I’m doing the A to Z Challenge in April using the theme “What to Pack on Your Creative Journey.” Today, we’ll pack some habits in our metaphorical suitcase and leave others at home (watch out, though, they may sneak into the suitcase when we’re not looking).
What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while. ~Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project, 2009
Habits to leave home:
- Shame. This is one of my default emotions, if I’m not paying attention. Shame can make the whole endeavor of my creative journey feel unworthwhile. I pack determination instead because it gets me through the messy moments.
- Fatigue. A day of walking in museums, or writing for hours, or standing in front of an easel, will make anyone tired. But I’ve also realized that my mind sometimes tells me I’m tired, out of habit, because I haven’t given it much of a vocabulary to tell me more useful things. Now, I ask myself if I need a break, a walk, a glass of water, eye drops, a snack, or a stretch. Once all those things are taken care of, I’m in a better place to assess my energy level.
- Numbing out. When I have the unexamined perception that I’m tired, I find myself doing things that are the opposite of creative – consuming news or social media feeds, playing puzzle games on my phone, or eating chocolate. Other people have their own methods. Sometimes, these activities really are restful, relaxing, and helpful to reset myself to move forward in my day. But they are also a time-suck. Sometimes, they are a way of giving in to a craving to avoid responsibility, even when the responsibility is to myself and my creative journey.
Habits to pack:
- Consistency. If you can do it every day, as Gretchen Rubin, suggests, that’s great. A surprising amount of creative work can be done in as a little as ten minutes a day, if it’s structured well. Imagine how many pretty flower shapes you could explore if you took ten minutes to doodle one on an index card every day. However, there are alternatives to the daily approach. What could you do with two hours every Sunday night devoted to your creative journey?
- Persistence. The magic of consistency shows up over time, when you persistently work ten or thirty minutes a day (60 to 180 hours a year) or four hours every Saturday (200 hours a year).
- Introspection. A daily look at how I’m doing and how my work is going often reveals things that I wouldn’t notice if I didn’t take that time. I want to know if there are feelings that I’ve ignored, ideas that I left sitting on the table, or topics I could explore more deeply.
Which habits inhibit your creativity and which habits enhance it?