe, just maybe, you might get away with that “no deadline” mentality. For a while.

But for many of us, creative energy is required every day, without fail, and with a deadline. Because real life (and real RESULTS) come with a deadline. Which means that you can’t always sit around waiting for inspiration to hit. I know for a fact that my clients wouldn’t be all too thrilled if I never finished writing their next email or Facebook strategy simply because I “needed time for my creativity to spark.”

In the “real world,” creative people desperately need deadlines. If there isn’t a clear one enforced, they sure as heck better make one up.

So how does this apply to all of you business owners, entrepreneurs, discouraged dreamers? Don’t stop when you feel uninspired or burnt out.

“But I’m in a slump—” Yep, I get that.

And here are some tips for helping you cure and ultimately prevent creative energy wipeout:

Tip #1: Take a second, right now, and breath for like 5 seconds. Okay—feel better?

Tip #2: Identify how & where you mentally decompress. Make time for it. This could be journaling before bed or going for a walk over lunch.

Tip #3: Incorporate a rhythm of learning into your weekly routine. Keep your mind growing and learning. It’s key in fueling the passion behind your business and industry.

P.S. – Adding a learning goal into your work schedule can be a great mid-week mental break. Read a book or take an online class—just pause your email inbox for a bit! At Ugly Mug Marketing, we’re constantly fighting for a rhythm of growth and learning. Not only does this stimulate your mind with new ideas, it ultimately benefits your company as well.

Tip #4: Take your holiday & PTO days! Okay, so look through your days off. Go ahead and block off your next vacation, whether it’s an extended weekend away or a staycation. Spacing out your time off throughout the year will give you “recovery” days, and you’ll return to work energized and ready to roll. [For me, I’m a beach girl. Throw me in the sun near the waves, and it’s like, voila, a whole new Gina! Realistically, beaches don’t happen in Louisiana… but… we make do with the alligator-infested swamps.]

Tip #5: Establish a cohort or community that can push you to find creative solutions or consider new ideas. This might be one mentor or several innovative individuals who you meet with bi-weekly or monthly. Schedule the time so it happens!

Tip #6: Set achievable goals with deadlines. Sometimes this means you need to suppress your perfectionist tendencies, stop-overthinking, and just go for it.

You can do it. Keep at it!