Creative habits, practices and routine
Lately I have been thinking about my creative habits, the little things I do to maintain routine and momentum in my creative lifestyle. This post looks at what creative habits are and provides some suggestions about what to include in your own habits.
Habits can be defined as ‘a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up’. Often we think of habits are negative things such as biting our nails. But sometimes habits can be a positive thing. In fact, we can replace or negative habits with positive habits. I replaced my smoking with morning pages and journaling as well as creating – so I could afford to buy art supplies!
So habits can lead us into our practices defined as ‘the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it’ (for more about practices see: Developing your own creative practice). With habits we stop thinking about the how we can be creative as we use our habits to spring ourselves into our creative practice which can be (daily journaling or daily art or both). And it doesn’t have to be long, five minutes a day is a creative habit regularly is a great for our creativity.
This is because what we do in our habits is setting ourselves up for success. And by success I mean actually creating, as creating is in the doing, no matter our perspective of whether the art or writing ends up good or bad. In fact, of-course we already know that the best way to improve our skills is to practice, practice drawing, practice writing, it’s the only way to get ‘better’ or improve our skills. Furthermore, if you are not inspired the best way to create inspiration is actually just create regardless of whether you are inspired to or not. As its’ like Pablo tells us in his famous quote inspiration has to find us working i.e. in a routine creating. But just because we know all this unfortunately it doesn’t always really help us because it’s can hard to create a routine. Especially hard if you have distractions or don’t feel like being creative. So if this is the case what can we do to support our creativity?
Creative Habit Ideas:
What can we include in our creative habits? There are a few different types of habits that we could try to make up our routine.
Firstly we could use triggers to signal to our brain that it is creative time.
These don’t have to be directly associated with creativity, just a signal to say that you are going to be creating. Brains believe it or not like habitual activities or autopilot, this is why it’s difficult to start a habit or a new way of thinking,but it can also be used to your advantage! For example, I always go for a walk before I sit down to work, as my trigger. This means when I sit down at my desk I am focused on creating rather than my mind being everywhere.
Other ideas you could also consider:
- Putting on our favourite art jumper or use a special mug.
- Have a special drink only for when you start creating (I have a cup of coffee)
- Taking a few deep breaths or five minutes of mindfulness,meditation or yoga stretches (before, during or after).
It doesn’t have to be complicated, even sitting and having a few moments looking out your window or open it up to get some fresh air in may become a trigger.
Secondly we could use some sort of action as a warm up exercise as a habit. This is not about perfection, this is about getting into the creative practice, the doing, getting into the creative flow. Often we try to overthink (or procrastinate on) what we should be creating. So not thinking, just starting taking action as soon as possible can to avoid the procrastination. Some ideas on warm up exercises can be:
- Setting an intention, how you want to feel when you are creating (for example, writing it down or lighting a candle).
- Looking at your art or journal supplies and picking them up, seeing how they feel, noticing the details on them (this is also a mindful exercise about connecting to your present creative time).
- Doodle, scribble or just spread paint over the page (you could even have a practice journal)
- Randomly pick a colour or a supply and start to use it.
- You may want to have a timer on for two, five or fifteen minutes.
An added advantage is that these are great as well for working on forgetting about perfection as you don’t have to worry about the outcome when using these processes.
Thirdly there are environmental factors which may also be helpful as a trigger. Can you journal or create art in the same place, so you know that when you sit down you will be surrounded by your creative materials? This can be as simple as having a pencil, pen and a journal next to your bed, on your table, a box of your favourite supplies by your couch right the way to having a creative space. The main thing is not to have to ‘get your supplies out’ every-time you create. In my experience then you won’t create often if you put them out of the way, as when you have them out. It’s just easier and the supplies can act as little reminders of your commitment.
If you have distractions in your environment, don’t wait until you have a chunk of time when there are no distractions. Unfortunately sometimes the situation isn’t going to be perfect, there may not be a magical solution, so you just have to do it anyway. I would suggest that you just try to find just five minutes to yourself to create. Five minutes a day can add up to nearly two thousand minutes a year! So thats a good amount of practice.
Fourth, plan your creative time not just the time (see developing your own creative practices). A bit of planning is helpful, so you know what create. For example, you can plan to use prompts or an online workshop, which is especially if you don’t know what to do, as you can enjoy following along. You can do ten minutes of a class (one hour class a week). You can create a prompt bag or a supply prompt bag by writing ideas or themes or supplies on strips of paper and put them into a pot or a bag for when you need them. I have themes for what I want to work on such as drawing animals or shading faces. Even if you decide you want to create something else instead, you can save your plans for next time (and you’re still not wasting your valuable creative time trying to think about what to do).
Finally, surround yourself with other creatives to spur you on to create. Join groups and get involved, making that part of your creative habit is great as you feel like you’re supported on the way!
5 Questions to consider in your journal
What do creative habits mean to me?
What do I want to include in my creative habits?
How will I start my creative practice?
What do I need to set up my creative practice, so it works for me?
How can I keep myself accountable to my creative habits?
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