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As previously seen on Wit & Delight
Editor’s Note: Our March theme, Say Yes, is about making a deliberate choice that shakes things up and grants a new perspective. Contributor Jill Elliott is a master of creativity and in this post from 2019, she shares how you can say yes to practicing creativity daily. We hope it inspires you to get out there and create something new this spring.
As a lifelong creative, I have always looked forward to little pockets of time for making art. A time for my hands to be busy and my brain to relax a bit and just play. Usually, these pockets of time were found on the weekends, holidays and vacations and weeks and months would creep by without any creative time. Midway through 2018, craving a consistent and sustainable approach to art, I started keeping a daily art journal.
This quick, loose, no rules, no expected outcome exercise gives me a chance, daily, to play and explore. It’s quickly become an addiction that reminds me to connect with creativity for a few moments each day. If you’re looking to build or restart your creative habit—and enjoy the many benefits creativity can bring your way—this (IMO) is the way to start. For a few minutes each day, you can practice the process, connect to the calm + joy that comes from creating something, and fire the neurons in your brain that bring more innovative thinking your way.
For a few minutes each day, you can practice the process, connect to the calm + joy that comes from creating something, and fire the neurons in your brain that bring more innovative thinking your way.
As with any new habit, starting a daily creative practice takes a bit of prep + pep. Here, are the five things that helped me get going:
1. Set a timer, and keep it short.
Start with short daily doses of creativity. Most days, I do mine first thing, with a cup of coffee or tea, for 10 – 15 minutes. Other days, if I’m not feeling so creative first thing, I’ll sneak it in right after lunch. My setup is in a corner in my kitchen, so mealtimes are a gentle reminder for me to make it happen. Find a time that works for you, set a timer, and keep it short and consistent. Eventually, you’ll find the benefits so amazing from this little sliver of time, you’ll start carving out more time in your schedule. Start small, start doable, start today.
2. Do it for the process, not the outcome.
The goal of daily practice, or any creative habit in my book, is to enjoy the process. Creative practice increases joy + purpose and invites connection + reflection. It quiets anxiety and reduces stress. By calming your mind and focusing on the process, you’ll experience these moments of joy and fun daily, which will begin to carry over into the rest of your day. That’s the point. The outcome? The actual art you make? Sometimes it will be terrible. Other times it will be great. But that’s not for you to concern yourself with. Focus on the process, the benefits and let the outcome just be.
3. Make the setup special.
I get inspired to create by working with beautiful supplies that make me happy just to be using them. I use a high-quality paper versatile enough for sketching to painting. I use tools for marking including watercolors, indigo ink, markers, and sketching pens. I like to display my supplies visibly in curated arrangements and make them part of our decor. If that doesn’t work for your home, find a spot that keeps them neat, organized, and grab-ready.
The setup is an invitation to calm your mind and start your practice. If you’re scurrying about looking for materials daily, you’re less likely to enjoy the process and switch into happy creating mode as quickly. So pick a spot, gather your materials, and make it inviting.
4. Set a goal for your practice.
I am on a mission to increase FUN and decrease work. I approach much of life as work, with a crazy to-do list, usually forgetting to enjoy myself as I go through the tasks. Creating daily is a natural connection to fun and joy. It reminds me to slow down and enjoy the moments as they go. For me, color is an instant shift into my happy place, so I focus on color exploration and unique combinations in my daily journal. Whatever your intention, get clear on it, and remind yourself of that each day as you begin your work.
5. Keep a bank of inspiration.
Start a folder of coasters, cards, gift wrap, magazine swipes, photos, anything that inspires you. Curate a Pinterest board to catalog color combos or art that speaks to your soul. I use both methods and reference them often when I’m stumped for an idea. My work never looks like the inspiration, but it’s helpful to have a starting point—especially when you’re new to the practice.
My hope is that once you begin this journey, you’ll find the time well spent. The calm, joy, and beauty that this little practice invites into your routine will color the rest of your day, leaving you inspired, looking for beauty, and sharing your passion with others. Go make something!
Jill Elliott is a creative consultant, strategist, and thinker constantly seeking inspiration and balance. As a writer, artist, and founder of The Color Kind she seeks to inspire others to live creatively every day. She can often be found making art and messes alongside her 8-year-old daughter and Goldendoodle puppy.