Willpower Is A Muscle And Can Be Depleted; Is Creativity The Same?


As you exercise the muscle of your will by making decisions, taking actions and pursuing activities, your self-control “muscle” depletes. One of the world’s foremost researchers in this field, Roy Baumeister (definitely read his superb book Willpower) calls this phenomenon “ego depletion”.  – Robin Sharma

I have been reading and watching a lot of Robin Sharma videos lately.

I have learned that willpower is like a muscle, and it depletes when used too much. If you are spending all of your day making decisions, then that level of will-power that you started the day off is slowly getting depleted. At the end of the day, your willpower is at zero, causing you to give into temptations more easily, like that midnight snack or skipping your workout routine or finishing up the chocolate cake in your fridge.

That’s why Robin Sharma tells us to make routines. This way we don’t have to use up willpower to do the important things in the day.

We are just going through our routine – it is just a normal part of your day, not another decision that your mind has to make.

I have been realizing more and more lately that I think creativity falls into the same bucket.

It isn’t that there is a limited amount of it in us. But that it is possible to deplete yourself and have nothing to give of yourself to your art, whatever it might be.

For example, when I am writing a post after a long, hard day at work, when I do not feel up to it, or I’m feeling uninspired, I write sloppily or not at all. I might sit at the computer for hours and produce nothing.

But somedays I will wake up after a great night’s sleep, and I will be able to write hundreds of words in succession without any issue at all.

The words will flow out of me as if it were silk. Being creative takes a lot of oneself. For me, writing is important. It is one of the only ways I truly express myself creatively.

I put a lot of myself down on paper when I write.

People mock me sometimes saying that my blog is just a live journal of my thoughts, dreams and aspirations. I mock them back, saying:

What else is all writing, but a stream of one’s inner most thoughts, desires, and needs, packed up in pretty foil.

All of this giving up and out of myself, takes a lot of energy and it is extremely depleting.

You might see me typing away on the computer as if merrily chugging along.

But every word I put down on paper, is something of myself that I am giving to the reader as a present. So that they may know me better and know what I am all about.

If I am doing a lot of writing in some other venture, for work perhaps, then I find myself writing very little on my blog. I have given up too much of myself to the other writing pieces, and find myself unable to write with great enthusiasm on my blog. Those days, I know that my writing comes out disjointed, and uninspiring.

I know those are the pieces that will not gain a lot of traction with my readers. They were fall through the cracks, as bad writing is meant to.

Maybe one day scientists will discover that creativity has a gene of its own. That it is something akin to a muscle like willpower. Until that point, I know what I have to do to keep up my own creativity.

Here are some ways I do so:

1. Yoga or any kind of physical movementA walk through the park or the city, people watching, petting a dog, or sitting on a park bench watching the sunlight filter through the trees onto the water. These are all stimulating to the psyche and thus to creativity. Movement of any kind gets the juices flowing.

2. Meditation and Epsom salt baths. I find that getting quiet and still in any capacity helps me connect to myself better. It results in my thoughts being more succinct, and clear. I am not disjointed in my writing. I am able to flow from one paragraph to another better. Both meditation and epsom salt baths help me with that.

3. Cooking – I find cooking to be as creative an endeavour as writing. I love to try out new recipes, cooking up delicious meals for me to enjoy, and feed others in the process. Being creative in one way, helps lead the way for you to be creative in another. Some creative processes might deplete me, like writing for work. Others, like cooking boost me up.

4. Chatting with friends about the bigger questions and meaning of life. Having deep, meaningful conversations with the people I love and getting their insight on what bothers me about the world is how a lot of my blog posts get started. A lot of my blog posts start off with the stories that inspired my meandering thoughts in the first place.

5. Travelling in strange new places with nothing but a backpack and a notebook. I have written enough on how travel stimulates my mind for bigger and better thoughts, all of which I attempt to put down on my virtual blog paper.

These are some of the ways that inspire my writing. Do you have any others that you use to inspire your own creativity? Tell me about them.

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