Starting a creative practice

Hi all creatives!

If you are like me, you long to be creative every day.  Nothing feels better than time with your art supplies or playing with the lives of the characters in your stories. Or maybe your favorite creative time is working on lines of elegant code.  Whichever is your favorite mode of creativity, you know you need time to play with your new ideas, and hopefully along the way you will access that elusive state of flow.  That old problem of time seems to pop up here and keep you from doing what you love.

What is the solution? 


A commitment to your art and your creativity and yourself.  You need a decision and then you must take action quickly.  When you commit and truly believe it’s something worth doing, your brain will take notice and find a way to make it happen.  Know what you are committing to, know the value it can have for you.  It will no long be a choice, neither do you need to ask yourself if you feel like doing something creative.  You just do because you have decided.

What is meant with the word practice?

What difference does a word make?  Well, it can be huge.  Let’s start by looking at the definition for the word “practice”:

The application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it.

In other words, practice is an activity, it’s not something you are or are trying to be.  It really worked for me to change this time from simply “being creative” to having a “creative practice”.  My brain knows it’s special time set aside for focus on one thing. Creative practice is time where the sole purpose to apply your creativity.

This shift relieves judgement and pressure to measure up to some ideal, which may be an internal or external thing, and you may not even know where you got this thing from!  You may or may not feel you are creative, but you are practicing it, and it simply doesn’t matter how you feel when you start.  As you work, new ideas and inspiration flows.

Deciding what and when and where.

It’s all about showing up.

First thing to do is decide what you wish to work on which can be anything.

I’ve been painting and writing at various intensities over the past five years.  Sometimes it’s been full on madness, other times, I only have excuses.  My favorite was always, I don’t know what I feel like painting.  As if it matters!! Sometimes you just gotta do it, and it doesn’t matter what comes out.  But that is training too.. the making yourself do. A creative habit is extremely valuable.

The next step is to set a schedule you can keep.  Make this time special.  Be sure to fill the entire time period you have with focus on your work.  If it’s ten minutes or three hours, it fine, but try to keep the time and day steady. If you need to grow into it, start with a short period of time and slowly work up to longer periods.

If you establish your practice at a certain time and a certain place, it eventually becomes both a mental and physical habit. Your mind and body expects to be doing your practice at a certain time and place.  After awhile, it will feel odd not to, and your day won’t seem complete without time for your practice.

I chose after dinner to do my painting, usually for a couple hours. I still don’t always know what I want to paint, but I find something.  I sometimes have to look around for an idea or I decide to make a variation of something I have already painted. Repetition is fine. It’s a chance for style development as well as practice at technical skills.


One of the most important aspects of doing a creative practice is approaching it with a nonjudgmental attitude.  You can keep a record of how often you are able to do your creative practice without any judgement. If you miss a day, simply note it. If you make it, then note that too.  It’s neither good or bad.  It just is, and this is freeing.

Allow yourself to create without worry about any outcome.  Enjoy the process of the work.  If you are at the beginning of your creative journey or feel rusty or out of practice, go easy on yourself.  Don’t get overwhelmed by how much you ground you need to cover.  Learn your process and discipline and discover as you go.

With practice, there really aren’t any specific goals.  You might want to finish projects and move to the next, and that is fine, but if it takes one day or ten days isn’t important. It’s the discipline to show up and the the time for self expression that matter.

The benefits

This is the yummy part.  These are only a few of the benefits, there are many more that come with more time.

  • It will light you up when you see your progress.  Both in the amount you have created, and the incredible boost in your skills that come with steady practice. It’s really quite amazing. You will feel charged up about continuing.
  • You will start taking chances.  This is the juicy part of creativity. When you begin to feel comfortable pushing your boundaries and exploring you chip away at the fears and rules we follow that block our creative expression.  Many are buried so deeply you don’t even realize it and your steady practice with out them, so you can take action.  Doing this repeatedely  will help build a strong mindset where you believe you can overcome fear.  You might find yourself suddenly doing something that seemed out of your reach even recently.
  • That commitment thing. It really does make it easy when you have decided to spend your time on yourself.  There isn’t any question whether you will, and you can’t make excuses.  It feels good to do something you know you love, and there is real satisfaction in the results.  The reward for this commitment is building discipline which will spread to other areas of your life.
  • It becomes a ritual, a thing you do daily, and these little things we do direct who we become. So you want to be more creative? Spend time accessing it and you will become so.
  • You can stay nonjudgmental about the practice itself, but the skills and achievements are wins for you.  They make you feel good and this is positive reinforcement that our brains love. So stop and celebrate these little wins.  Feel satisfaction in achievement and let it help you cycle into more achievement.


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