A few days ago, I had my first post published on The Pastry Box, a website that shares one thought each and every single day from a diverse group of people working in the creative and web industries. My submission was about perfectionism, inspired by the number of tries it took me to get to the perfect post. As a reader, you got to experience the fruits of those “failures” in the form of last week’s blog posts. My post about not getting too attached to ideas came after, and I think it was a decent culmination of what I had learned.
One of the my favorite points that I shared in that post about perfectionism was the following:
Cultivate a creative routine. I try to write daily in my journal. If I don’t have time, I only write a few sentences instead of a few pages. It still counts. Make creative acts part of your daily routine, no matter how small.
Daily journal writing has been a critical part of my creative journey. I’ve written in journals on and off since I was a child. I have many journals that were never finished and even more that were written in from cover to cover. Some have lines, some have squares, and some are blank sketchbooks that are used for sentences instead of doodles.
Last summer, with a group of 9 other creative women, I read The Artist’s Way, and committed to spending 12 weeks waking up every day and writing 3 pages of stream of consciousness thoughts (aka Morning Pages). By doing this with a group, I had the motivation to keep going, and the support of a small community of peers to share in the experience. It was a good way to revive a lapsed writing habit.
I should share that I didn’t go the full 12 weeks, I stopped about halfway through. I stayed in the group and admitted that I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t the only one. But there were plenty of women that kept pushing and were having massive creative breakthroughs. For some it was beyond creative, it was life-changing.
I had to stop because the pages were making me angry, and I didn’t want to face what I was writing, or where I was and what I was doing. So I gave up. Which, if you know me at all, you will know that I do that a lot. But… again, if you know me at all, you also know, it is part of my creative process. Yes, that is a breakthrough for me.
I picked up that journal again months later, and returned it to its place as a daily ritual. I made some other adjustments to my creative process along the way. I know that I need to get up and move my body almost every day. So writing in my journal has become something I do first thing in the morning after I work out. But the ritual doesn’t necessarily start there either.
I’m currently reading The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. This is a book that is turning my creative world upside down and each day I absorb more is a complete thrill. Twyla talks about her own daily creative ritual. She says it starts the moment she gets into a cab to go to the gym at 5:30 in the morning. You’d think that as a dancer and a choreographer, it would begin the moment she entered the studio. That’s how she begins her book, in a white, empty studio — her version of a blank canvas. But she clarifies, it is that act of getting in the cab to go to the gym, where she warms her body, a necessity for her to approach her own creative acts.
For me, the first step in my creative process is putting my running clothes out on the bathroom counter before I go to sleep at night. When I get up in the morning, they’re ready and waiting for me. I get dressed and go for a run outside and get to experience the following: fresh air, sunlight, clouds, wind, smells, sounds, and best of all, the feeling of a moving meditation.
In the last week, I’ve started listening to audiobooks during my run, which may seem trivial, but it is a way to take one of my favorite activities and imbue it with even more creative inspiration. It has been exactly one week, and I am not sure if you noticed, but I’ve been writing like crazy.
Last year I read Thrive by Brendan Brazier, an inspiring vegan athlete, and he talked about how his best writing happened after a good run. I believe him.
Now when I write in my journal, it’s after I’ve gotten up, out, and moved my body. It goes hand in hand with my chocolate, raspberry, and kale protein smoothie. Sometimes there’s music, sometimes, there isn’t. I use a specific kind of pen. Sometimes I write a lot, and sometimes not much at all.
Some days, like today, I am so excited to write that I basically outline my larger thought that I choose to share with you via this blog.
It’s always different, and always evolving, as a creative process should.
But it starts with a daily ritual.