"It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me. I assure you, dear friend, no one has given so much care to the study of composition as I."- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
“There are certain things I do if I sit down to write. I have a glass of water or a cup of tea. There’s a certain time I sit down, from 8:00 to 8:30, somewhere within that half hour every morning. I have my vitamin pill and my music, sit in the same seat, and the papers are all arranged in the same places. The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon." - Stephen King
Being an artist requires hard work and dedication. It means hours of honing a craft and flexing lots of creative muscle. What was happening to my creative muscle? Daily life seemed to be extracting more and more of my time and I was feeling the creative loss - even becoming grumpy about it. Then I discovered an amazing book "The Creative Habit" by Twyla Tharp. It made me realize that something had to change. The next day I began to establish a creative ritual. Why not try it out for yourself?
First a bit of science
Circadian rhythms of arousal and mental alertness mean that certain times of day are especially conducive to focused creative work. The effect is amplified when familiar items and surroundings become associative triggers for a better creative state of mind.
Pick your creative ritual
Think of positive habits that are unique to you. A few things to consider:
• What time of day am I most productive? I'm a morning gal. It feels great to begin my day in the studio. In the evening, I respond to emails, blogsurf or fold laundry.
• Soothing or stimulating. Which will better assist creative flow? Going for a 5 mile run before heading to the studio may supercharge you, but not me!
• Is this habit reasonable? Your habit should be simple and not require great expense or lots of gear to complete. Skydiving is thrilling, but it's not a realistic daily activity.
Now you have a preliminary ritual. Dedicate time during your most productive part of the day to focus on creative work. Don't be afraid to sample a ritual or two. If taking a walk around the neighborhood doesn't work, try doodling with a cup of coffee instead. Once you find the creative routine that works for you it will become a mental trigger for your creative zone.
My creative zone enemy... interruptions. While some can't be avoided, others can. During creative time, I close the doors to my studio and turn off my email, IM and cell phone. This keeps me focused without the pesty bleeps, blings and rings.
Creativity still involves spontaneity. Since developing better creative habits, I have more "Aha!" moments than before. My mind isn't cluttered with "stuff" while I am encased in my creative zone so I feel more focused on my artistic goals with a better sense of purpose.
Don't get discouraged
Creative rituals ingrain your creative efforts into a daily routine - no matter how chaotic, stressful, or just plain nutty your day is. Stay focused on your goal of achieving a creative ritual. Before you know it the creative ritual will be an enjoyable and rewarding part of your day!
Creativity is not a gift from the gods bestowed by some divine and mystical spark. It is the product of preparation and effort, and it's within reach of everyone who wants to achieve it. All it takes is the willingness to make creativity a habit, an integral part of your life: In order to be creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative. - Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit
BONUS: Great online course for creative professionals at Wishful Thinking. This site created by Mark McGuinness is filled with interesting articles and links. He is offering "How to Succeed as a Creative Professional" for free!