A daily creative activity is not something that comes easily to a lot of us. Especially when we have so many obligations and care taking duties. But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, or that it’s just for “those artist people”. Still it can be an amazingly satisfying activity to add to your life. To create a habit of creating, you sure need to be prepared to do some work and put in some effort. It can be hard in the beginning, but when you find your way to do it, it becomes effortless.
So let me show you what worked for me. I mentioned my struggles about establishing a creative practice before. I always thought that if I can’t work on my illustrations and writing day in – day out, then it would make no sense at all to do it. I was always waiting for a “better timing”, when “I had more time/energy/money/magic powder”, you name it… But with days and months passing without an outlet for my creative energy, I grew restless and unhappy. I realised that it had to change, but for a long time, I didn’t know how to make changes. I’ve tried a lot of different methods. I stayed up late, staring at the white paper, not being able to put down anything. Then I set my alarm clock earlier in the morning, but just didn’t feel motivated enough to get myself out of bed. I didn’t know how to set goals, because I wanted to create masterpieces every time I set down to do something. This mindset was just making me shut down and do nothing.
Until I realised that my goal should not be to make something great. My goal should be just to make something, anything really! If I don’t make anything, no one will see my work. It’s non-existing. If I make something shitty, I won’t show it to anyone, so still no one will see my work. But at least I’ll feel more satisfied about doing something. Now if you just shake your head and think “Veronika, I knew that already. Tell me something new.” then you might not need to read on. But if you’ve know this already, but still couldn’t establish a fulfilling creative practice, go ahead and read on.
After this realisation, I set a new goal. It was to show up and do something. And I put the bars pretty low, not to freak myself out. I decided that showing up for 5 minutes every day would be an easy enough goal so that I wouldn’t be paralysed by its burden. But those 5 minutes would start to move me towards a bigger goal. When I set my intention on showing up for 5 minutes each day, it made it easier to put in the work! I started to make babysteps. Now if your schedule allows, you can make the goal a little bigger, 10, 15 minutes. If that works with your life right now, if it’s realistic, then by all means, don’t limit yourself to just 5 minutes! But don’t go overboard. Often when we try to change our lives, we make the first steps too big and impossible to sustain. Keep your first goal small, but really set your intention to do it.
Now you probably think “but what the heck can I do in just 5 minutes?”. Well, loads of stuff, depending on your favourite creative activity. When I’m having a crazy busy day, it might just mean a little doodle on the bottom of my grocery list. If you’re not into drawing, think of the tiniest little thing you can do in your chosen creative activity. For gardeners, it could be pulling up a couple of weeds or watering some plants. For a dancer, it could be a quick improvised choreography to the next song on the radio. For a cook, a new spice blend in your usual Tuesday dinner. Whatever it is, just make sure to do it. For the fellow list enthousiasts, make a list of quick activities for those days when you really can’t fit in more then a couple of minutes. Pick one activity and do it. Nothing is too small or too ridiculous. It’s still better to do a baby step, then do nothing at all! Because after some time, those tiny steps will add up to something bigger.
With time, I’ve built up my 5 minute practice to much more. There are still plenty of busy days with my 2 small children around, so most days I’m doing a short activity. But even these short activities help me to stay in the flow of creating. They broke my creative dry-spells. And most importantly, they gave me a kind of satisfaction that I was missing. I started to feel more happy. I also started to be able to play with my kids more, because I didn’t have that nagging feeling of “I want to do this project and create something”. That restlessness went away. With every day, I felt that my life was going to a direction where I always wanted it to go. One day and one tiny step at the time.
What is your creative story? I’d love to hear it if you’ve tried this practice and how it went. Let me know 🙂