The Power of Creative Routines, Part II

The Power of Creative Routines, Part II

This is Part 2 in a series on The Power of Creative Routines. If you missed Part 1, click here.

Supportive Structures

Accessing the power of routines is about creating supportive structures in our lives that have us putting what we most cherish and desire first and foremost in our days.

Routines then allow those healthy habits to become automatic, so that we do them without a ton of resistance, without needing to decide each time whether or not we’re going to do it.

This, in turn, frees up precious energy and time that would have been spent resisting, deciding, dithering, frittering, aimless. Instead we have energy and passion to be creative, to devote to our dreams.

This is what any good coach, mentor or course will do for us. They create supportive structures in our lives that help us focus around what matters most to us, so we don’t lose track. They also give us practical, do-able steps and guidance to move forward towards what we desire.

Any good course, whether it is a group program or one-on-one, can help with this, because it is so much easier to form new habits with the support of others, with encouragement and accountability and regular structure.

So, one way to begin getting healthy routines in your life is to sign up for a course or get yourself a coach or mentor.

Which Routines Do I Need?

Which routines will create supportive structures for your life around that which you most value? Because that is what you want to support, cultivate, put front and center in your life.

If you value your health, it makes sense to have regular exercise become a routine—and, I would add, it’s best if that is exercise you enjoy, that brings pleasure to body and soul.

If you value creativity, it makes sense to create structures that support creativity, such as a space that is conducive to creating, times set aside for making art each week, habits and rituals to help you begin that promote an inspired creative state in you. 

Make a list of things you most value, love or enjoy, that you desire in your life. Mine includes creativity, love and spirituality.

Write down: What routines or habits do you already have that support what you love and value?

What habits are not supporting something you value or are robbing you of time and energy for what you love?

Create a Routine 

Now, get creative, curious, experimental. What one new routine or practice could you try on that would foster something you love or value, that would support you having more of that in your life?

Choose a new routine and commit to it for the next 3 weeks. Keep a log of each time you do it. A star on your calendar will work for this.

If you miss a day, simply re-commit and do it the next time. Don’t beat yourself up or try to make up for missed days. This will only sabotage you.

At the end of the 3 weeks, evaluate. I recommend you do this in writing. How did it work for me? Do I need adjust the routine in some way or try something different? What support might I need to keep going?

Have Accountability and Constancy

One of the most powerfully helpful practices I know for accomplishing your heart’s desires is to have an accountability buddy or a group, a mentor or coach, that you check in with regularly. That way, you have a place to report on how it’s going, get support when you feel lost or are struggling, and celebrate when you have a breakthrough.

The Best Creative Practice

The most supportive creative habit I know is to schedule creative time (what I call “studio time”) into your calendar every week, preferably on the same day(s) and at the same time(s) each week.

Photo by Ben White on

Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. And don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll get to it sometime in the week. Show up at the same time week after week, and the muse will start showing up too. You’ll also learn how to be creative without needing that lighting bolt that comes and goes.

It doesn’t matter if you start with 3 ten-minute periods of time or one 5-hour block. Choose whatever works best for you, your creativity and your current life. Whatever helps you overcome resistance. What matters is actually showing up at the time you set and doing what you set out to do.

Start small and then build on your successes. I can’t emphasize this point enough. Start with whatever feels do-able and inviting. You can always add more later.

This may take some trial and error to find what actually is most supportive of you and your flourishing creativity. It also requires devotion, a willingness to keep playing with it. And to notice what gets in the way if you don’t show up at the time you planned. What changes do you need to make?

There are many helpful routines for establishing a life you love. The key is to find the ones that align with you, and then to make them a habit through repetition and constancy.

Especially early on in establishing a new routine, it’s important not to skip days and make lots of excuses. This will slow you way down in developing a true creative habit.

If you’re still stuck, you may have some limiting beliefs and old patterns that keep sabotaging your creativity. That’s where a really good creativity coach or mentor can be invaluable.

Let me know how it goes for you. I’d love to hear your stories, insights and questions. If you post your comments here, I’ll respond.

And if you got value from what you read here, please use the links below to share this with your friends.

To your prolific creativity,




P.S. If you’d like help creating a life centered around what you love, I offer one-on-one Coaching and Mentoring. If you’re curious about how this could support you in your life dreams, email me to sign up for a free Discovery Session. We’ll explore various options and see if we are a good match for creating your big life dreams.



The Power of Creative Routines Part 1

The Power of Creative Routines Part 1

Today I share with you the first of a series of posts on The Power of Creative Routines to support you in your creativity and in actually living your dreams.

This is something most, if not all, professional artists know. And it can be the dividing point between those who realize their dreams and those who don’t. So read on!

[Other news: I have space in my schedule for a few more Creativity Coaching & Mentoring folks. If you find yourself struggling to fulfill your life dreams… If you want abundant creativity, fulfillment and freedom in your life… If you are frustrated, stuck and tired of going it alone… contact me here to set up a free Discovery Session.]

The Power of Routines Part 1


photo by Alex Jones

There’s a popular notion that a new habit can be formed in 21 days. A simple habit, like taking a vitamin pill each morning, can happen in as little as 21 days. But, studies show that anything more involved, like cultivating a new exercise regime or, say, a regular creative practice, takes more than 84 days to become habitual. 84 days was the length of one of the studies.

My own experience working with people for many years to cultivate healthy creative habits bears this out.

People often ask me why The Artist’s Way course that I teach is 90 days long. They want the quick fix, less commitment. But, in my experience, 90 days is the shortest possible time to form life-long habits and perspectives that nourish and sustain a happy, healthy creative life. Most of us need six months or more for those new practices and ways of being to become truly habitual.

Habits Are Automatic

Woman drinking coffee early morning

by Benjamin Combs

A new activity, way of thinking or being becomes a habit when it becomes automatic. That means you don’t question each time whether or not you are going to do it. You just do it. And there’s very little friction or resistance, very little wear and tear.

For many people brushing your teeth is a habit. You do it daily without thinking. You don’t fight with yourself over whether you are going to do it or not.

Writing is like this for me. I have studio time at certain times of the week, and I just show up without question and begin. In fact, I can’t wait to get into my studio, even when the work is hard. Part of why this works so well for me is because I have ways to enter into the work, but that’s a topic for another day.

Why Bother Forming Creative Routines?

writer's desk

by Dustin Lee

Forming habits and routines that nourish and sustain your creativity and your life dreams helps you stop being constantly at war with yourself over trying to get yourself to create, or judging everything you create, or unhappy about what you are or are not producing.

Instead you create a life in which you feel that eagerness, the playful delight, the curiosity, the wonder and the inspired flow of creating, and you are able to tap into that regularly. You feel alive and aligned with yourself. You’re doing what you love and making it a central part of your life. And that feels good.

Without Habits, Resistance Wins

For many people, making art is not a habit, so it comes and goes, if it happens at all. If you plan on doing it, part of you tries to weasel out of it or distracts you with a million other things to do first. Most of the time that part of you wins.

When you think about making art, you may dread it, argue with yourself about it, or simply avoid it. Then you feel frustrated with yourself and think you are lacking some fundamental quality required to sustain a creative life.

To support and sustain yourself in living the life you dream of, in following your heart’s dreams and desires, the way becomes much easier and more enjoyable when you put positive, supportive habits into place.

Creative Routines Feel Good


by Luis Davila

The good news is that the habits that support a creative life are generally enjoyable and fulfilling. And the relief you get from not fighting yourself anymore and actually doing what you love and long to do is huge. You also free up a lot of energy.

But first you have to make your creative practices into a habit, a regular routine. They need to become embedded in your daily life. Then you start reaping big rewards.

But I Hate Routines!

Many artists or creative types are averse to routines. They love spontaneity and don’t want to be tied down. But, without any structure or habits, they often find themselves at sea in their creative lives. Either they don’t know what to focus on creatively, so they don’t begin or fritter the time away, or they simply do not making any time to do the things they love.

Many artists resist routines because they don’t know how to create routines that actually work for them and their lifestyle and personality.

They also don’t know how to foster routines in a loving way. Instead they summon the Inner Taskmaster, who tries to bully them into keeping routines, and then they resist and rebel. They find themselves locked in an endless war within.

So, they try and fail and become convinced that routines don’t work for them. Meanwhile, life continues to feel unruly and chaotic, and they don’t make much progress toward their big life dreams.

If you develop routines and rituals that feel good to you and that make doing what you love and following your dreams a part of your daily life, you’ll soon find you have a life you really love.

In my next post, I’ll talk about how to start fostering creative routines that work for you. We’ll look at the kinds of routines and support that foster a flourishing creative life and help you realize your heart’s big dreams.

Until then, may you flourish in your creativity and in your life,




P.S. How do you feel about creative routines? What gets in the way of sticking to them?
Post your comment here and I’ll respond.

P.P.S. If you like what you read here, use the share buttons below to spread the love. Thanks!

The Power of Ritual: Tending Your Creative Fire, Part 1

The Power of Ritual: Tending Your Creative Fire, Part 1

[This post in the first in a two-part series on Tending Your Creative Fire and getting started creating.]

Getting started with creative activity is the very hardest part.

We say we want to write, paint, sculpt, make films, sing, but when it comes to actually doing it, we procrastinate and distract ourselves endlessly, never seeming to get around to it.

And thus, another day goes by when we aren’t living our dreams. We beat ourselves up about it, but that doesn’t do any good.

So how do you get yourself to actually sit down at the piano or your desk, enter your studio, stand at your easel, pick up the pen, or doing anything else you love to do?

Two Extremely Helpful Practices To Get You Creating

Two things will help you most to get started creating each time:

1) A regular creative practice at the same day/same time each week, so that it becomes an unquestioned habit (nothing helps more than this). See my post on The Power of Creative Routines for more about this.

2) A way into the creative activity itself, a way to begin.

In this essay and the next one, I address the second step above. I talk about ways to help yourself get started once you are in the studio. However, these tools will also reduce resistance to getting yourself there in the first place. (To find out more about getting yourself into the studio, read my essay on Resistance to Creating.)

Create a Simple Ritual to Invoke Your Muse


Photo by Michael Duliba

Create a regular way to enter into your creative practice. A simple ritual is helpful. Simple is, most often, best, so that your ritual doesn’t become yet another hindrance to doing creative work.

The ritual serves to alert you that you are entering a different state of being, one set apart from the workaday world, you are opening yourself to the creative flow, making yourself available to greater powers to flow through.

The ritual is like a gateway you pass through to enter the creative state. It announces your availability to your muse.

I like to light a candle, ring a small bell, and say a short prayer. Sometimes I also fill a bowl with water and a few drops of essential oils and wash my hands in a symbolic act. In this way, I evoke my physical senses and engage my whole being in the creative act to come.

Take a Moment to Connect

In whatever ritual you choose, take a moment to connect to the following three things:

  1. Your reason for creating—what it gives you, why you love it, why it matters. This is what I call your Deep Why.
  2. A promise and commitment to yourself to not judge what happens during your creative time that day—not the work itself, nor how much you did or did not do, nor your abilities or talent.
  3. A sense of offering up your work in service to something larger than yourself. This may be the world, others who will benefit from it, the Divine, or art and beauty itself. In other words, detach from your ego’s ambitions and attachments to the work and reconnect to a deeper purpose.

It only takes a minute or two to connect to these three things, and they will help you be motivated and free to create from a place of love and giving, and keep your ego mind more quiet, so that you can do the work/play.

At the end of my creative time, I have a little ritual of closure to mark my transition back to the so-called ordinary world. I ring the bell again, blow out the candle, and pour the water in the bowl onto the earth outside.

Ritual Helps Us Enter the Creative State

Full disclosure: I don’t always do my ritual. Sometimes I resist the ritual itself. Often I simplify it to just lighting a candle and ringing a bell.

But I find the ritual helps me in small, subtle ways to cross a threshold into creativity and to sanctify the time and activity, making me less apt to get distracted or off-course or to postpone starting.

The ritual also reminds me that I do the work not for my sake alone, but for a greater purpose, that my art is meant to serve others and the Divine. It gives me a moment to reconnect to this larger purpose and helps me put my ego aside and dive into connection with something larger than me and more meaningful, and that, at the same time, is motivating and inspiring to me.

Your Ritual Needs to be Right for You

Meditating person

Photo by Dingzeyu Li

Bottom line: Your ritual needs to work for you and suit your nature. It could be going for a walk or doing yoga before your creative time. Coming into the body and getting the energy flowing is very helpful because our creative energy is our life force energy, or chi, and it helps to have that flowing.

Your ritual might be as simple as clearing off your desk before sitting down to write, removing distractions. Some artists put on a special piece of clothing each time or their favorite music. Some simply begin by making a strong cup of tea or coffee. Many have superstitious and strange habits that work to signal their muse to show up.

Your ritual need not be elaborate, and it is essential that it works for you. By “works for you” I mean it suits your nature, and it does not become another obstacle to creativity. Your ritual should help you to enter the creative state, to invoke your creativity and inspiration and set aside your self-judgments, doubts and preoccupations with the rest of life for the time being. You may need to experiment a bit to find a ritual you like.

In our next issue of Creative Sparks, I give you some bright ideas to help you overcome the blank page/blank canvas syndrome and get creating. Click here to read Part 2 of this series on Tending Your Creative Fire.

To your creative fire,



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