How routines help creativity – Day 109

My migraine decided to stick around so I’ve moving very slowly today. I did get up at my regular time and paint this morning though. I’ve established a very comforting routine in the morning and it is the time I seem to be most productive.

I was thinking about this when I ran across this article on Flipboard, in 99% Productivity Insights for Creatives – “How Mundane Routines Produce Creative Magic” by Mark McGuiness.

Here is how Mark says routine helps with creativity:

By repeating the same routine every day, all these creators are effectively hypnotizing themselves, deliberately altering their state of consciousness in order to access the “deeper state of mind” that allows them to work their creative magic. The different elements of the routine become associated with this creative state of mind, so that they can re-enter it by simply repeating the steps of the routine.

If you want to develop your ability to enter the creative zone at will, you should know that there are three conditions for a really effective hypnotic trigger:

Uniqueness – it should be something (or a combination of things) you don’t associate with other activities, otherwise the effect will be diluted.
Emotional intensity – the kind you experience when you’re really immersed in creative work.
Repetition – the more times you experience the unique trigger in association with the emotions, the stronger the association becomes.

So to fine-tune your daily routine for maximum creative magic, make sure the key triggers have these qualities. For example you might want to save a particular album for listening to while you work, or be careful not to use the same notepad for sketching ideas as for your to-do list. And when you have a particularly good day, make a note of something in your routine for that day, that you can associate with the emotional state – and use the same trigger the rest of the week.

My morning routine is pretty simple. I get up, shower and get dressed for work and then I head to the kitchen with the cat. I play with him for a few minutes (I try to tire him out by having him chase the red dot from the laser pointer around) and then I turn on the radio and make a cup of tea.

I get my paints out of the freezer (see previous post on that) and check my email and take a quick browse through Facebook and Twitter while the paint warms up. Then I get out the brushes and paint. I spend anywhere between 30 to 75 minutes painting depending on what time I get up. Then I have some breakfast, pack up the paints, clean my brushes and head to the office.

Do you have routines? How do they help your creativity?

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11 thoughts on “How routines help creativity – Day 109

  1. emjayzed

    That is interesting. I would have assumed that routine would dull creativity and accordingly have been “creating” only when my mood takes me. however of recent times this had been unsuccesssful due to a busy schedule and me not setting aside ample time to create. I haven’t made it a priority.

    Thanks for the post, I’m going to try this method for something different and see how it goes!

      1. emjayzed

        I find life’s like that, what you need shall appear – I love it too and wish there was more of it!

        I’ll keep you updated on my routine scheduling 🙂

  2. Anne Onsøien

    I agree, lately I’ve had less headaches because I set my daily routine, not too stricht but I mediate with an app from Louise Hay or Shakti Gawain morning and evening (I find it hard to consentrate alone for now) and then I go to my studio, right now I’m working on the computer with illustrations for a book. I tell myself to work around 4-5 hours with breaks every day, and do perhaps 3 pages, so I don’t feel like I have to do it all every day. I always start the day with breakfast and maybe checking blogs to connect with the outside world…with some nice coffee;-)

    It’s hard to make a structure, especially when working at home, but I do find that it helps the creative process, I allow myself to change the routine if I feel like it. I swim 3 times a week in the morning (Well, my “morning”;-) and also try to put a meeting with a friend into my day once or twice a week, since I’m working at home. It helps. What I really find helpful is to put this scheduale in my iPad so that I feel like it’s some sort of routine, and it also allows me to see that I do have time for other things after filling up the hours of work and exercise…

    The kickstart for me was someone saying on Hay House Radio that nothing happens if it’s only in your head, unless you put it down on paper to “plan” it… I had this overwhealming feeling that I had to do as much as possible on the book while I didn’t have a headache…. now, that wasn’t really working for me…;-)

    Thank you for a great blogpost! It does help to have some sort of routine!! Have a great day, hope your migrene goes away!

    1. bstonehouse

      It sounds like you’ve found a good balance! I’m not sure I could work at home, there are so many distractions and I think I might miss the social interaction of the office. I like how you schedule in your exercise and visits with your friends and put it all in your iPad. I don’t know what I would do without mine now! I’m hoping to get back to exercise soon…I’ve been dealing with a neck/shoulder injury for almost a year now but I’m heading to a specialist tomorrow so we’ll see how that turns out.

      My head is much clearer today, thank goodness!

  3. weisserwatercolours

    Yes, I wish you relief from these headaches. I find them very enervating and they render me helpless (when I get them–I get them up through the shoulders).

    Thank you for asking about routines.
    I repeat the Jesus Prayer which is the Orthodox prayer of supplication most notably featured in the classic book “The Way of a Pilgrim” (c.1886)
    And I put on Orthodox chants livestreamed from http://www.myocn.com/rudder/.
    I light a candle under my Lavender Essential Oil
    I close the door to my studio and put on as many lights as possible to make it bright (this is in the darker months). For some reason, turning on the big lights triggers the response that I know I’m going to seriously paint.
    I alternate between doing miniatures, and large pieces, always stopping at creative high points so I can resume them on a high point (emotionally speaking).
    And I like to have some kind of progressive cooking task on the go, so I can occasionally go to the kitchen for some other form of creative expression, and then back to the studio.

    On Mon. Wed and Fridays I swim 100 lengths for 90 minutes which helps me maintain an even heart rate.

    When watercolour decides it isn’t my friend, I go to dark chocolate and read old issues of ‘American Artist’ curled up in a throw and my lower lip jutting.

    1. bstonehouse

      Thank you for sharing your routine Lance! I’m sorry you suffer from headaches as well….it seems a lot of artists do. Perhaps I need to do some research into why creative people suffer from migraines since it seems to be a theme.

      I love American Artist magazines! My Dad introduced them to me and I find they’re full of inspiration. I hope you don’t have to pout and resort to chocolate too often!

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