Doing Into Habit

In an interview with The Creative Independent, writer Helen Phillips talks about her process and thoughts towards creation. What resonated with me was the following quote:

“… and the same thing with the circumstances of my life — they are a constraint. The circumstances of everyone’s life are a constraint. How much time you have, how much money you have, how much energy you have. And you have to work with that. The fact that you have constraints doesn’t mean you can’t be a writer, or that you aren’t a writer.

For me, the above thought still makes sense if I were to swap out writer for artist. I’ve been thinking a lot about constraints — physical constrains, time constraints; life in general. If there was x then I would be able to do y, but that is placing importance on a future event or situation that might not occur. The way she talks about the creative process is very much about fulfilling a need, a creative want, right now. What is it that we can do right now to be the artist/writer/creative we want to be?

Phillips continues to share how she brings her creative needs into the everyday in a very realistic outlook:

Setting a goal that’s realistic. If that is 15 minutes a day, that’s fine. When my daughter was a month old, I didn’t write for the first month of her life. But, when she was a month old, I needed it again, so I did 15 minutes a day. That was realistic for that time… So, making goals that fit your life at that moment, and then keeping them sacred. Make it as small as it needs to be. Make it one sentence a day. Because then, I feel like if you’re working on your creative path a little bit each day, you never feel like a phony with it.

Even if it’s not going well, you’re still doing it. Even if you have a bad writing day, it doesn’t matter, because you’ll be writing again tomorrow. Whereas, if you’re only writing once a week, or once a month, if you have a bad writing day, then you hold that badness with you until the next time you write. So, holding the badness for 24 hours, versus seven days, or 30 days, is better.

… consistency is really helpful.

And at this point in my life, and it took years to get to this point, the motivation piece of it has been replaced by habit. So, at first you have to be super motivated, but if it becomes a habit, it’s like brushing your teeth. Do you have to get really motivated to brush your teeth? Not really. You just do it, because you’ve been doing it for a long time.

Making something into a habit takes a long time, but once it is part of a daily rhythm it begins to take root and shape.

Much to think about.