Let’s talk about breaking inertia. A lot of people want to start a creative pursuit, or just be more creative in general. They want to write a story, paint a picture, learn an instrument, etc. The problem, at least most of the time, is fitting these pursuits into our daily lives. They seem to fall by the wayside. Most of us busy people struggle to “find time” for these types of things, whatever the hell that means. Personally, I think that’s kind of bull shit. There’s time. I know, because I have kids, house, dogs, chickens, white-collar career, etc, and I still seem to find the time to do all sorts of things. In fact, check out my blog posts here, here, and here, for more on that.
The Real Prob
I think the real problem is that these types of pursuits are hard. It’s a lot easier after a hard day to put your feet up and watch your facebook feed go by than dedicating time to intellectual and creative endeavors. And your brain knows this. No matter how much you might think you want to do something, your brain fights back. It doesn’t want to budge. It’s kind of like wanting abs, but not eating those cupcakes is still a real bitch.
But listen, that’s totally cool. What it really boils down to is habit. And creating a habit is a lot easier than writing a symphony. And you know what, you don’t write symphonies in a day, you do it many days in a row. So really, you don’t need talent, you don’t need time, you just need consistency.
Most people say it takes about 21 days to create a habit. So let’s make that our guidepost, and get to the business of being creative consistently and developing a little bit of self-motivation.
Be Creative Every Day…for 3 weeks
Here’s the challenge, do something creative every day for 3 weeks. No excuses.
I’m not asking you to do anything detailed or fancy. Just 5 to 10 minutes a day doing something that kick starts that part of your brain that makes shit. Easy, right?
There are only 2 rules:
1.) You have to do one of these, or something like it, every day for 21 days. EVERY DAY!
2.) You can’t care if what you make is good. That part comes in time. Or so says Ira Glass in this video.
Here’s a starter list to get you going:
- Write down 10 new ideas for innovative products or creations. They don’t have to be good. They don’t have to be realistic. In fact, it’s better if they’re none of these things.
- Keep a dream journal. This sounds stupid, sure. But getting a solid tap into your subconscious might prove valuable later on.
- Write morning pages. Julia Cameron outlined these in her book The Artist’s Way. Full disclosure, I’ve never read the book, but the idea is solid. What you do is write 3 pages of long hand notes every morning. This is a free writing exercise. I’ve had friends use this from everything between cheap therapy to a means to develop ideas. I’ve even had people tell me it’s a waste of time. Only one way to find out if it works for you. Related, this site makes it easy to get started if you don’t mind going digital.
- Write the title of a song, story, book, project. Make it good.
- Similarly, if you’re a writer, do a character sketch. This could be a letter from your character. It could a bit of dialogue that’s separate from a larger story.
- Object Writing. Made famous by lyricist and songwriting professor Pat Pattison, object writing is a free writing task that helps you dig deeper into the emotional content of your words. This takes a similar approach to morning pages.
- Scribble down the emotion that a piece of art will convey.
- Process improvement, write down a better way to do something you do. This could be at work. It could be at home. Get weird.
- Take interesting pictures (not just of stuff you’re doing).
- Cook something new that you’ve never eaten before.
- Build something! Out of wood, clay or pipe cleaners.
- Play with your kids. They’re more creative than you are.
- Be curious and PRACTICE…anything.
This list isn’t exclusive. It’s more just to get your juices flowing. You know what you like. You know what you don’t. Get into it. Don’t feel you have to finish. For now, all you have to do is start.
Let’s see where this gets us.