The problem with stopping and starting
Some creative people rely on projects to structure their creative work. Between projects they don’t actively practise creatively, meaning when they want to start again, there’s a mountain of resistance between them and their brilliant new idea.
Resistance is that familiar feeling of avoiding the work; it manifests as a million ways to end up doing something else. There seems to be a link between the amount we want something creatively and the amount of resistance we must negotiate.
Why daily practice?
I first started a first-thing-in-the-morning creative blast after encountering the work of Eric Maisel. He suggests that doing some work straight after you wake up gives you the chance to overcome resistance before you even notice it’s there.
This instant connection to your creativity feeds into the rest of your day, making it easier to get genius ideas in the supermarket, as well as to ‘find time’ for your work.
Sticking to a regular creative time used to be impossible for me. My plans were grand but I’d forget where I’d put them - and then forget they’d ever existed.
But here’s the secret: There is always a first thing in the morning. It doesn’t rely on anything else. I’m still half-asleep so there are no sophisticated counter-arguments. And I’m not trying to ‘produce’ anything: my only aim is to engage creatively.
At first, I was delighted to be writing every day (it always makes me a better person). Then, inevitably, the routine crashed. I set it up again, it petered out, I set it up again, etcetera.
Over time I could see the benefits and that I could actually do this. This became extra evidence I now use to tip myself into choosing to get out of bed and put the kettle on.
To try out first-thing daily practice, you need two things: a sense that it might be useful for you, and willingness to dare believing that it’s possible for you to pull it off.
Some ways to help it succeed:
Only ask yourself to do a minimum of 15 minutes
Set a timer if you need to remind yourself when to stop
Have your space and tools ready
Have different things to do depending on your mood
Have a ritual (eg. something you say, a cuppa, music)
Ask people not to distract you.
A first thing creative blast keeps you intimate with your creativity even when there’s no project or deadline. If creativity helps you feel alive, this is a practice worth experimenting with.