“Combine your mistakes and your triumphs, stir them into the pot of artistic progress, and then savor what bubbles up.”
–The Musician’s Way, p. 112
Let’s say that you’ve pinpointed some creative goals, equipped your workspace, and scheduled daily times to create – your objectives are within reach and you’re fired up to achieve them.
Is that sufficient groundwork to establish an ongoing creative practice?
For most of us, steady creating requires additional steps because the creative process gets thorny and life can be unpredictable.
Here, then, are ten tips for maintaining a robust creative practice.
1. Microcreate. Allocating regular time to create is vital, but we can also create in short bursts whenever windows of opportunity open. On busses or trains, for instance, we can do some mental practice or jot down compositional ideas.
2. Be resilient. Given that creating involves experimentation and missteps, it takes mental toughness to keep pushing our limits. When vexing problems arise, or if we receive stinging criticism, we need to stay positive and stay the course.
3. Create through turmoil. Life brings unexpected complexities. Rather than letting our creativity be derailed by disturbances, if we keep creating through tough times, even at micro levels, we support our motivation.
4. Contravene habitual patterns. Creativity involves fresh thinking. To expose ourselves to new modes of thought, we should regularly explore the work of other musicians as well as that of creative thinkers in diverse domains. It’s also worthwhile to periodically switch up our work routines.
5. Refuse to procrastinate. Many would-be creative people put off starting or finishing projects. But such procrastinating behaviors are actually manifestations of an angst that arises when we worry about rather than dive into artistic problems. If you tend to sidestep your creative work, take up some anti-procrastination techniques. For one, think about your creative work just before you sleep and then do some microcreating as soon as you rise.
6. Collaborate. Creating with others lifts our artistry. But before we commit to collaborative projects, we and our partners should clarify our objectives and roles. See “Ten Tips for Collaborating Musicians.”
7. Access experts. Even when we do our best to switch up our viewpoints and rack up accomplishments, often we can only go so far without outside input. For that reason, even veteran artists seek feedback from colleagues and coaches.
8. Counter negativity. If we find ourselves harboring toxic thoughts like, “I’ll never have new ideas,” we should respond by disputing the negativity, affirming our ability to create, and then getting to work.
9. Maintain energy. Creating takes energy, and lots of it. So we need to commit to healthy lifestyles and also schedule restorative time. Especially when we wrap up large projects, vacations, even brief ones, ward off burnout and recharge our motivation.
10. Be accepting. Sometimes our creativity will soar; other times we’ll fumble. But by accepting the bad days with the good, we can persist on our creative paths. Ultimately, what matters most is that we consistently do the work that matters to us. In that way, we liberate our creativity, and our lives pervade with meaning.
For a comprehensive approach to unleashing creativity, see my online course 10 Steps to Lifelong Creativity.
© 2011 Gerald Klickstein
Photo © Levgenia Tikhonova, licensed from Shutterstock.com