Image Credit – Watercolour by Undrey@Depositphotos The Cramped Creative
What is your image of a ‘creative person’?
Is it someone who creates art, who lives outwith the ‘normal’ ? Who spends their days either in a paint spattered garret creating masterpieces, or feverishly writing on their typewriter? These people don’t have routines, they are ‘artists’ and dismiss convention.
Well, if you are someone who wishes they had more creative time in their lives. Whether that is for writing, art, pottery, baking, whatever your creative thing is, you might be surprised when you see just how organised these creative folk actually are. It may seem that creative people don’t need a routine because they are waiting on the muse coming to them, and surely that elusive muse wouldn’t turn up to order? Don’t they have to be all free flowing and artsy about it? Surely, I mean, this must be true, surely any kind of routine must hinder creativity?
A quick look through some famous people’s diaries would soon show you otherwise e.g time of getting up and going to bed, specific food, drink, number of cigarettes smoked before entering their study, a run or a swim before starting. They can be a fascinating insight into the world of creatives, and their routines. Check out this book about them – Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
I am not an ‘artist’, in that I don’t create art. I like to doodle and draw, play around with it, and I enjoyed it at school but it was never my thing, so I have never set foot in an art school. I always assumed they were filled with highly creative people floating about creating their art and all sorts of amazing things. Now that I know some people that went to art school I have learned that the reality is a bit different. Of course it is all about creating, but it is also about learning to work at your subject. There is a discipline to it, they have deadline just like every other student in the world, they have to show their work and they were also taught about treating it as a business. I had a chat with one of them once and she said the main thing she got out of her course was not the degree in art, but it was the mindset that if this was to be her job, her source of income, then she needed to be productive, i.e. finish pieces, and also show people her work, no room to be shy, and also get used to charging for it, and know her own worth.
I think these are great things to know, whether we are wanting to be professional or not, whether we bake cakes or write books. Ultimately we need to Share Our Work ( Austin Kleon wrote a fun and useful little book on this very thing), and to do that we need to finish, and to do THAT, we need to have discipline and some sort of structure ESPECIALLY if we are fitting this in around our other commitments.
So here’s a thought for you – having a routine actually HELPS creativity.
If we have a set time and place for it, say 8-9 every morning, we can clear ourselves of distractions, and focus in that period.
We can put it in the diary, we can make it REAL, just like we would if we were going to a meeting or a gym class.
Why is our creativity any different, any less important?
If we say ‘Oh, I’ll do that when I get a chance’ it’ll never happen, because there will always be something else to claim our time and interest – a program we missed on tv last night; Facebook; a game on our phone that is designed to turn us into a drooling addict so we will play more and eventually pay to get past the baddie that gets us every time (*coughs*, ahem, not that I have any experience of that) and of course, the demands from work and family.
If instead we have an allotted time and habit then guess who knows when to show up – the muse! We can call her to us with the routine, we might play certain music, or do a few minutes of yoga or meditation beforehand, or go a run, jump around on a rebounder, whatever gets you in the mood. As long as you do the same thing every time it doesn’t matter, habit brings ease of flow.
For some people it might just take wearing the the same clothes and having the same breakfast every morning. If you are there most days at the same time, doing the same things, your mind can flick into creative mode, the muse can show up on time and you find yourself doing it with almost no thought.
To start you need to decide on a time when it would be easier for you to do this. You may have a preferred time already. Put it in your diary or calendar. Mark it in. Just a few minutes to start with, no need to commit hours. Think about what you need to have in place for it to happen easily. If you are a writer, can you have your computer come on at a certain time? I have a Mac and I can have it come on and be waiting for me in the morning. If you write or draw on a pad, make sure you have it laid out, pencils and pens ready to go. If you need a coffee or a certain breakfast, can you lay things out so they are easy to make? Be prepared, the less you have to think about the easier it is to fall into the routine. Also, plan what you are going to do. There is no point sitting down, all set and have no idea what you are working on. If you are starting fresh, spend a bit of time before your first day coming up with topics, you can use prompts to get you started, but have some in mind so on that first day you can sit down and know that you are going to write/draw such and such, then you do it, and you stop.
And that’s it.
Now the hard bit – REPEAT!
Repeat, repeat, repeat. Daily until it becomes a ‘must do’.
And that really is the hardest bit because things will get in the way and when they do, you will be tempted to give up as you have in the past.
But not this time!
No, this time you say ‘Oh well I missed a day or two, I need to get back to it.’
And start the process again,PLAN, PREPARE and DO.
This is how creatives work, they keep going back to it even if they have missed days or weeks/months, they go back to the start and begin again.
And soon, it is just their life, their day, their new normal routine.