Habit-forming

Habit noun 1  a tendency to behave or act in a specific way. 2 A practice which is hard to give up.

Chambers Concise Dictionary

When does a habit become habitual? I imagine there comes a point when you don’t have to mentally prepare yourself as the discomfort no longer comes from the anticipation but from the lack of practice.

I’ve embarked on Crystal Moody’s A Year of Creative Habits, and this attempt somehow feels less daunting than my previous one. I suppose it’s because I don’t have to stick with one thing, such as completing a pencil drawing or flower sketch every day for the duration.  My creative outlet can vary with the weather, or my mood.  So if I want to draw for a couple of days, then feel like a bit of knitting over a weekend, then that’s fine.

One thing I’d like to do stop is my being distracted by housework when the thought of popping into the studio to try something creative feels a little too overwhelming. At the end of each day, I’d like to (at the very least) see how my daily minimum of 15 minutes-of-effort builds on the previous day’s activity, so I can plan the next step on my creative journey.

Spark. Habit. Reward.

Danny Gregory likens a habit to “a little subroutine we can plug into…”. He writes:

“Habits have three basic parts. First, there’s what I call ‘the Spark’. That’s the event that triggers the habit.”

The call to action.  I’ve started setting myself a 10:00 alarm so no matter what time I get up, I can get my ironing out of the way, then I can focus on my creative work for a while.

“Next, there’s the habitual behavior.”

The act of behaving creatively, perhaps a page of sketches for my character idea, or a beautifully rendered pencil drawing of a mushroom.

“Third, is the reward.”

This could be the smug, warm feeling that I’ll feel when I’ve completed another sketchbook page, or the homemade chocolate brownie I promised myself.

This is a subject that fascinates me, so I’ll be revisiting it frequently, and testing out lots of different suggestions I’ve collected from books and bloggers over the last year or so.

Have you successfully established a creative habit?  Any tips?

The post Habit-forming first appeared on Filbert & Smudge.

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7 thoughts on “Habit-forming

  1. For me “creative” and “habit” don’t go together. When I do something creative for me the key word is “create” I like to make something, from beginning to end. I really like to focus totally on what I am doing. I have never been able to do a little every day. I do housework that way too. After years of fighting that part of my personality I finally decided to embrace it. The dishes and dust will always still be there.

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  2. I’d love to be so absorbed in a creative project that I lose track of time, and I’m working towards that, but my creative confidence has had many knocks in the past so I’m taking it a step at a time.

    For me, housework is best done little and often. I set a timer and aim to clean and tidy a room before the buzzer goes so it feels more like a game than a chore!

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  3. I guess if you do something habitually for a long time, it becomes automatic, and you don’t have to think about it when you do it. I have a lot of bad habits, which are really hard to break, but to become good at something, you have to do it habitually. Like me, if I want to become good at photography, I have to do it over and over until it becomes second nature to me. That’s also why I blog every day; I want to become good at it. It feels like an achievement when I finish each blog post 🙂

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    1. Yes, if it’s habitual then any discomfort comes from not acting. It seems to be the other way around when we’re trying to establish a habit.

      I feel the same about drawing as you do about photography. At the mo I’m learning basic techniques so I feel in control of my output. And every little success is a step in the right direction.

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      1. Exactly, I totally agree, the only way to get good at something is to practice. I learned in psychology that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert 🙂 which is a lot, but if you enjoy it then it doesn’t seem a lot if time!

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