I have a confession to make. I am an artist. I haven’t sat down to paint and create new art in 4 months.
There I said it!
Brené Brown says “Shame cannot survive being spoken.” Today I decided to kill shame and write this blog post.
If you are an artist, you are probably following along with ease because you know that creating everyday is the ideal ritual that will take you to the next level. But, it’s a ‘not-so-easy-surefire’ ritual!
If you randomly landed in this post and your career doesn’t seem to have anything to do with creating or any “artistic endeavors”, please consider watching this world famous Ted Talk by Brené Brown and this video of Marie Forleo interviewing Elizabeth Gilbert.
But if you don’t have time to watch anything right now here is the super short version: We are creative beings by nature and life’s meaning and fulfillment come from our ability to go through the vulnerability inherent in the creative process. In short, we naturally feel more alive when we are creating, innovating, and inventing than when we are consuming. Something unique is trying to come out of all of us and the more we let it be, the more fulfilled we feel in life. When we act upon our callings despite our fears, we can live a creative life.
Now back to getting to that next level…
The best way to find that unique voice from inside (and therefore be more happy) is to keep creating day after day, after day, after day. Whatever you are creating keep doing it until it becomes second nature to you. Here is an inspirational video of Ira Glass speaking about the importance of creating a volume of work especially when we are in doubt or starting our path.
So now that we know why creating everyday is important, I want to share with you a curated list of tips I made from several of our artist and non-artist friends suggestions on the web.
I need to go back to creating daily and even though I know all the ways to do it, I wasn’t doing it. So I asked for help and inspiration from my creative community.
1. Set aside time first thing in the morning (or same time everyday)
It’s challenging to do this when an email is calling you or when you have a challenging deadline to meet that day. My mind keeps trying to convince me that that time is needed somewhere else.
Actions I take to make this tip work: It helps me to set an alarm, and 2 or 3 reminders after the first alarm goes off. When it’s a new habit it could be easy to forget. I turned my email notification (and other distracting notifications too) off on my computer and phone. This helps because I wake up and see a notification free phone screen, making it less tempting to look at messages and emails. I also make sure my computer is shut down from the night before. It will be less tempting to sit in front of the computer if it’s off.
Creatives that recommend this:
— Melissa Iwai, www.melissaiwai.com
– Anne Bollman, www.annewashereandthere.com
– James Wilde, www.jameswildexo.com
I have found that I have a creative “time” in the day, where I instinctually want to draw and I don’t do so well outside of that window….so in that time frame (afternoons) I have a routine to get my mind even more into gear…. Large glass of water, full tummy, supplies out, music on and either the computer or a book for inspiration to get the juices flowing and like others have said I try to draw every day. – Amy Reber, www.amyreber.com
I would say plan ahead, at the beginning of every week make a list of the art you want to create each day of the week and allocate some time to do it. Or otherwise do art at the same time every day e.g. I hand make jewelry and I do it from 7-8pm every night, this means I know not to arrange to do anything else during this time and I get into the routine of doing art daily.
– BeadingButtercup, BeadingButtercup.bigcartel.com
2. Commit to 10 minutes (or short periods of time) a day
Sometimes short periods of time stress me more than knowing I will have all afternoon. That’s because I’m sure I’m going to want to keep going after 10 minutes. And if I keep going after an hour, I start feeling the pressure of other business tasks that need to be done. Funny thing, the short period of time should help me to start!
Actions I take to make this tip work: It helps me to think of this time as a fun time instead of make it work time. Also, remembering that 10 min or 30 min. everyday adds up is what’s important. I compare this with money savings. If I save a dollar everyday it really doesn’t feel exciting. It also doesn’t make you feel like there is a substantial progress in the moment. But if I look in retrospect and think if I had saved a dollar every day for the last 3 years of my life I would have an extra stash of $1095. It’s not about quantity, it is about building the habit and the practice. In that moment it all comes to enjoying the practice of creativity and doing it just because I enjoy it, nothing more.
Creatives that recommend this
Commit to just 10 minutes a day of art-making (not inspiration-finding or stretching a canvas but actually making art). If the creative energy is flowing, you will keep going long after the 10 minutes is up. If it isn’t, you still keep the thread of the ritual alive. The hardest part is often to just start. With just a 10 minute commitment, it will make starting easier, more natural and with less room for excuses. – Nicole Piar, www.ghostkitten.com
With anything that requires some discipline, I think you just have to kind of make it part of your routine. Set aside 20 minutes before a project to create something out of your comfort zone, do a color study etc. For me, I like to have side projects going on that have nothing to do with my job (I create nursery watercolor art). I also find having scrap watercolor paper right next to me (pieces I’ve cut that are too small to sell) encourages me to pick up the brush and try something new, because it’s just scrap paper. So much less pressure.
– Mollie Boone, www.etsy.com/shop/theprintsandthepea
One thing I’ve done to help move my making forward every day is to stop thinking I need a certain number of hours to really get something done. Even if I just have 10 minutes, I can make progress, and every time I make progress I’m getting something closer to done.
– Amy Lamp, oxforddogma.com
3. Set up your creative space
I’m happy with my space. It’s not huge but it works. I can see how this could be challenging for people with a small space. When I was first starting to meditate I used to think I couldn’t meditate regularly because I didn’t have a designated space and an altar. That was funny! My teacher at the time asked if there was a wall and floor space available in my house to sit. I said – Yes! Great that’s your designated space to meditate. I didn’t like that idea much because I envisioned a great space with books, candles, and tons of beautiful pillows hehehe. Obviously I really needed to start meditating right away.
Actions I take to make this tip work: I already have my space set up. If you don’t have room to set up your space, I suggest you start with a small folding table and a box of supplies. Keep them together and do your work on the couch, dining table or any space. Since you can’t really have inspiration on the walls make sure you stay inspired by listening to a creative podcast or audio-books (if appropriate) while you create.
Creatives that recommend this:
– K.E. Gilmore, www.paintingsbykegilmore.com
– Sheri Hart, www.picturetrail.com/thepainterofdreams
Set up your art supplies in a space you can see and have access to every day. That “physical space” IS your art studio (no matter how small). Have everything set up and ready to go. Then create a “time space” of just 10 minutes to start. Treat your daily appointment in your art studio as your sacred time. Have your sketchbook and a few art supplies ready to grab and go, for your portable art studio. Make art your daily lifestyle.
– Corinne Haig, www.corinnehaig.com
Having a wide variety of projects going on at the same time really helps me be inspired to create everyday. I also like to keep a list (or a pile of notes and sketches) that I can pull out and work on without having to spend the time and energy trying to think of an idea. Pinterest is my favorite “go to” for daily inspiration. I like to have some private Pinterest boards that I can throw ideas onto for future projects. I also have to have tools and supplies out and ready, with a dedicated workspace. I am in the process of writing a blog post about my new studio/office setup and that configuration has really aided in making it easy to create for both work and fun. I find that having pretty surroundings fuels me creatively.
– Pamela Vale, www.veggiemuse.com
4. Carry a sketchbook with you at all times
To be honest, I don’t see myself sketching while I’m out unless I’m out by myself and purposely planned that outing for sketching. The only other situation that I see this happening is while I’m waiting at the dentist or waiting somewhere else, which happens very few times throughout the year. If I’m out with my family or friends, I doubt that I will sketch. A sketch book in my purse all day while I’m out is not feasible for me.
Actions I take to make this tip work: I like the recommendation of having an app in my phone that allows me to sketch and jot down ideas. But I like more the idea of planning more sketching outings. This could be very cool if it’s a social event with a couple of sketching friends. It might defeat the purpose of sketching at anytime to plan a specific outing, but, oh well, we are all different and it’s also important to know what works for me.
Creatives that recommend this:
I give myself space to create whatever I want, whenever I want. I always carry around a multimedia sketch pad and my favorite ink filled brush pen to create sketches during transit and waiting periods. I have also included a sketch app (tayasui sketches is the one I use) on my phone so that I can play around and sketch without carrying around too many things. I try not to make anything too “precious” in my mind to take the pressure off and let creativity through.
– Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh, www.dawlinejaneart.com
All ideas begin in the brain and transferring them to the tangible world is a big necessary hurdle. I carry multiple sketchbooks and pens with me so when an idea hits, I can transfer it to paper right away. Sometimes the best ideas are formed on the fly. I find the longer I think about something only in my head, the more complicated it gets when it comes to getting it out of my brain. To combat this, I sketch my ideas early and frequently. Even if they are only half formed ideas or a few quick pen strokes on paper, it is a starting point. I let the idea evolve simultaneously on paper and in my brain until I have a ‘completed’ idea. Even then, the design process doesn’t stop. When it comes to making my items, I improvise based on how my material is or isn’t cooperating, and what might improve the composition. I am always happy with my final product because I designed on paper, in my head, and during the construction process. I make Dreamcatchers.
– Steffe, www.etsy.com/shop/TheDreamerWeaver
5. Give yourself permission to suck
This is one of the hardest ones for me. I’m sure I’m not alone here. To paint or draw anything thinking it is just for fun could be extremely challenging. I definitely have to work on this.
Actions I take to make this tip work: One action step I took here was to get the sketchbook Drawing is Magic by John Hendrix. He says , “Think about your sketchbook like a playground. Have you ever heard kids goofing off on a jungle gym yell out: Hey! you are doing it wrong! Of course not!” If you are hoping your sketchbook turns into a glossy display of only your best drawings you are not carrying a sketchbook you are carrying a portfolio. The book is amazing and so inspiring!! I recommend it 100%. Another action step here is to have a designated mistakes allowed sketchbook. It’s a way to trick our minds into thinking that since we already started in the “mistakes allowed” sketchbook there is no pressure here, just play.
Creatives that recommend this:
For me, it can be hard to let myself create something if I know I can’t sell it or develop it into a product eventually. I feel pressure to make everything great – the biggest thing I would like to get better at is giving myself permission to suck. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day. That time isn’t wasted because if I don’t experiment, I might not ever learn a new skill. And I don’t have to share everything I make.
— Lauren Fairweather, fairweatherfriends.etsy.com
6. Don’t overthink things and learn to keep yourself motivated
Overthinking kills inspiration. I think we’ve all experienced this one time or another. But the real question is how to stop overthinking once we have already embarked on that route? And further more, once we figure that out, what are some practical ideas than can keep us motivated?
Actions I take to make this tip work: I write a list of things, places, words, feelings, pretty much anything I like on a paper. Close my eyes and then I pick one. I start drawing that or something that has to do with that right away. I also refrain from going online looking for inspiration in this instances, just because I tend to get even more stuck. However, when I do have a clear idea of what I’m creating, Pinterest research can be very helpful to find color palettes and other necessary imagery.
Creatives that recommend this:
Put a pen to paper and don’t lift it up until there’s something on that sheet. You never know what will appear and, odds are, it will be something unexpected, especially if it’s first thing in the morning. If you’re experiencing a creative block, take a walk to clear your head. Inspiration strikes when you least expect it! Most importantly, don’t overthink things – dive in and see what happens.
– Jackie Phillips, www.preciousbeast.com
There are also online “motivations” like the Inktober challenge (one ink drawing a day for October). Simple things like that, no matter how long a piece is supposed to take, can really motivate someone to create every single day. There are also apps like Chains that can help you create new habits, and that can be just as easily applied to creative habits as anything else.
– Dana Batho, https://handylittlegadget.ca
I’m not a visual artist, but I’m a composer, and it helps me greatly to set very easy, non-intimidating, baseline goals for myself. Like…”Get my instruments out and set up a session” (with no rule for how long I play or even if I do play), “Do 30 minutes of recording” (always turns into more, but on days where I’m extremely spent, I can still feel good about slugging through that half hour and calling it quits), “Open my editing software” (usually end up listening back and working on the session anyway). That way, I am doing SOMETHING everyday but not feeling too scared to start it.
– Chrysanthe Tan, www.chrysanthetan.com
So what do you think about these tips? Are there any here that could be helpful for you? What would be the action step to take for you? We love to hear about other people’s creative processes, let us know about your processes or action steps in the comments below – we want to keep the conversation going!
Psst – now, go watch one of those videos mentioned at the start of this post – you’ll be glad you did!