Thursday, June 2, 2016

Routines and Rituals: Entering the Creative Space

I hear it a lot from my friends, particularly my female friends, "I just don't have much time anymore to do art." It happens to the best of us, we've made a dividing line between family and our creative endeavors, hoping that at some point the kids will be down for a nap, e-mail notifications will stop, and finally - there will be a peaceful hour where we can sit down and make some shit happen.

And then that hour comes.
And nothing happens. All we accomplish is browsing Pinterest looking for ideas and inspiration only to end up with a new diet plan, ideas about being blonde (true story), and if we're really lucky - we may have even stumbled on a Buzzfeed article we hadn't seen yet.

The human brain can be thought of as a muscle that you have to train in order to get pretty much anything done. This includes mindfulness, getting to sleep on time, and being creative. It may seem counter intuitive, but I've found that putting myself on a Creative Routine actually helps me to get more shit done, while also decreasing stress. And I'm not alone - one of my favorite articles from is about the sleep habits of famous writers, and if you Google 'routines of famous artists' you'll get a bunch of really awesome infographics that will tell you point blank: you need a routine.

How to Develop a Routine to Increase Creativity:
Step 1. Write down the things you want to accomplish
Step 2. Set a time frame to accomplish the overall task, dividing it into timed parts. (If it's a big project like writing your memoir or making your first album, you'll want to go back to Step 1 and break it all down into smaller chunks. The best way I've found to do this is to create a mind map.)
Step 3. Do it.

For example:
Step 1. Write a blog post about routines, mention how to get started and how to stay motivated. Include links to relevant websites.

Step 2. 
Research from 7:15a - 7:30a - collect links
Writing from 7:30a -8a.
Make blog graphics 11- 11:15a
Re-read entry and edit for clarity/completion 11:15a - noon.

Step 3. Follow routine schedule and write the post. Following the schedule above I don't get distracted by Pinterest, Facebook or e-mail because I know that I can check those things as soon as I'm done with this one important task.

When you start your routine on step 1, your brain is already starting to get ready for step 3 which is where all the magic happens. If you think of the 'research' period in the example above as the time where you look for inspiration the whole thing makes sense regardless if you're drawing, painting, writing or making music. And what if you don't find anything that 'inspires' you? Move on to the next thing anyway and just put whatever it is that comes to mind into your work. Write a silly song, poem, or draw a weird monster dude. You'll find that even the smallest things help you to feel accomplished.

 After a period of time, (not 21 days, more like 66) this routine you've developed, added to and refined becomes a habit. The above example is really simple, and it helps to actually get all of your senses in on the game. Make yourself some coffee, give yourself time to check your e-mail, and then get things going. Stick to your plan! Maybe you draw for half an hour a day on your lunch breaks, or give yourself 15 minutes during your kid's nap to get 100 words down on paper - just stick with it, and you'll find that the 'getting into the groove' part happens faster and faster.

This is a topic that's near and dear to my heart. One of my routines I'm working on now is waking up early - I fell off the bandwagon for a couple of weeks but am working towards getting back on it. Part of the problem was I wasn't going to bed early enough and I was drinking coffee way too late at night. I'm hoping to have some semblance of routine by the end of July when I'll start going in depth on this topic for an upcoming Ebook.

Let me know in the comments what is working for you and what isn't!

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