Finding a creative cadence

Me on my mountain bike, clearing my head and coming up with creative ideas

When I’m not writing and curating articles for Digital Mic Drop or at my 9-5, where I’m also a marketer, I like to go mountain biking. I do it both for the exercise and to clear my head and it’s also one of the best ways for me to come up with new ideas, including content ideas.

In mountain biking and cycling in general, there’s a term I like called ‘cadence’. The word cadence is used in many different disciplines, but all related to flow or rhythm.

The more technical definition for cadence in mountain biking, according to Wikipedia, is:

[Cadence (or pedaling rate) is the number of revolutions of the crank per minute; this is the rate at which a cyclist is pedaling/turning the pedals.] 

As a mountain biker, I know instantly when I’ve found my ideal cadence. When I’ve put my bike into the exact right gear for a specific stretch of terrain, in an instant each pedal push gives me maximum output – whether it be for speeding down a trail or climbing a granite rockface.

Finding a creative cadence

In mountain biking, finding the right cadence is fairly easy. It takes a bit of technique and a bit of physique. Other than that, it’s just about pedaling.

But as a marketer, it can sometimes be a bit trickier. How do I get into that ideal cadence, that flow that enables me to squeeze the most out of every marketing opportunity and crank out (bike-pun intended) amazing stuff in each and every one of my content creation sessions? (I have time blocked off for content creation, I highly recommend it.)

Sometimes I have a bazillion things on my plate and lots of high priority tasks to juggle. The stress of delivering on time whilst also maintaining top notch quality can affect the creativity and, as a result, that flood of brilliant content ideas can temporarily turn into a sad dried out riverbed. So what do you do to get those creative juices flowing again?

In my case, my self-awareness is my technique and my experience as a marketer is my physique. Through the years I’ve found ways to keep my creative cadence at a steady level.

How I find my creative flow:   

  • Music: Music is my best friend when it comes to finding flow. These past few months, which were bee-say ones to say the least, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve resorted to Spotify to kick me into gear. Thank you, Bamboleo (yes, the Gypsy Kings classic), Guns ‘N’ Roses ‘Appetite for Destruction’ album, and Pitbull’s ‘Give Me Everything’!
  • Some good ol’ peace and quiet: It sounds so basic, but a distraction-free, quiet environment does wonders to my flow in general. I get so much done when I get to work undisturbed and just plow through my to-do list.
  • Atmosphere: If I feel like my creativity is low or I feel like I keep getting distracted, I shake things up by changing my atmosphere. I work from home or in a café instead of my office, sit outside instead of inside, or surround myself with other creatives to try and tap into their energy.
  • Read things: I read things to get inspired to write. It doesn’t have to be anything related to my industry, or even to marketing. It can be news headlines, song lyrics, memes, amusing conversations on Facebook… you get what I’m saying.
  • Do something else: Pedaling back to my mountain biking here. This is actually one of the best ways for me to come up with new, creative marketing ideas when I’ve hit an ebb. I do something else. I get on my bike and go out in the woods and hit the trails for an hour – and vóila, before I know it, my creativity is back.

How do you find your cadence?

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