A Routine of No Routine
“They” say the key to productivity in art and life is a routine. Ugh, I know, like we don’t have enough rules and should-do’s and time restrictions. Now we have to take our creative freedom and stick it in a box and control it. That is what I thought for the first, oh I don’t know, 10 years of being an artist. (I think that brings me right up to current time)
Now before you roll your eyes and think “this chick doesn’t understand me and my hectic life”, let me tell you about my routine. I DON”T HAVE ONE!
I tried and tried to create a schedule to fit all my fitness goals, my home cleanliness goals, and of course my art and marketing goals into a day or weeks worth of strict scheduling.
I would over schedule, force the schedule, freak out and then give up. It was too much to do, it was too strict and it was too impossible. So I would float around a while, wait for a deadline to pop up and then come up with a schedule to meet the deadline with a heaping side of panic. I would struggle to create things I liked, and really anything at all some days.
I don’t know about you, but my creative brain is like a child. It likes to throw paint, it has temper tantrums when its tired, and it refuses to create unless the mood is right. Here is the thing with creative brains (and kids); they need routine. The creative brain would never says this (neither would a kid) but they depend on consistency to develop and grow. I had to start regularly supporting my creative side to help it grow and become dependable.
What I had learned from all this over scheduling and my general routine of no routine is that I really needed… a routine that works. So I created a "routine of no routine". (you will see it later and see that its totally a routine but it doesn’t feel like it to my creative brain)
I now have a toddler at home and I know I can’t find time for anything for myself unless I schedule it. I also know that things come up, kids get sick, the well water pump stops working and we have no water for a day, you know, the usual stuff. Now what I have created is a routine that is not your regular routine. It is flexible, takes into account that you are human and most importantly (the reason you are on my website) it will help you toward creating and maintaining your creativity.
1. Set a schedule the night before of the basics
Schedule your daily routine of eating, dressing, exercise, work, and your creative time. Take into account anything you know will throw you off, like a work meeting or little one has a cough and adjust your expectations down.
Now, just to be clear I don't actually write down eating, coffee, bathroom breaks as that would overwhelm my brain and I would revolt from too much scheduling. I know I do it, I know around what time and I schedule the fun stuff around what I know I do each day. *remember we are trying to sneak a routine in without our creative brain catching on.
2. Make it attainable.
You have heard this with goal setting. Same thing goes with daily work schedule. If it is overwhelming when you write it down, it will be too much to carry out day to day.
It just has to be things that you can and will do every day.
3. Don’t freak out
If you can’t even manage to stick to showering and eating regular meals because of little ones or a crazy work life, don’t punish yourself and think you need a new schedule or routine. Just deal with that day and put that in the “oh my gosh there is too much going on to schedule creative time” part of your regular routine.
4. Make one simple act of creating a regular part of each day.
Make it super simple. Like drawing in a sketchbook for 10 minutes. Taking artistic self portraits (not duck face) with your cell phone while you put on your makeup. Something that you can do that makes you feel like you have done a creative act.
5. Set one goal per week.
Each day is different, we have family, we have random acts of life (like gremlins breaking water heaters) but we usually have some down time in a week. Usually it is spent in front of the t.v. or computer tooting around. So just set one creative goal a week that you can work on slowly or you can do one day that week. Again, make sure it is attainable and not something like creating a small replica of the empire state building out of blades of grass.
This is my weekly routine: as you can see it is mostly things that happen as matter of need like coffee and eating. I don’t have to force it. This changes if we have a play date or I need to run errands
Wake, coffee, feed my daughter, get dressed
10 – 15 minute Daily flow painting – sometimes this is with her in the morning and sometimes it is during nap
Errands or play
Daughter’s nap and my work time. - work on blog, art, weekly goal or house stuff
Outside play time - walk - or errands
Play and clean
Bath and Bedtime for little one
Work on weekly goal or personal time (which sadly means I’m probably watching t.v.)
The most important thing to take away from this routine is do one simple creative act a day. You don’t have to do any of the other steps if you maintain one action each day. It will give you practice, it will train your brain that you need it to be creative each day, it will give you creative inspiration when you least expect it, and it will lead you to your creative goals.
Our next step in creating a life and routine that supports our creative dreams is ritual. Check out that post next.