• Tamara Arkatova

How to turn creativity into a habit

I've been asked multiple times about how and why I'm drawing every day. Is muse involved or is there a special technique that helps to create without muse at all. I've been asking this type of question myself. I've asked google "how to stop to procrastinate", or "how to find a lifework", or "how to find motivation".

Why people now address me these questions? Because for the second year in a row I'm showing the surprisingly consistent flow of work on my social media. And now I have enough experience in creating without waiting for an inspiration to come first. The truth is that the answer is pretty simple. If you want the work to be done you'd better do it. And instead of waiting for inspiration you have to admit that it will come with work. But unfortunately, I know that it is easier said than done. You have to train your mind and turn the work you won't be doing from a random act of creativity to some consistent routine. It has to be your habit as well as your morning or evening rituals. You can find plenty of examples of successful routines of that kind by reading "Daily Rituals: How Artists Work" by Mason Curry.

To set the routine you have to stick to it for at least a couple of weeks. Your brain has to get used to it and even create new neurons to help it happen. And in order to stick to something for so long, you have to set yourself a good and entertaining creative task. I personally prefer online challenges like 36 Days of Type or Goodtype Tuesday and for two years try not to miss opportunities to participate in as many of such activities as I can. Why do I recommend it? Because it is public and you'll get attention to your work, there is a deadline and it will help you not to postpone your work, and also there is a prise in the end which will help you to stay motivated and reach the finish line. As an additional bonus, you'll have a good portfolio piece in the end.

Nevertheless, not everybody is ready to be public from the very beginning. I believe that being public for artists and creatives is essential, but if you want to postpone this until better days, then you have to think about a long-term project and then work on it every day. I think it will be better to work on a series of something rather than on a bunch of random pieces. Try to unite your work by format, theme, color or medium at this stage.

When you came up with the project you'll be working on, you should concentrate on certain nuances, that could help you to ease the process and not to give it up after a couple of weeks.

What can be helpful:

1) set a long-term and ambitious goal and then divide it into smaller and achievable steps. It can be a number of followers, a new skill, a new portfolio. The goal should be clear and achievable in the near future.

2) realize how much time do you have a day. If you are free for 24 hours a day it even could be harder to pull yourself together. In this case, you have to set working hours and a particular workspace. Otherwise, your attention will be constantly distracted. If you have a very limited time, let's say 15 minutes a day, you probably think that there is no point to even start something with so little time given. Whereas, in reality, it is way better to have a little bit of time every day rather than an hour once a week. In this case, you just have to consider which medium, format or theme will let you work quicker.

3) if you are really busy and you normally don't have personal time and especially time (and energy) for one more project, you have to trick your mind. In case your creative side project will be a way of relaxation and actual time for yourself, like meditation, for example, your brain will stop to sabotage you from doing something after work rather than watching tv. You need rest just like everybody else, so try to combine your creative activity with your favorite way of relaxation. Love tv shows? Draw while you are watching a new episode. Make is consistent and link to something pleasant: music, food, favorite chair or pajamas, etc.

4) if you are a procrastinator, use your project to procrastinate! I recommend to read "The Art of Procrastination" by John Perry. In short, you have to have a task you don't want to do and make your art instead.

5) if you are a perfectionist, then you have to say yourself that at the moment you are not creating any masterpieces, but you are creating drafts for future masterpieces. So you can produce your masterpieces later when you have more time or skills. Thus you'll be able to accept circumstances and stop worrying about lack of time, lack of experience and also will stop comparing yourself with more productive or experienced people. Later you'll find some of your drafts promising, but some will be not, so you also would save yourself from overdoing stuff which doesn't worth it.

6) prepare tools, working space and ideas in advance. In this case, you'll feel a lift of spirits before work instead of frustration. And it'll be easier just to sit and start knowing that you have to make just a little bit of effort.

7) work before social media. Scrolling Instagram or Behance feed for inspiration works quite the opposite and oftentimes eats up your spare time and energy.

8) if you cannot choose among equally interesting and useful activities try to combine them. Work while listening to books, think while jogging or exercising, sing while cooking.

Of course, this is just my experience. You can try and use all of these, none of these or some of these. But I guarantee that you'll definitely want to create more as soon as you'll see your first results. When you realize that your goal is a bit closer.

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