This month our mantra is “In a creative practice you must build courageous consistency”. This can be a distressing thought, especially when we spend so much of our time ridding our practices of guilt and shame by eradicating words like must and should from our creative vocabulary. However, in this case, the need to find and harness courageous consistency in our own creative practice is unique to each creative’s own pace, and has a diversity of context that make it suitable for everyone and every practice.
Let’s take the first part: Courageous
Choosing to engage with creativity is a courageous act. Choosing creativity means choosing to be vulnerable, and that is hard. Even when we choose not to be visible as we move through our creative journey doing the work, digging deep to find our creative passions, that is courageous work. Creativity requires you to have the courage to pursue passion, to reflect on who you are and who you want to be, to speak your mind and show the world what you have to say, to show yourself unapologetically, to take up space in a way that frightens many of us.
By linking courage to consistency we validate the boundaries we place around our creative practice, that protect the integrity of our work and help us to feel safe while doing such a brave and vulnerable thing. Being consistent, giving our creativity the same respect and space in our lives as our career or family, allows us to respect our creative pursuits and expect others to do the same.
Consistency as we all know is a difficult thing to manage. However, especially in the context of creativity, consistency can mean many different things, and fit into our practice in the ways we need to show up for it. In this space, creativity can flourish, but only with dedicated time and resources, even if it’s “just a hobby” - I would argue, especially when it’s your heart’s desire. Back yourself first; that is what you are doing when you courageously show up consistently for your creativity.
Myth: Consistency means everyday
This is a false narrative we have been fed for decades. Consistency IS key, but it does not have to mean everyday from six to nine is creative time. It does not mean you fail when you take a day off, or are sick, or are tired, or have other obligations that derail the plan. This method of thinking about consistency is hurting our community. It is not healthy for creatives to try to function in such a defined and strangled way. We are what we are because we naturally have a different frequency on which we function. Being adaptable and versatile when thinking about consistency and creating a practice are essential to the survival of our creative journey.
This is not to say that you cannot or should not create everyday, but it is not the only way to build consistency in a creative practice.
Different Types of Consistency in the Creative Practice
Duration - With no fixed schedule or specific timing of a creative session consistency can still be achieved. In duration we can commit to a fluctuation of schedules by setting a dedicated duration to stick to when we do sit down for a creative session. This works particularly well for those who are fitting in creative time around a day job, family, kids, and other activities that change day to day.
Example: Every time I sit down to create the session will last for 30-60 minutes.
Frequency - For some creatives setting boundaries around frequency of creative sessions helps keep them creating regularly. This does not lock them in to specific days, but rather let’s them set the number of sessions or days they want to achieve in a week and then fluidly work around their schedules to create in abundance where it can fit, but in a way that allows the creative to touch their work as frequently as they need to.
Example: I will create 3 times a week.
Scheduling - Rigid scheduling can work wonders for a creative who feels out of control and has difficulty making their creativity a priority without some kind of structure. Dedicating specific days and potentially, even specific times, to build boundaries around for creative time can be calming. This is a show of dedication. Organizing other events in our lives around this creative structure can be liberating, and signal the importance of our creative time to other members of our family and community circle.
Example: I will create on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 6-9 pm.
Craft - While the insurgency of multidisciplinary artists is on the rise and many creatives enjoy more than one specific creative outlet from time to time it can be incredibly powerful to structure consistency around craft. It may fall under any or all of the above organizational units of consistency, but by calling out one creative outlet as the focal point, we are able to further develop that skill set and improve our proficiency in a particular craft.
Example: I will focus on writing for 30 minutes daily.
By committing to any variation of consistency in our creative practice we stand with courage behind our creativity and declare that what we love, what we do, is important. It is groundbreaking boundary setting. It is not selfish. It is necessary for our creativity to flourish, for us to grow. It takes courage to follow through. That is what consistency means; backing yourself, choosing your creativity, following through on your passion.