“We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavoring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.”
⏤ Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in Life and Letters of Peter Tchaikovsky*
Over and over again, I learn from accomplished writers, musicians and creatives that we must show up every day to create in hopes for the muse to inspire us rather than wait for the muse to show and then begin our creative work.
As a writer and creative artist (audio-video), I've found this to be true. Just before the new year began, I committed to write every single day starting Jan 2nd (Jan 1st was a day spent celebrating with friends and share our new year's goals). Whether I was inspired or not, I'd sit at my computer. Whether it was a work day or a weekend, I would show up to write. Whether I was awake and vibrant or sleepy and dull, I would begin typing away. This I promised. And so far, 15 days later, I'm happy at my results. Not counting this post, here are some stats:
Writing Period: Jan 2nd to Jan 14th = 13 days
Total Words written: 11,689
Average Words written per day: 899
Blogs published: 4!!! (I used to churn out one blog a week, so four is a really big change).
In these 13 days, I have found Tchaikovsky's words to ring true. Not every day did I produce content that I felt worthy of publishing. Out of the 13 days of writing, only 4 of those days did I have something I published. And I know for sure that none of these 4 blog posts are the best I can produce at this time. With all that I have learnt in my life about writing, about the creative process, there's an outstanding article waiting to emerge out of me. But you know what, those posts that I did write, are good enough. They are good enough.
Key to Creative Success: Showing Up Every Day
So, my friend, if you are a creative artist or need creative solutions in whatever field you are working in, what I have found is that showing up every day to your creative project, is the first key step towards getting in touch with your muse, your inspiration, towards tapping in to your creative energy and letting it flow.
Notice I said, "...showing up every day..." not simply showing up one day and then taking a break. I speak from my own experience. I have begun new projects many a times in my last 7 years at Reflection Pond and I have worked on them during the week, taking the weekends off. And although I am a firm believer in taking time off (see my post here about taking 10 days off for silent retreat), during the rest of the time, it's key to show up every single day.
Keeping the Momentum
Several years ago, I met a professional, a former colleague of my husband. He had invited us for brunch to his home to meet his wife and two kids. After we had a wonderful brunch and spent ample time getting to know his family, we started on our way back. As we were leaving, he got ready in his running outfit and put on his running shoes. I asked him, "how many times a week do you go running?" He said, "Every day." I was surprised as here I was having trouble trying to even make 3 times a week for my exercise schedule. I said, "You don't take the weekends off?" "No," he replied. "It would be too hard to start again then on Monday."
This was may be 5 or 6 years ago but his statement really made an impression on me. And only years later did it really make sense to me as I had started and failed at many new habits that I was building. I began walking every day about a year and a half ago. I realized that whenever I took the weekends off, it was easy for me to delay starting again. From Monday, it would move to Tuesday and then with great effort I would begin again, only to drop off the habit on the weekend. Come Monday, I would begin the gargantuan task of building the walking habit again.
Now for a year or so, I have been walking daily even on weekends (on days when it the temperature drops to negative degrees, I run up and down the stairs at home several times!).
And now I am applying this understanding to my commitment and habit of writing daily. I write on weekends to - even if it is just 30 minutes. This way, I continue the thread and can keep the momentum going. Momentum is a friend of yours when you are building a new habit. Once you start, you build up this forward moving energy which makes it easier and easier for you to continue it. Each day, you may still find resistance to "doing" your project or whatever the new habit is. But it will be immensely less than if you were to start fresh, from scratch.
Keeping your momentum is essential - and that means showing up every day.
This is a very important part of building your new habit. When we are at the early stages of the habit, there will be times when you miss a day. It could be because of you being ill or you needing to take care of other necessary things in your life. Until you have build the right conditions around your new habit, you will, sooner later, miss a day. (Right conditions in this sense mean protecting your writing time or new habit time dearly, removing all obstacles from around it, having other parts of your life that you can influence well taken care of so that your "habit time" or "creative project time" or "running time" are sacred, not disturbed).
So then when you do miss a day from showing up, you have to develop kindness towards yourself. Too often, I have beaten up myself for "failing" at my new habit. And this doesn't really help. So before you begin, know that you will miss a day possibly and already now in the beginning decide what you will do when that happens. Some suggestions:
If I miss a day, knowing these things happen, I will be kind to myself, and:
1. Forgive myself and treat myself kindly: "It's okay you missed a day, let's start again."
2. Take a few minutes to assess what were the conditions like that led me to miss a day. And then work to correct or improve upon it.
3. Recommit and start again.
Let's heed the words of the great Russian composer, Tchaikovsky who said, "We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination." Let's be patient that inspiration, muse, the creative flow will arrive at our fingertips and show up every single day to our "work". Yes, even on weekends!
What is the One project or new habit you are building in this new year? Please share in the comments what that is. And also share your own experiences with building new habits: challenges faced and solutions arrived at. I'd love to read them.
Sidenote: Whenever I read inspiring quotes, I often wonder who was the person who said or wrote those words. Reading quotes, I find, is a good way to do some digging to find out just a little bit more of the writer/speaker, as their lifestory and life's work gives us much to ponder about.
So whenever I can, I will add a little introduction from Wikipedia or other source to start off your research and add it to the end of the post in a teeny section called: About the Author of The Quote.
*About the Author of the Quote:
"Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer of the romantic period, some of whose works are among the most popular music in the classical repertoire. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, bolstered by his appearances as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States." ⏤ Wikipedia
You are invited to join my free email course: