Twyla Tharp has built a career out of being creative. About ten years ago she compiled all the knowledge she has gained over thirty-five years of creative work into a book called The Creative Habit. The basic premise is that artists need to create habits to prepare themselves to work and get through creative deserts, the idea being that creativity is not “a gift from the gods” but a daily practice. In her experience, daily habits into your creative self will naturally produce a creative life.
As a writer I struggle with the concept of enough time. Hell, I struggle with that as a person. There is never enough time in the day, days in the month, months in the year. Lately I can see it’s a product of overbooking myself, filling up every corner of my life as though I’ll lose that time if I don’t use it wisely. Essentially, I’m in a cyclical state of overwork. And when I’m overworked, I stop journalling.
For me, journalling is about putting down the crap no one will ever see, the shitty and complaining muck, the brilliant and magical gems, the who really gives a damn what it’s like because it’s just for me kind of writing. I know it’s vital to my creative and personal life, but it’s the first thing to go when extra time dwindles into non-existence. I’ve tried, fruitlessly, to create a daily ritual to avoid this, but wanting to sleep in or changes in my schedule or any other number of excuses has caused me to pull the covers tight and go back to sleep on my writing.
My friend recommended The Creative Habit to me and after reading the first few paragraphs, I understood why:
“After so many years, I’ve learned that being creative is a full-time job with its own daily patterns. That’s why writers, for example, like to establish routines for themselves…They might set a goal for themselves–write fifteen hundred words, or stay at their desk until noon–but the real secret is that they do it every day. In other words, they are disciplined.”
This hit me hard; discipline has always eluded me. But I’m beginning to see it’s the key to me moving forward in my writing and in my life. So I took the risk of trying, once again, to begin a daily writing routine, with the risk being that I will fail as I have so many times before.