One of the most exciting stages of the creative journey is when you find your light, when you discover the creative expression that is uniquely yours. However, once you find that light, you need to keep feeding it with a regular creative practice.
The fear you may face at this stage is the worry that the realities of daily life may intrude on your creative bliss. You may worry about finding the time for a creative practice and for your hard-won artistic expression, which is why defining a creative practice, scheduling the time, and setting up space for it is so important.
As with your particular art, your creative practice will be specific to you as an individual. How you work, when you work, the atmosphere of your studio and other aspects of your creative practice are yours to define. Begin to think about what your practice will be by considering the following questions:
How do you like to work?
- Do you like to focus on one project at a time or alternate working on multiple projects throughout the day?
- Do you work intuitively or do you plan and then execute?
- Do you prefer to work in long blocks of time or shorter sprints?
When do you like to work?
- When are you your freshest and most creative? Early mornings? Late at night? Between 10 AM and 2 PM?
- Do you like to work a bit every day or for longer spans on alternating days? Or, do you work in a frenzy, not stopping until a piece is complete?
- What are the realities of life that impact when and how you work? Are there other people in your life whose schedules are a factor? Do you have other work that dictates your day?
I work around a school day schedule and when I have other work, I’m often at a desk between 9 AM and 11 AM, which is my most creative time. Few of us have other people to attend to the daily needs of life so that we can focus on our art and we just have to do the best we can. (Don’t forget that many of the famous artists of the past had wives.)
Where do you like to work?
- What kind of studio atmosphere do you prefer? Quiet, spare, and monastic? Loud, colorful, jumbled and full of energy? Something in between?
- Do you like to work alone behind a closed door or in the midst of others?
- Do you prefer quiet, soft background music or a dance party vibe when you create?
- Is your creative process supported by having materials all around you or do you find that overstimulating and need instead to take out supplies as you work on them?
Once you’ve made decisions about your ideal environment and adjusted your expectations based on real life then you can focus on designing your creative process. Will you have a routine that eases you into work or will you walk into your studio and dive right in? Some artists (and an artist is what you are, even if your work isn’t a full-time job or you aren’t exhibiting your work), have a creative process that starts with some meditation or writing. Others may sketch or do other warm-up exercises. For some, the process may involve putting on specific music or arranging supplies in a certain way. Without being too rigid about it, you can design a set of practices that get your creative juices flowing and send the signal to your authentic self that the work time has begun.
My process isn’t set in stone because as a parent, I have to allow for a fair amount of flexibility. But I often begin my day after my kid is off to school and I’ve had a cup of caffeine with some meditation to make the transition from the morning rush. After that, I often do some Creative Play to spur my creativity for the day. Then I roll up my sleeves and get to work creating. I have learned that I get really cranky if I don’t do some sewing every day so the sooner I get to it, the better for everyone. I can generally be productive until lunch time so I save my chores for after that. Your creative practice may be vastly different from mine. How you begin your work, how you work when you get started, where you work and when you work will be as distinct as you are and it’s a practice that is yours to establish.
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These are all great questions to ask. Knowing the answers will help not only with productivity but enjoying the process. Thanks for sharing this. I can’t wait for your book to come out.
Thanks, Cindy! I am probably a long way from the book coming out. I have to find a publisher first, though maybe that publisher will just have to be me! 🙂