Monday, 11 July 2011

Creative Habits: Routines

Apparently routines produce creative magic. Yay! Changing my routine has proven quite difficult now that I'm back living with my folks. To put it in a nutshell, it's utter hell. I now find myself trying new things, things that conform with how the household works. I have to shift.
My body usually rebels against change and since the move it's been rough. I had a great routine before and now it's been swirled around a bit so that's got me irritable. I am like a baby; a rebellious baby who doesn't want to miss out on anything.

Right, so where do I start? I surely do need a change. I've been stuck but that's part of the process; and yes I'm getting off my ass. I am excited by the concept of a new routine, but somehow skeptical. I get bored so. damn. quickly with routines, especially if I am working in a prison office. I function somewhat well by them.

Dictionary.com's first main definition is: a customary or regular course of procedureI have tried many methods of self-imposed disciplinary action, but I start slowly ignoring its existence because one thing offsets me and everything goes to shit.  My notebooks and index cards have had the brunt of these well thought out "perfect life" routines (very colourfully illustrated), even down to quarter hour blocks of time. Hah! Clearly that does not work for me, else I am really undisciplined.
After so many years, I've learned that being creative is a full-time job with its own daily patterns. That's why writers, for example, like to establish routines for themselves. The most productive ones get started early in the morning, when the world is quiet, the phones aren't ringing, and their minds are rested, alert, and not yet polluted by other people's words. (Twyla Tharp)
This is true for artists as well. I quite like the silence and the freshness of the day. Righto, so that means waking up at ass o'clock if I want to get anything productive done. According to the mundane routine article, in order for it to be effective, my routine must be:
  • Unique - something (or a combination of things) I don't associate with other activities, otherwise the effect will be diluted, i.e. something eccentric.
  • Emotionally intense - the kind I experience when really immersed in creative work, i.e. zoned out.
  • Repetitive - the more times I experience the unique trigger in association with the emotions, the stronger the association becomes, i.e. Pavlov's theory.

That is wonderful to think about, and harder to put into action. For instance, this is a sample of how I might like to function. Perfect Life Routine (I would have this perfect life and all that)


5:00 am: Wake up
5:10 am: Yoga, meditation,shower etc
7:00 am: Brekkie
7:30 am: Email, Daily online checks
8:00 am: Work (be creative!)
10:00 am: Break/stretch
10:15 am Work
12:00 pm: Lunch
12:20 pm: Email, checks, random crap
1:00 pm Nap/free time
3:00 pm Work
5:00 pm Break/Stretch
5:15 pm Chill. Surf, Random crap
7:00 pm Dinner
7:20 pm: Free time
8:15 pm Prep next day's work, planning, extra stuff
9:30 pm Sleep

Strict right? I probably need it. I have also done plans that separate tasks into days. For instance; Sunday for blogging for the week; Monday for painting; Tuesday for sorting stores and so on. I'm still gawking over the routines of artists and other creatives. It is fascinating insight but I also sort of wonder if some folks bothered to have social lives. I'm going to read Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. That should help me along a bit better. Perhaps you should too if you're struggling.


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