Eileen McKenna Art & Design

Watercolor Art | Creative Inspiration to help you be creative on a regular basis


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Back to Daily Creative Habits

Back to daily creative habits. Shells in the sketchbook.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve done minimal drawing and painting. Periods like this seem to be a pattern for me. I think about doing creative work all the time, but I put everything before it – even binge watching shows on Netflix. It’s not creative block. I have tons of ideas. I just can’t seem to make myself pick up the sketchbook or sit down with my paints. And as the days go by it gets harder, and harder.

Experience has shown me that these periods can be avoided if I maintain the habit of drawing daily in my sketchbook. So today as I finally grabbed my sketchbook – I made the commitment to draw in it everyday. Other than making the time, I don’t put pressure on myself to make the results great. I know if I do the work, and play around, good things will come. I already feel happier after drawing these shells that I collected recently.

I first learned about the power of habits when I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, “Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits – to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life.” Back then I had also fallen out of the habit of being creative. I learned from the book that it was harder for me to be creative because I had to make the conscious decision to do it. It was an internal willpower battle every time and was no longer something I did without thinking.

Creative Habits and Gretchen Rubin's book "Better than Before"

Rubin perfectly states it here,
“When we change our habits, we change our lives. We can use decision making to choose the habits we want to form, we can use willpower to get the habit started; then – and this is the best part – we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. We take our hands off the wheel of decision, our foot off the gas of willpower, and rely on the cruise control of habits.”

Read Better than Before.

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Creative Habits

scissors

Early last year, I was struggling to get back into a creative routine. I spent a lot of time thinking I should draw or paint, but for some reason I couldn’t motivate myself to pull out my art supplies and get going. I knew starting was the hardest part, but still I couldn’t do it. By chance I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, “Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits – to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life.” Within a few pages, I had the answer to my problem. I had fallen out of the habit of being creative. It was harder for me to do it, because I had to make the conscious decision to do it. It was an internal willpower battle every time and was no longer a habit – something I did without thinking.

Rubin perfectly states it here,

“When we change our habits, we change our lives. We can use decision making to choose the habits we want to form, we can use willpower to get the habit started; then – and this is the best part – we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. We take our hands off the wheel of decision, our foot off the gas of willpower, and rely on the cruise control of habits.”

This was an “aha” moment for me. I immediately took action, following Rubin’s advice to try to make creativity a habit again. I highly recommend you read this book!

This post contains affiliate links.


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Eight days in the sketchbook

dailysketching
After seven days straight of working in my sketchbook every morning at the same time, this morning I said to myself, “I don’t feel like it. Maybe later.” So, I grabbed my kindle, which opened up to Gretchen Rubin’s book, “Better than Before,” and the words,

“Scheduling makes us far more likely to convert an activity into a habit.”

How could I not put down the kindle and pick up the sketchbook? So today, I’m celebrating and sharing my eighth day in a row of sketching. Here’s to my new creative habit (almost).

Read this post to learn why I’m working hard to cement my creative habits: Creative Habits and Gretchen Rubin’s book


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Creative Habits and Gretchen Rubin’s book

scissors
I’ve been floundering in my creative resolution. I think about drawing and painting a lot more than I actually do it. Most times when I think about it, I can’t seem to take action. When I do sketch or paint, I’m not very inspired, and I don’t feel that hook. I’m not being pulled into the process. The next time around it’s still hard to get started.

I know it’s normal to go through peaks and valleys, but I was starting to wonder what was up. By chance I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, “Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits – to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life.”

Within a few pages, I had the answer to my problem. I had fallen out of the habit of being creative. It was harder for me to do it, because I had to make the conscious decision to do it. It no longer was just something I did without thinking. Rubin perfectly states it here,

“When we change our habits, we change our lives. We can use decision making to choose the habits we want to form, we can use willpower to get the habit started; then – and this is the best part – we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. We take our hands off the wheel of decision, our foot off the gas of willpower, and rely on the cruise control of habits.”

I still have most of the book to read, and I’m eager to do so. But in the meantime – How to get back to my creative habit? When I look back on the beginning of my creative resolution in 2014, I see I quickly developed tools to help me keep my resolution. Things like “dedicating time to painting,” “five minute sketches,” and eventually “my creative weekly checklist.” These tools worked in the past, so I’m adopting them again now.

My NEW Creative Weekly Checklist:

  1. Draw in my sketchbook every morning (while waiting for kids to get ready). Use an everyday object as inspiration, to make the decision of what to draw easier and quicker.
  2. Post twice a week on my blog. The blog is how I hold myself accountable.
  3. Start the day with a painting – every Wednesday. Flip the priority of the day by starting it with creativity, instead of work. When I do this, even when I work later, my mindset for the day is different. I find myself going back to the paints throughout the day.

And something else I want to keep foremost in my mind – Share what I create, don’t create to share.

How do you keep your creative habits?