A live confession of vacant creativity

Plan Your Next #79

👋 Good morning from Los Angeles! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is #79 of Plan Your Next. A Sunday newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.


💡 What’s new?

🎨 I’m thrilled to be collaborating with Khe Hy to design a new sales landing page for his course, Supercharge Your Productivity. This page will be built from the design kit Khe created during my own workshop, Approachable Design. We’ll demonstrate the importance of differentiating yourself, and how it can attract more sales. (Crosses fingers)

🚶🏼‍♀️ I’m in the early innings of building out a self-paced version of Approachable Design. I’m sure this takes on a different name, but this will be a lightweight version of my live workshop that gives you the tools to do it on your own time.

🎤 I could use some feedback! I’m thinking about starting a podcast around breaking down design decisions, and how other creators think about their sense of style. Does this seem interesting to you? If so, who should I interview? One day I’ll chat with Casey Neistat and how Tom Sach influenced his own style…


Good morning from Los Angeles!

In this specific moment—I’m creatively vacant. I’m sitting at my makeshift desk on a Saturday morning at 8:43 staring at a white wall, forcing myself to expel the energy required to push the keys down in some coordinated fashion.

These are the moments everyone faces. An emotional dread to make something from nothing. I could give up and finish re-watching early seasons of The Sopranos, or I can make amends with the white wall, determined to pursue this one-sided crush.

But creativity doesn’t magically grow from a black hole. It builds on itself. Block by block. Sentence by sentence.

Looking through my notes, I sift through ideas and lines of thoughts as if I’m late for a train, running to catch up. Each note I stare at seems to give me a blank stare, as if they don’t want to be wasted on this last-minute essay.

I forget about them as quickly as the last two cups of cold brew before 9 am.

The day starts to accelerate, and it’s now 11:41 am. I’m charging our electric car in a ramp lined with other cars feeding off of the same electric fuel. I’m half-sunken into the driver’s seat searching for a creative injection. I let the last few hours slip away, imagining I have more time than I actually do.

Creativity is difficult to measure because we’re unsure how long it will last or when it will occur. And for many creators, we are paid not just to be creative, but to create.

Putting myself literally behind the driver’s seat of a car offers no real connection to the creativity I am searching for, but I’m white-knuckling this path as far as it takes me.

Maria Popova writes, “creativity is combinatorial, that nothing is entirely original, that everything builds on what came before, and that we create by taking existing pieces of inspiration, knowledge, skill, and insight that we gather over the course of our lives and recombining them into incredible new creations.

If we’re not collecting and building along the way, we’re not allowing ourselves to be fully creative. Pieces of creativity lie everywhere around us, we just need to be observant of what’s in our pockets along the way.

It’s now 9:21 pm, and I’ve slogged through this essay during a week that seemed to offer no time whatsoever. It’s a pursuit that’s not always fulfilling, and this shows the darker side of having an off week. But pursuing it—even briefly—only gives us the opportunity to build on it later.

Pete Docter, who directed Pixar’s Inside Out describes the creative pursuit:

"There are days you’re going to feel sad. You’re going to feel angry. You’re going to feel scared. That’s nothing you can choose. But you can make stuff. Make films. Draw. Write. It will make a world of difference.”

This frightening feeling I have of hitting publish on an essay I struggled to write serves as a good reminder that this is a rollercoaster we don’t always have control of.

As I look down at my phone, it’s 10:01 pm, and a tweet is served up by my good friend Megan, which fittingly puts this essay to a close.

This blip of an essay, counts.


⚡️ Two creative hits for next week

✍️Your next Scribble

I love to draw. Even more, I love simple line art. Sneaky Art is a fun newsletter that displays fountain pen art aimed to capture accidental art in the midst of a chaotic life. H/T Lyle McKeany

🏠 Your next trip

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you can sleep in Luke Skywalker’s house from Episode IV. Located in Tunisia, where many of the scenes of the first 6 episodes were shot, this looks legit.


👋 See you next Sunday

If you’ve forgotten who I am, here’s a little bit about me. As always, my calendar is open to chat about your next adventure, crazy idea, or if you’re feeling creatively stuck.

Have a great week,

p.s. If you enjoyed this letter, would you please let me know by tapping on the heart below?