Autumn is here! It is my favorite season. That back-to-school feeling is always uplifting for me–all the potential and hope of a fresh school year before any overdue assignments and late-night cramming.
After the summer fun, I’m in a stock-taking kinda mood. Although we are 3/4 the way through the year, I am thinking about how my New Years resolutions, among other things are coming along.
One of the more personal, internal aspects of my resolutions are the morning rituals, which have varied in their length and elaborateness since January.
Although I still think of myself as a natural night owl, the fact is that stuff gets done when, and only when, I get up early to do it. I do appreciate a nice bit of self-help and I feel like there is plenty of advice out there about how to be more creative, or productive or happy or anything at all. The advice always boils down to one thing. Just do it. Every day. Do it.
And the way that I do it is in the morning. Before anyone else is up there is a brief but lovely hour when my brain seems more able to focus. And so I do one creative thing–a drawing, and one learning thing–10 minutes of a Spanish lesson, and one productive thing–a little bit of writing and planning for the day ahead. And then, for the last couple of months, I take myself off to the gym for a bit of exercise. There is a really good reason for this, which involves my new(ish) status as a freelancer who works from home, but I will write about that later.
The fun and frustrating bit is the drawing. Every morning I open up a book of photography and choose one photograph to work from. I prefer portraits and street photography; it’s always the faces that get me. I then spend some time drawing from the photo.*
After 2 weeks in Seattle visiting my family and not making a single sketch, I have returned to the routine this morning (at 2 am! Thanks jetlag!) and am not surprised to find that the pencil feels clunky in my hand.
The drawing is not good. It is probably better than the first drawings I did, but I have to admit it sharing it doesn’t feel great.
But I guess this is the lesson for me; the creativity isn’t a linear progression. This is at once obvious and obscure. Or maybe it’s obvious from without, but obscured by emotion and/or ego from within.
Creativity is a daily practice. I don’t think it is too ridiculous to say it’s a way of life.
So there’s my pep talk to myself for the day. I would love to hear about your creative kick-starts!!
*This daily exercise was inspired by the wonderful Crystal Moody, who began a daily drawing practice a couple of years ago, chronicling her artistic work on Instagram. I have also found Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit inspirational.