Creating Creative Ritual
I love the quote by painter Chuck Close: “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” Real creative professionals know that creativity isn’t about a spark, or inspired moment. Sure those things happen, but they’re rare and can’t be counted on. Like everything we do in life, the only thing we can count on is that we will move forward if we show up. I’ve read somewhere described simply as “Connecting the seat of your pants to the seat of a chair.”
That’s said, it’s the daily routines and rituals we have that afford us the capacity to step into our creative spaces and those routines and rituals are our key to long term creative productivity. The book “Daily Rituals,” by Mason Currey tells the story of 161 creative professionals throughout history and charts their daily routine. The result is amazing. What I discovered from the list of writers, painters, musicians, and other creatives is that the vast majority were virtual slaves to a daily routine and personal rituals. They created the environment, schedule, and process that worked best for them – and then stuck to it. For example:
Stephen King. This famed writer keeps to a strict routine each day, starting the morning with a cup of tea or water and his vitamin. King sits down to work between 8:00 and 8:30 in the same seat with his papers arranged on his desk in the same way. He claims that starting off with such consistency provides a signal to his mind in preparation for his work.
Haruki Murakami. This popular Japanese novelist sticks to a specific daily schedule that begins at 4:00 when he awakes. He writes for five or six hours, then either runs 10k or swims 1500 meters (or sometimes, both). After his workout, he reads and listens to music until he goes to bed at 9:00. Murakami claims that writing a novel requires both the physical and mental strength that his routine provides.
Gerhard Richter. Famous German artist, Gerhard Richter, sticks to the same basic routine he has for years. He wakes at 6:15 and makes breakfast for his family, then takes his daughter to school. By 8:00 he is in his studio, where he stays until lunch at 1:00. After lunch, he returns to this studio until the evening. He claims that his days are not usually filled with painting, but with the planning of his pieces. He puts off the actual painting until he has created a kind of crisis for himself, then pours himself into it.
Creative Goddess Bath
I have a process I use – most often after a hard week at work – to get me into my creative head space. I call it my creative goddess bath. When I’m planning a night or weekend at the easel, I find this ritual helps me to cleanse myself of the week and remove the grime of the city and ready myself for deep work.
There’s something so fantastic about sinking slowly and deliciously into a hot bath to soak for an hour or so. I always keep pen and paper or my phone handy so I can write down any ideas, inspiration, thoughts, or visions I might get while I’m in the bath.
You can use whatever you have on hand, but I love having essential oils (lavender is wonderful if you’re trying to relax – dilute a few drops in a teaspoon of milk so it disperses through your bath water), Epsom salts, homemade scrubs (ground coffee, brown sugar and coconut oil is a great mix for energizing yourself), crystals, candles, incense, rose petals, sensual or uplifting music, and even a glass of red wine, chocolate covered strawberries, or a hot tea to sip on. Bathing is an incredibly sacred act. It’s healing, feminine and sensual. It makes you feel like a divine goddess, as it should.
This is where you pamper and nourish yourself, indulging in the luxurious feel of the silky, warm water as it glides over your skin, allowing you melt further into yourself. Soaking away the hard edges that have kept you sane through the week. This melting and soaking allows you to relax and surrender. Surrender is where you connect to your authentic and highest self, which is also where ideas and inspiration flow. Surrender is necessary for inspiration to truly take place and allows you to melt into who you are and enable your creative self to flow forth.
I love taking my bathing time to really let myself unravel completely. I daydream, I envision, I create in my mind exactly what I want to cultivate in my life and I focus on bringing that feeling into my body, its often the feelings that bring forth a colour palette or a mood that will be transferred to a canvas. Let that feeling pulse through your entire body. It’s a juicy, arousing feeling and it’s the best way to make your inspiration stick.
I set a timer for this bathing ritual, because without them the process gets wasted and I soak too long and don’t spend time at the canvas. So the melting surrender is balanced with the movement and action toward the work – toward the work of creating.
Start developing your routine
The idea is that you stop working randomly and start developing a routine that you never stop. Great athletes, inventors, artists, writers, and more will tell you that it’s not the creativity that matters – it’s the routine. Because once the ritual is established, the creativity naturally follows.To be fully present in your creative flow, stop working randomly and start developing a routine that you never stop. Click To Tweet
How about you? Certainly, those of us with day jobs have to adapt, but as close as possible, do you have a regular routine for creativity? What rituals do you use? What steps do you follow? Do you first make a cup of tea in a special mug? Angle your lamp just so? Meditate? Set your iPod? Take a walk?
How do you help yourself move closer to creating? How do you set the stage or mark the time or place for your creativity?
What small thing could you do to begin to build toward a special place or ritual to honour your creativity?