Lately, I’ve been spending lots of time thinking and talking about creative habits. Over the past year or so, I’ve transformed my creative process through the power of a flexible daily routine built from habits that support my creative exploration, purpose, and well-being.
Through a process of experimentation, I discovered there were certain activities that shifted my mindset, helped me feel in alignment, and generally built up my confidence. I started to slowly weave them into my every day, and they naturally became habits. I wanted to do them because they made me feel good and I could see they were helping me make progress with the things I care about.
I started calling them my creative habits and gave the term a definition.
Creative habits are activities that support creative exploration, purpose, and well-being.
A LITTLE BACKGROUND
I’m at the end of moving out a long cycle of living in an all-or-nothing mindset with art and work. I would either be mostly in alignment as an artist or slightly out of it at a corporate job.
In between 3 to 14 month contracts as a designer, I would treat myself to art residencies, time at home painting, and art courses. I could feel myself not fully investing in either side, but it seemed okay. I got by.
I accepted this version of me as the all-or-nothing girl.
Then I started to feel out of alignment. I felt uncomfortable. I wanted more and I could see my corporate career was stalling due to lack of commitment. The move to a head role at a design agency — the move I should have wanted, the move that was supposed to signal success — held little interest to me. I had been offered the job a few times, at a few different agencies, and I would always quietly turn it down. I would find a reason — the pay wasn’t good enough, the location wasn’t right, didn’t like the management, blah, blah, blah. But those weren’t reasons. I knew it was really me. I wanted something different.
I realised I had to say goodbye to the all-or-nothing girl.
When I finally dropped the idea of who I was to move into who I wanted to be, I realised a good way to fix things was to start doing what I loved every day, just even a little bit, until it made a difference. And when I say every day, I mean each and every one. Not Monday to Friday, but all of them.
To succeed, I had to find a way to make it achievable, and I had to take care of myself along the way. I don’t like to fight battles I can’t win. So, I started small and built from there.
MAKE YOUR OWN ROUTINE
As I mentioned before, creative habits are activities that support creative exploration, purpose, and well-being.
Through trial and experimentation, I’ve put together a list of creative habits and loosely split them between seven categories — contemplation, mindfulness, movement, recharging, enrichment, getting out, and creating. I’ve tried all of these, and have brought a few of my favourites into my daily routine.
Activities that provide time for reflection and thoughtfulness
- Morning pages
- Gratitude practice
- Keeping an audio diary
Setting a time to be aware and cultivating awareness
- Guided imagining
- Mindful walking
Getting the body active and in motion
- Taking a walk
- Going to the gym
- 7-min workout
Restoring energy by connecting to a power supply
Skill-building and exposure to new things
- Listening to a podcast
- Learning something new
Stepping out into a new environment for inspiration
- The artist’s date
- The inspiration date
- Spending time in nature
- Quality me time
Making something in addition to the core work of the day
- Daily sketchbook
- Keeping a scrapbook
- Recording audio or video
THE BENEFITS & OUTCOME
The habits I choose to do each day make up a routine that varies in duration from 20 minutes to 2.5 hours. I fit these activities around the core work of the day. Sometimes that work is coaching, sometimes it’s creating course material. Other times it's painting and writing.
For me, the benefits have been massive. Having these activities in place provides a reminder that my creativity is valuable. I am reminded each day that I can nurture and take care of myself. In doing this, I support my creative exploration, purpose, and well-being.