Motivation and Side Projects


One of my favorite reads to date is Creative Calling by Chase Jarvis. I particularly love his thoughts on motivation and creative cross-training. Jarvis is a person who loves to juggle creative projects to avoid creative blocks. According to Jarvis:

[Creative] blocks don’t respond well to finesse. You’ve got to knock them out of the way. Ryan Holiday laughs this off: “Can you imagine having runner’s block?” he said. “Go for a run.”

When my motivation flags, I find it helpful to switch projects. Five is a number that works for me: one big, one medium, and three small ones, all going at the same time. When I run into resistance on one, I can switch to another, and it feels like a huge relief.

Chase Jarvis, Creative Calling

Switching projects sometimes is a huge relief when you hit a wall. You’re keeping your agency and creativity in tip-top shape, but it reduces or removes the stress of “forcing” creativity on your big goal.

And the cross-pollination of ideas can help you have breakthroughs. Let’s not forget that!

It’s worth noting that most creators have multiple projects going, but it’s a different number for each. Some of them don’t even keep track. Personally, I like to have three. One HUGE project at a time, one medium-sized project (or maintaining an old one), and one small project for fun. 

But they’re all related to art or creativity. That’s important — projects that are loosely related help you diversify your thinking while keeping it directed toward a topic of interest.

Now, figure out what your number is — how many projects do you need to keep you interested and engaged in  your work? What projects could you take on that will support your biggest goals?

Food for thought! Happy creating.

Josh Johnson

I'm a husband and a father to three beautiful kiddos. I'm obsessed with philosophy, creativity, learning, and teaching. I want to make the world a more beautiful place by teaching others to embrace creativity.

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