Consistency is Key - Forming a Creative Habit and Loving it
Jumping off of last week’s discussion about waiting for the muse, searching for inspiration and breaking down those myths, we need a strategy to combat the loss of those narratives, and that word we are all searching for is consistency.
Creativity is unpredictable and strange and wonderful, but it also needs to be constant in your life for it to flourish. It is a constant, it is always there, but do we always give it the time and attention and dedication it needs to thrive under our creative hands?
That is what we are looking at today.
The idea of consistency is to build a habit, build a practice, build a life that is sustainable and fulfilling. Consistency in creativity is counter to the narrative of waiting for the muse, being struck by inspiration, but it is far more manageable and joyful to have a creative touch stone, and far less frustrating when we realize we are in the driver’s seat and not the elusive muse.
What are your Current Patterns?
First we need to recognize what our creative patterns currently are. Do you regularly sit down with your creativity and let it flow through you? Do you sporadically create in a frenzie between periods of dormant inactivity? Is there a schedule you stick to, cramming in the creativity around life, or giving it the space to stretch and be an entity unto itself, a priority on par with all the rest?
Our patterns dictate our lives; they are the habits we identify as being part of ourselves. When these patterns of creativity are sparse or inconsistent they drain our energy resources, often leaving us feeling a sense of betrayal or inadequacy when we fail to show up for our creativity.
Recognizing our current patterns of creativity can help us establish a baseline and create a goal for where we want to go. Essentially, finding the YOU ARE HERE dot on the roadmap of your creative life can help us plot our next move and see where we want to go.
How to Get There
Once we know what our patterns are, we can look ahead to what we want them to be. The question is how do we get there?
If our patterns are sparse and inconsistent we want to move into a more consistent form of creative practice. This doesn’t have to mean a daily practice, though I highly encourage a daily touchstone or reflection to stay connected to your creativity as often as possible. Consistency is all about longevity. To do this we need to fit our creativity into our lifestyle to serve us and make our lifestyle act as a support to our creativity.
Let’s break this down:
Fitting creativity into your lifestyle is the first side of the behaviour change coin. To do this we need to look at how we live our day to day lives - our work schedules, family commitments, commutes and other activities for the structure of our lives. If we are able to prioritize all of these demands on our time - with good reason - we need to allow creativity to take its place among them and structure it into our lives. It may be a daily commitment in time increments or specific days during the week allocated to the creative practice. Finding the space in your day for creativity can be challenging at first, but creating boundaries around your creative practice, choosing to make your creativity a priority and creating a reward system for sticking to your creative schedule are all ways you can start forming a creative habit that will stick. Working with a creative coach or people who have training in behaviour change theory can help you build healthy sustainable practices around your creativity - an avenue I hope to open for you wonderful creatives.
Building a lifestyle that supports your creativity is the flip side of the coin. This can take some serious examination and reflection, often requiring reshuffling of our schedules to accommodate the new activity. Boundaries are key to cultivating consistency. If we create a sacredness around our art, a sphere of protection layered by time frames, schedules and spaces, we are able to engage with our creativity in a peaceful place. Our mindset is also crucial at this point. To change our lifestyle in any way, such as a nutrition changes or an exercise routine, we need to change the way we think about these aspects of our lives and what role we want them to play. Creativity is no different in this scenario. Beginning to make this change includes talking about our creative desires with trusted members of our circle, creating rituals around our creativity such as time of day, fixing a snack for a creative session or choosing a specific space in which to create away from fear and guilt.
These two steps are critical to creating a consistent habit that you love. Giving yourself the freedom to create within your regular realm of existence is experiencing magic in the everyday.
What do you need to form a consistent habit?
Dedication - this is a key piece to forming a habit of consistency. It is also the mindset piece. If you are dedicated to your creative journey and can give yourself space to trust the process you can prove a pattern of showing up for your creativity. This dedication mindset leads to the action of showing up for your art which in turn, rewrites the betrayals of broken trust from past inconsistency.
Support - Whether we want to admit it or not we all need a little support at times. When we are changing our lives we need people around us who will help us break the mould and make a life change that will add to our quality of life. There will always be people, perhaps even those closest to you, who will not understand your creative ambition or be committed to misunderstanding your drive, but whether support is found in our family circle, from friends or a creative community out in the world, we need to have people surrounding us whom we can place our trust in and ask for help when we need someone to walk with us on this journey.
Grace - forming a habit is not an easy task. We need to be gentle with ourselves and understand that it will take patience and time to develop a sustainable habit, potentially with roadblocks, setbacks and wrong turns. Along the way you will learn what does not work far before you figure out what does.
Delight - You have to love your creativity in order to care about consistency. You need to want to play and explore your creativity; to revel in the routine of consistency and make delight a part of your everyday reality. Loving the creative life is difficult, it’s hard and full of challenges, but it is incredibly rewarding in the growth you can experience by embracing all the facets of yourself.
Accountability - accountability is akin to support, but a very specific avenue of support. There are professional accountability coaches, you can find accountability partners in your creative communities or create an external rewards system - marking off the calendar or a gold star system - to keep yourself on track and in the groove.
Consistency is the base of habit formation, it is the result of hardwork and dedication. It is also where you meet the magic. If you show up, bum in chair, do the thing, you will open yourself to the opportunity of creativity. Consistently proving to yourself that you can create, that you are a creative, can heal old patterns, bring new joy and validate your dreams of doing what you love.