The new year is a week away. My resolution is simple–to create more. Something I’ve been promising myself I would do for at least a year now. There have been spurts of success in that time and eons of failure. My brain has become adept at self-nagging. Like most nagging, it’s getting me nowhere.
I’ve spent the last week trying to figure out how to eliminate the large chunks of wasteland in my creative life. (Step one: Admit I have a creative life. Saying that feels like I need a qualifier.) When you read about goal setting, most agree that progress mustbe definable. For a long time, I’ve thought I’d write a novel, because of this goal setting advice. Writing a novel is like running a marathon, not a sprint, or so I’ve heard. I’ve run a marathon. It seemed like a perfect parallel.
I’d still like to write a novel. I have a novel partially done that I’d like to finish. Of course, when your novel sits unattended for a couple months, it’s tough to pick back up on it. I’ve lost touch with my characters and plot. Also, it feels like failure. It would be easier if I wrote daily. But it is not easy to write daily.
Yesterday, I re-read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Having the creative life I want means developing creative habits. It means making creativity what Duhigg calls a keystone habit. A keystone habit is one that changes all of your other habits. The book starts out with a woman who decides to trek across the desert, but decides that she must quit smoking first. She quits smoking and she ends up getting in shape and paying off her debt. In another chapter, a failing company focuses all of their efforts on safety and profits soar. I’ve envisioned getting the novel done and building this blog. But I struggle with what the ripple effects might look like. In fact, they might be what scares me most.
Still, “be more creative” feels nebulous. I need goals within that goal. Duhigg also writes about the need for small wins. These are frequent opportunities to feel like you’re succeeding. In marathon training, these would be the weekly long runs when you hit unreal mileage goals, like 20 mile runs. Afterwards, I always feel like a bit of a superhero. It’s a weekly ego boost.
I’m still working on what my small wins could be. This blog is the first. I’m not sure many people read blogs anymore, especially new ones. What’s important to me is I’m writing on it. Another small win I’d like to cultivate is two hours of creative time a day. I’m sure some days I’ll be short, but others I’ll go over. The two hours could be consecutive or in short blocks throughout the day. Ultimately, I’d like to have 730 hours of creative time in 2018.
Anything creative counts in these hours. As much as this is about adding in hours, it’s about recognizing creative acts. I’ve been teaching myself to cook more diverse healthy meals and those count. I signed up for a sculpture class in January. That will give me three hours once a week.
I’m still working out much of Duhigg’s advice and much of it leads me to new books I want to read. That is typical for me. For now, I consider this blog post a small win towards my creative habit.