Practice, Practice, Practice.
To be creative you have to do creative.
And the do is the practice.
This is the first lesson I give my students when introducing them to creativity.
Like anything you want to develop or grow, you must expect to put in the required time and practice. Creativity is no different. It requires action. To be creative you have to activate your creative muscles over and over again in order to progress and evolve.
A creative practice is the repetition of the creative process.
Creative people prioritize a creative practice by intentionally dedicating time to their creative process every day. Although the creative process may be different for each person, the key to successfully developing creative momentum is through frequent repetition. The most effective way to develop a space for this repetition to take place is to create your own daily rituals.
Throughout my continued investigation of creativity, and the stacks of books written on the subject, I observe that every author, artist, or creative expert includes the importance of a creative practice in the success toward being creative.
World renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp makes the point directly by titling her book The Creative Habit. In the book she dedicates an entire chapter to ‘rituals of preparation’ saying,
“It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it – makes it repeatable, easy to do.”
Lisa Congdon also devotes a chapter in her book Find Your Artistic Voice to ‘The Importance of Showing Up, Practicing, and Setting Routines’. She says,
“Your voice develops as a result of showing up and making stuff, not once or twice, but over and over and over again.”
In September (2020) I began sharing my own creative practice on Instagram in what I call the CREATIVE DAILIES. I decided if I was encouraging my students to develop a creative practice each day, it was only fair to use myself as an example of how it can be done.
Several people following the dailies have asked me how I have the time to post something every day. I have two answers. First, I point out that I don’t have time, I make the time, and adding that it isn’t always easy. Second, I explain how the practice itself after a week or so begins to give back to you.
The creative momentum that comes out of a daily practice inspires the next day’s process, and the next day, and the day after that. And when the creative momentum really catches you, you don’t want to stop.
Of course there are days when I don’t feel like activating the creative muscles, but I do it anyway. In his book Keep Going Austin Kleon addresses this in the first lesson ‘Everyday is Groundhog Day’. He explains,
“The truly prolific artists…have figured out a daily practice…they have all identified what they want to spend their time on, and they work at it every day, no matter what.”
The real beauty of a creative practice is that when you make yourself present and take action every day you are then training your creative muscles to be there for you when inspiration strikes. When you commit to the process by showing up each and every day, no matter how small the action, you are in motion. This repetitive movement defines your creative world and who you become as a creative being.
I leave you with a muppets clip delivering the famous Carnegie Hall joke about practice.