After spending a magical weekend with my best, most creative friends in Ashland, Oregon, I was challenged to re-read (and actually complete the exercises) in The Artist’s Way. It’s one month later and I’ve read two chapters. While this may sound like a bit of a failure, this magical thing has happened — I found my way into a morning routine that’s set me up to be epically more creative than I’ve ever been in my whole life.
So here’s what my morning looks like:
6:00am Husband wakes me up with his showering, coffee grinding, and general awakeness.
6:30am I turn on the bedside light and lie in bed, groggy and cuddling Puppy. Contrary to every article ever, I check my email first thing in the morning to take the pressure off. Once I know for sure that no one is about to die, I can focus 100% on navel gazing.
7:00am Morning pages.
7:30am Green smoothie! I’ve been drinking these for years and have yet to get sick of them. If I miss a few days, my skin breaks out and I have significantly less energy.
8:00am Coffee and coloring and YouTube. (Get excited for more info on this below.)
8:30am – 12pm Write like a motherfucker.
So here’s what happened: I started writing a book. Like, a book that had 10 words last month and now has 12,000. A story I’ve wanted to tell for the last decade but have never had any idea how I would go about actually doing it.
While my routine changes depending on whether I’m working from home or if my husband walks the dog or if I got enough sleep the night before, focusing on activities I enjoy first thing in the morning has better set me up to dive into my creative work in a way I never imagined doing before.
Habit 1: Morning Pages
I write about anything and everything, from what I did the day before to analyzing a therapy session to doing an exercise from The Artist’s Way. I’ve written about morning pages before using 750words.com, but I’ve switched to analogue and it’s changed my tune. Any excuse to get off my computer.
Habit 2: Inspirational Videos
This is my most recent and indulgent addition. Right now I have a mild (okay, not mild at all) obsession with Elizabeth Gilbert, whose interviews are hilarious and provocative and inspiring and always make me feel like, “Yeah, I’m creative, my work is important. Onwards!”
Habit 3: Coloring Books
While listening to that day’s video, I take my favorite purchase, Secret Garden Coloring Book by Johanna Basford, and my trusty Staedtler markers and I go to town for about half an hour. It’s meditative and I feel like I’m creating something beautiful without working too hard. This, over any other habit, puts me in the zone, after which I tend to write without judgement for about two or three hours. This is the number one reason I now have 12,000 words in Scrivener.
Habit 4: Walks in Nature
While obviously exercise is the magical bullet for any ailment ever, I’ve mostly lived in cities. And seeing that I’m a “highly sensitive person“, too much noise and traffic and smells actually saps my energy instead of feeding it. But since moving to the beautiful Mill Valley, I get to walk through trees and streams and meadows. After an hour of solitude in the sunshine, all is well.
Habit 5: 10 Minute Meditations
Meditation is the bee’s knees. I have ten minutes blocked off in my calendar at 1:15pm every day, but I usually just meditate whenever I start to feel my brain going crazy. If I have the thought, “I don’t have time to meditate, I have too much to do,” that’s the indication that I must immediately stop everything I’m doing and meditate rightthefucknow or else I will get nothing else done for the rest of the day.
I use the app Headspace. The meditations are easy and well-explained – perfect for those of you interested in benefits without chakras. Check out the video below, which perfectly captures the essence of what Headspace is all about.
There are a million other things I’ve tried to help get me in the zone – writing down every idea I have, longer-form meditation, sketching, creative writing exercises, but these are the habits that stuck.
What habits are feeding your creativity lately?