When you're juggling multiple projects and clients, in addition to the logistics of running your business and the necessary To-Do-List items of daily life, your creative work can get lost in the process.
Without firm deadlines or immediate payoff, long term passion projects and creative growth can get set aside in favor of more pressing work and languish on the back burner, making you feel creatively stifled and unproductive.
Sometimes a bit of external accountability can help re-ignite your creative spark and jumpstart your creative flow. Having a framework for productivity allows you to plan accordingly, and knowing that others are on the journey with you can help keep you moving forward.
Here are a few creative challenges that can help ignite your creative spark and start you on the journey to prolific creation:
The Freedom Journal
John Lee Dumas, host of Entrepreneur on Fire podcast, created this workbook-style journal to help you accomplish your self-defined "number one goal" in 100 days.
Dumas walks you through creating a SMART goal -- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound -- and provides a useful framework for tracking your progress day-by-day.
TO START CREATING: Order "The Freedom Journal."
100 Rejection Letters
As a creative, your work is tied very closely to your personal identity and rejection can hurt deeply. To help you build up a tolerance and become more open to opportunities, Tiffany Han created this guided course to challenge you to receive 100 rejection letters, rewarding your effort and not just your affirmative responses.
TO START CREATING: Sign up during open enrollment for 100 Rejection Letters.
Becoming An Idea Machine
Claudia Altucher created this book as a workbook to help you "strengthen your creative muscle," encouraging you to come up with 10+ distinct ideas each and every day for 180 days.
Each day has its own page in the workbook with a prompt and space to write your answers, encouraging you to track your progress and keep creating.
TO START CREATING: Purchase "Becoming An Idea Machine."
Instagram Photo Challenges
Plenty of accounts put forth designated hashtags, challenging you to create new images that meet the given theme, for a chance to be featured.
TO START CREATING: Follow these accounts to see post announcements for themes and submit your photo by posting with the hashtag.
The "morning pages" exercise is a bit different from the others on this list, as it doesn't have a firm start or end date. Rather, it's a daily habit for creatives that advocates for completing three pages of writing each and every morning to start your day off right.
It must be done right when you wake up -- by hand versus on the computer -- and it should be uncensored free writing where you let your mind wander, continuing no matter how inspired or uninspired you feel. The goal is just to write, no matter what, and get those three pages done.
TO START CREATING: Buy the book, reset your alarm to allow for extra time and start writing tomorrow!
Self Publishing School
Author and coach Chandler Bolt created this online course to guide you through the process of quickly and efficiently writing your book. Bolt says there's a book inside everyone, and he provides a calendar, guides, instructional videos and other resources to help you through the process in three months. The members-only Facebook group creates opportunities for support, encouragement and feedback throughout the process.
TO START CREATING: Sign up for the online Self Publishing School course.
NaNoWriMo/National Novel Writing Month
This annual challenge is done formally and informally, with thousands of writers around the world embarking on a mission to complete an entire novel in just 30 days. Using word-count trackers and other means of shared accountability, writers log their progress throughout the month and end up with a complete novel.
TO START CREATING: Sign up for NaNoWriMo or just state your commitment and book time to complete it.
If the parameters or price tag of these challenges aren't a good fit for your current situation, create your own version; find resources to act as a curriculum, develop a list of prompts for yourself, book time on your calendar to complete the tasks, and find a partner in crime who can embark on the journey with you and hold you accountable.
With a bit of structure, you'll be able to dedicate more time to creating the work you love on a daily basis and feel more productive than ever.