What does your dream creative career look like?
Take a moment to think about it.
Now, how many steps are there between where you currently are and where you want to be? A few? Too many to count?
Regardless of the answer to that question, you have the power each day to control how creative your life is, as you work your way toward your professional goals.
Let’s look at 11 creativity routines that immediately enliven your day.
1. Plan your workdays
Does it sound like we’re not starting out on a very creative note?
Hear me out.
My number-one tip for having more ideas and overcoming stifled creativity is giving yourself the proper space for creative ideas to show up … and then having the space to develop them.
All of that happens for me during my workdays because I have routines.
If I just let my days unfold without boundaries — encouraging creative chaos instead of disciplined creativity — I’d not only be stressed out about finding creative ideas, I’d have trouble executing them properly.
Plan out necessary activities in your daily life, so you have the freedom to explore your creativity at other times.
2. Schedule daydreaming
Daydreaming only leads to procrastination or getting behind schedule if you fail to schedule it into your day.
Anyone whose work relies on creativity needs time to let their mind wander, so treat daydreaming like any other task you’d plan to complete during your workday.
There’s no pressure here, either. Brilliant content ideas aren’t the goal. In fact, the goal is to ease your mind so you’re more receptive to good ideas at any time during the day.
I actually thought of the importance of this one while I “wasn’t working” and letting my mind wander. At first, it seemed a little too simple to mention, but then I remembered how essential the notion of prescribed daydreaming is to content marketing.
3. Move around
“Sitting down to think” can block your creative energy.
There’s certainly a time for seriously concentrating on your work at a desk, in front of a computer or notebook, but taking time each day for physical movement is a vital part of a creative life.
Being present in your body can help settle a noisy mind and give you momentum to innovate.
Since I’m not a “morning person,” it’s important for me to move around as soon as possible after I wake up.
Whether you’re a walker, a yogi, or weight lifter, take advantage of any types of physical activities during your day to create space for mental clarity.
4. Desensitize yourself to opinions
As a recovering perfectionist, I created an Instagram account dedicated to posting photos of drawings I sketch quickly.
The point is to post a cartoon as soon as I communicate my idea, not to obsess over making it look great.
Between you and me, oftentimes I don’t even have an exact message to communicate in a drawing, so I leave it up to the audience to project meaning onto a post.
Because even when we meticulously craft our intentions in our art, each viewer will still interpret the piece based on their own perspective and worldview.
This experiment helps me release control and desensitize myself to the inevitable opinions you subject yourself to when you publish content. And I’ve actually come to like and appreciate my “ugly” drawings.
If you create a public, personal platform for not your best work, you’ll feel less nervous when you launch more important, professional projects.
5. Complete mini projects
Do you have a few hours to finish one creative endeavor every week?
This content will be more thorough and polished than your non-perfectionist exercises.
You’ll strengthen your skills when you consistently add mini projects to your daily routine — and get the satisfaction of completion at the end of the week.
We can tie together these first five creativity routines with the frequently covered and referenced song “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James and the Shondells.
I paid homage to the song in one of my cartoons, and then looked up its history after posting the image:
“The title, ‘Crimson and Clover,’ was decided before a song had been written for it. The combination of unknown meaning came to James as he was waking up, comprising his favorite color — crimson — and his favorite flower — clover. (There is also a species of clover native to Europe called the crimson clover.) A song to fit the phrase was written by Tommy James and bassist Mike Vale, but was scrapped. His following collaboration with drummer Peter Lucia, Jr. was more successful (Lucia has said that he himself came up with the Crimson and Clover phrase while watching a high school football game between his hometown Morristown (NJ) Crimson and Hopatcong (green, or ‘clover’)).”
It turned out to be an excellent example of the creative process and how a piece of art takes on different meanings and interpretations once it’s released into the world:
“Joan Jett and the Blackhearts covered ‘Crimson and Clover’ on their debut LP in 1981. In 1982, they reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 with their rendition (in a slightly enhanced AOR/single mix), their second-highest charting hit in the U.S. …
“‘Crimson and Clover’ has been covered by many other artists, some of whom have charted with the song. Patrick Samson reached #1 in Italy with the 1969 cover (with alternative lyrics) ‘Soli si muore.’ Other artists who have covered or interpreted the song include Aguaturbia (1969), The Uniques (1969), The Snake Corps (1990), Sielun Veljet (1991), Bobby Conn (1995), Spanish Fly (1995, #89 on Billboard Hot 100), Deadsy and Cher (1999), Dolly Parton on Those Were the Days (2005), Prince on Lotusflower (2009), Broken Bells (2010), Lissa Schneckenberger (2013), Teho Teardo and Blixa Bargeld (2014) and A. G. Cook (2020).”
Let’s get back to our list …
6. Check off one task
While starting and finishing a mini project in a short period of time is a great form of practice, sometimes your goal requires a long-term commitment.
This routine is about sticking with a hefty project, rather than doing a bunch of tasks quickly and then getting burned out or losing interest.
Once you break down your big idea into manageable tasks, just check off one item from your list each day — even if it’s something you can do quickly, like registering a domain name.
You don’t necessarily want to do more, even if you have time. Simply get in the habit of taking steps that help you achieve your creative goal.
7. Let the music play
Listening to music is a passive way to experience art.
In contrast to making progress on your big or mini projects, this activity is about inspiration. The sounds and lyrics you hear may indirectly (or sometimes even directly) influence your work.
We have access to all different types of music online, so put on your favorites or discover a new genre. Observe how the experience transforms your mood or makes you feel more connected to other people.
If you’d like to make this creativity routine more active, analyze how the music draws in an audience.
8. Amplify the love
This might not sound like part of a creativity routine, but select something you do every day that you love.
It could be drinking your morning coffee or walking your dog.
When you do that activity, take 10 minutes to focus on how good it makes you feel.
Even if there are other parts of your day that are less enjoyable, making time to be present during a part of your day that you love helps you relax.
And when you feel relaxed, you’re more likely to get new ideas or discover the next steps of a creative project.
9. Respect your food
This creativity routine is similar to “Amplify the love,” and it’s easy to incorporate because food is already a part of your day.
Do you make the food you eat? Does someone else?
Rather than take your food for granted and quickly gobble it up to satisfy your hunger, respect where it came from, how it was prepared, and the ways it will nourish you.
Honoring the food that fuels you ignites your creative drive.
10. Speak with intention
You also talk every day, so choose your words carefully.
Could you skip gossip and opt for phrases that make yourself and others happier?
Eloquent, intentional speech will help you become a more eloquent, intentional writer.
Use your conversations as opportunities to exercise your creativity and have more fun during your day.
11. Tell yourself a different story
If you catch yourself having anxious thoughts, consider the opposite outcome of your ruminations.
For example, if you’re nervous about a situation not working out in your favor, redirect that worry to the possibility of the situation going smoothly. Meditate on what you want the future to look like instead.
Playing around with your thoughts, rather than always believing them as the truth, not only helps you feel better, it also allows more creative solutions to arise.
One thing leads to another
Have you ever brushed off guidance about creativity routines that sounded too simple to try?
Maybe it’s time to embrace simple and seize creative opportunities already available to you.
Rather than wait for someone to give you your dream creative job, you can birth your creative life through the actions you take each day.