Friday, January 7, 2011

Develop Habits That Nurture Creativity

Yin-yang symbol on coffeeImage via WikipediaThe ideas of "routine" and "creativity" may seem contradictory, but they are truly the necessary Yin and Yang of artistic balance.

When I wrote my first book in 2007, I had no structure whatsoever in my writing schedule (if there was ever a schedule at all.) I learned very quickly that the only way I could make something from nothing, to weave together an array of ideas and form something as large as a book, was to set up a framework on which to build. That framework was constructed of time - the time I spent working versus the time I spent looking for time to work.

First, to escape the distractions of home, I made "appointments" with myself to go to a local coffee shop and write three nights a week. When I needed to pick up the pace, and working away from home five to seven nights each week just wouldn't work for the family, I began getting up an hour earlier in the mornings and made writing my first task of the day. Believe me, early rising was painful at first, but I managed to see my goal of a finished book as a higher priority than an extra hour of sleep.

In less than a month of working with that schedule, a funny thing happened - the writing just came to me. Because of a routine, creativity wasn't a struggle. I didn't have to squeeze it out, like blood from a stone, the way I did when I would try and write "when I had the time." I had developed a habit. I sat in my chair, flipped to a blank page, and I wrote. Three years and three books later, the same framework delivers every time.

Doing something every day is the simplest way to develop a positive habit that can propel you towards your creative goal. If you're an artist, draw or paint something small each day. If you're a knitter, stitch up a wee something every night after work. A writer? I bet you can guess - write something, even if it's just a paragraph, each day whether you feel like it or not.

I guarantee that in a few short weeks, whatever action you choose will become a painless part of your routine and you will feel great because of it!


  1. I think it has inspired me to do other things, to set goals, to finish projects.. it really is a charged booster and I don't think people "get it" fully until they participate in it.
    Secretly, I did start writing too.. I didn't set a word amount or page amount, but I started the writing. So, besides the trinket a day, I have writing a day, journaling a day, photography a day and setting new goals for myself.
    I'm anxious for the writing to just come naturally.. I truly am.
    Beth, you fill your life with happiness and a sense of accomplishment. That..completely.. rawks!

  2. " fill your life with happiness and a sense of accomplishment."

    Life is only so long - no time to waste!

  3. Oddly enough a lot of the first half of Skull-A-Day was done by me getting up early and doing an hour of work before my work day began! Eventually the project developed in a way so that I could work on it during my work day, but I still like getting up early and doing personal work before client work now!

  4. Doing personal work before doing work for anyone else does a strange thing to your day - it makes you feel like you own it :) That's a nice habit to have.

    I really enjoy getting up early to write now. I don't have to struggle with the worry or guilt of NOT having written anything all day! Ahh, sweet relief...

  5. Thank you for sharing the inner you ... Love the yin/Yang in your coffee.