Can Deadlines Make Us More Creative?
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.
— Stephen King: On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft

Shoot Every Day, Photo #6: "Flame." Model is Kiara. 

The answer to the question of this blog post lay only in how willing the individual, myself included, is to work.

For as far back as I can remember, my entire life during public education was a years-long string of waiting until the very last minute to finish an assignment, study for a test, or produce a project. Often times, the grade I got when I was procrastinating until the deadline was the same or better than the times when I actually produced the project on time.

Now, I don’t mean to lead you on to think that this blog entry is about procrastinating on your art, creativity, or projects. If I told you that, then both you and I would be in a world of trouble with out clients and communities who believe so strongly in what we do. Instead, what I want to capitalize on today is not procrastination at all, but something much simpler…


I don’t think it’s the fact that I procrastinated on nearly every assignment I was given during my adolescence that allowed me to produce something I was proud of. I believe, instead, it was the presence of a deadline, beyond myself, that pushed me to even create anything.

I often teach students at my workshops about how we, as artists, content creators, and producers need to give ourselves what I call an “architecture for creation.” An architecture for creation is simply a set of self-imposed rules we put beyond ourselves that force us to create art and content in a timely fashion. It’s what I’m doing right now as I write this blog post, create photos every day for the Shoot Every Day project, and develop concept drafts for clients.

For the LONGEST time I would simply sit on a couch watching Netflix, waiting for inspiration to “come to me,” when the BEST thing I could have done was go out, create stuff, fail at creating stuff, learn, and create even better stuff. It wasn’t until my very first 365-photo-every-day project that I truly learned the value of of the Architecture for Creation.

I also did this during a 52-week project. This is one of the images I created in the first couple weeks. 

“The architecture for creation forces us to prioritize our lives around our vision to be world-class content creators.”

Recognizing most content creators need this architecture is the first step to those creator actually making something incredible. It’s why we tend to produce more content for deadline-driven, monetary-focused jobs for clients and why you’ll always make it to your day-job, if you have one, on time. The architecture for creation is simply a way of hacking your productivity to help you focus on achieving your content creation and photography goals so that one day you can eventually quit your day job and work on producing incredible native content yourself.

7-Steps For Developing Your Own Architecture For Creation:

Step 1: List 5 goals you have as an artist, photographer, or content creator.

From greatest to least, write ‘em down. This could be anything, such as “share my vision, which is ‘bla bla bla,’ with the world,” or “grow my social media following,” or “be a better photographer,” or “learn how to control natural light in my pictures,” or “blog every day.”

Step 2: Choose ONE of those goals and make that the focus of your architecture.

Right now mine is to “find my creative footing again.”

Step 3: Choose a pre-determined length of time and frequency at which you will create content.

I recommend 30, 60, or 90 days to start. Anything greater than 21 days (3 weeks) will be beneficial, because that is the length of time over which we develop habits… and right now, we are developing a habit for creative productivity. This gives you a goal to work towards, and a project to finish. It gives you a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. Once you develop the habit of consistency, you can ditch the time frame - but for now, use it. 

Step 4: Choose a type of content you will create; ie a photo, a set of photos, a video, or a blog.

For me, right now, I’m producing a photo and a blog post every day. Choosing what type of content you want to create will give you the focus you need in order to actually develop the content. If you don’t know you’re going to create a masterpiece, how do you expect to ever do so?

Step 5: List all the available free-time you will likely have in the next week.

Just do it. Even if you’re a bit unsure of your free time, this step will help you prioritize your time and will help you find the time to create. I know you have a set of free time you're looking forward to in the next 7 days, so don't BS yourself. Stick to this free time and keep it FREE unless absolutely necessary.

Step 6: Go out and create content on the free days or times you listed in step 5.

At the end of the week, list out the times again for the next week, and continue to do this for as long as you chose to create for in step 3. This step gets you in the habit of being productive enough to continually create, and puts the focus of your day around creating that one piece of content.

Step 7: Post your content online and share it with others!

This step helps you stay accountable to your project. I recommend also sharing about your “architecture for creation” online when you post it, so that others can encourage you if you forget to post your piece of content for the day. I do this all the time, and sometimes it’s absolutely killer for me and so hard to accomplish, and sometimes, I even fail… but knowing there are others out there who want to see me succeed is the most incredible motivating factor.

By putting yourself on a deadline for creating art, you bypass the need for “inspiration” to create photos or art or whatever, and you begin to generate your own inspiration. The growth I saw in myself from 2011-2012, when I shot a photo every single day for a year, was immense and nearly immeasurable. I became an artist, a content creator, and a better photographer by creating within my own “architecture for creation.”

If you’re afraid you can’t handle something like this, then you have already failed. But if you believe you can do this, that you CAN create content every day, that you CAN be who you want to be and take your life where you want it to be, then you WILL achieve your goal.

Wishing you success, and as always, reach out to me at if you ever need encouragement. Now get out, and CREATE!

- David


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I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.