You Need a Habit
After all, that is what everyone tells you to have – a regular creative habit. There are entire books written about the psychology of habits, how to develop them and how to stick to them. Believe me, I have read, and tried to follow several. Some say it takes 21 days, other 28, and others at least 30 days to from a good habit. Like most people I seem to be able to stick to something for a bit, then life will get in the way, and getting BACK to the habit just seems even harder than it was to start in the first place. Perhaps the knowledge of how easily I was able to fall off the track makes the little inner voice’s whisper of ‘see, knew you couldn’t stick at it’ that little bit louder, just that bit more real.
I mean what is the point if a long weekend break or a bout of flu can totally derail a habit carefully built up over several weeks?
100 Day Challenge
So, when I signed up for the ‘100 Day Challenge’ as a way to get myself using Instagram, I wasn’t entirely convinced I would do it every day, I had already decided that most days would be fine. I mean no-one cared anyway, it was just a bit of fun and a way for me to use Instagram and see whether i liked it or not.
Now, 100 days is a long time, a lot can happen, good things and bad. Things that have the potential to change lives, let alone derail habits. The unknown lies ahead, but you can’t worry about that, so I happily started off, day 1. Here we go.
I had chosen music as my theme, my hashtag was ‘100daysofmusic’, and the idea was that I was going to rediscover old favourites, and find new tunes to love, based on the day, my mood, world events etc. I had planned to do some drawing of album covers but that takes me too long, so I ended up making images in apps like Canva and also just taking photos. I discovered that I really like faffing in
Canva, seeking out images and playing with lettering. I also loved browsing Spotify or flipping through my vinyl or CD collections. I LOVED finding the music and trying to find suitable images, pondering which font to use, how to make it ‘pop’ more etc. I also discovered that I could, if given the chance, spend most of a morning preparing one image. People started to like my images, comment and follow me on Instagram. I was having fun.
And then, life – a family bereavement, and then my dog died. The kind of stuff that most definitely changed my life, and certainly would be a reason to just not bother with silly image nonsense. But, for some reason, it didn’t. I kept doing the images. When my lovely dog died, I was able to share my grief through the images on Instagram. It actually helped a little bit to do that, to share the emotions of these events without actually saying anything. And then, well, it became impossible to give up, because if I could keep doing it during the immediate aftermath of those events, then feeling a bit bleugh and ‘can’t be bothered’ around the midway point wasn’t going to stop me. So I did it, I finished the 100 days, I didn’t miss a single post. Some of them were a bit half-hearted, and some were slightly loose on the ‘music’ but a post happened every day.
Why Do Some Habits Stick?
I was speaking to someone about this challenge and how I had done it every day. We were agreeing that it was funny how a challenge like that gets done and yet if I set myself a goal to write every day it will not happen. I mentioned other things I have stuck to – NaNoWriMo, 750words write for a month and a video challenge that was also for a month. Why was I able to stick to those?
I realised that they all had a few things in common –
- They were all short – 30-100 days. Or not so much short, as time limited. I wasn’t saying I’ll do this every day for evermore.
- They were all relatively easy to do, they didn’t need to take hours unless I let them (which i did sometimes)
- No-one cared. I think this was the crux. Although I was sharing something with others, none of it mattered. It was a ‘challenge’ which I did off my own bat, and for fun, or to see if I could.It didn’t matter to anyone else whether I did it.
So maybe that is the key to starting, and sticking to a habit. Yes, there is a time element, 1 week wasn’t enough and 21-28 days probably is the key stage to get to for it to feel like a habit. But, for me, having a time limit was also important. So, if you are wanting to start a habit, instead of committing to it every day (and therefore subconsciously saying ‘for ever’) – say I will do this every day for a week, or a month or whatever fits for you. 100 days was long, but it was still time limited, and I did break it up into weeks in my head. Keep it simple and don’t make it into more than it is. AND, if you do miss, try not to miss more than 2 days in a row because that way you are never too far off the track, and can jump back on.
As for my Instagram posts, well, I am now in the mindset where I do think about it every day and I post regularly. Not every day, and not just about music but creative stuff in general. It had become something I can just do when I want to but that I also miss when I don’t.
And that I think is a habit. Cue happy dancing!
If you want to check out my Instagram follow me at – The Cramped Creative