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Boost Your Creativity With a Daily Habit


“Share something small everyday.” -Austin Kleon, Show Your Work

I’ve been wanting to stoke my creativity for a while.  Frankly, it started long before I said that I’m becoming an artist . . . whatever the hell that is . . . but I didn’t do anything about it for a long time.

One day I started looking around and back through my life for ideas of what I want to create.  My problem isn’t that I’m at a loss for ideas.  The challenge is that I feel like I have too many and I get lost without a solid purpose.

Here . . . this is kind of what happens:

First, you make a decision about what you want to pursue.  Let’s say you decide that you’re going to make pretty thingys.  That means you start to think (believe) you’ll going down a specific creative path.  You think to yourself, awesome, this is it!  I’m going to be a pretty thingy maker.  The next morning you wake up and realize that doubt crept in while you were sleeping.  You start thinking that maybe, you want to make something else as well.  Not only do you want to make thingys, you also want to make thingymabobbers.  All of a sudden you don’t know what to do and sometimes that’s all you need for paralysis to creep in and you end up making nothing.

I’ve moved towards accepting that the themes tying my ideas together can be hard to see in advance.  Rather than deciding on the big idea up front, I’m going to move towards some unknown idea through habit and practice.  In Psychology speak, I’m trying to leverage self-signaling to move down the desired path.  From a practical standpoint, I need to reinforce creativity on a daily basis through a Daily Creative Habit.

The goal of a Daily Creative Habit is to have accountability for doing something.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Time is arbitrary, but humans tend to like order so I’m going to start with a one year habit.  Even if I never make the same thing again after a year, I believe I’ll learn something about design, persistence, and the act of creating variations that will benefit future projects and stoke new ideas.  I don’t know the specific benefits at this point, but I’m sure there will be benefits.

The one year creative quest or daily habit isn’t a new idea.  I watch a lot of TED talks and I came across a couple of videos where artists developed a daily habit.  I thought I could certainly do that, but do I want to?

Ted Talk #1 – How Doing A Drawing a Day Changed My Life – David Litchfield

Ted Talk #2 – Building an Artists Life – Jolie Guillebeau

The idea of daily art isn’t just on TED though.  Matt Kenney is a woodworker who made a box a week for a year and ended up with 52 boxes.  They’re gorgeous.  Check them out here.

Stain Korntved Ruud hand carved a spoon a day for a year.  Read more about it here.

Rather than jump at the first idea that pops into my mind, I decided to make a list.  I guess I ended up with two lists.  The lists have a range of creative habits.  Some of them are daily habits and some are weekly.  I’ve broken them out because I know I have at most 45 minutes a day to devote to the activity.  As a result, some are better suited to a weekly schedule and others could be a daily activity.

Daily Creative Habit Ideas:

  1. Small Abstract Painting – Use a 5×8″ journal or some other small format
  2. Succulent Drawings
  3. Outdoor Photos
  4. Short Blog Posts On Assorted Topics . . . say 500 words or less
  5. Casework Daily Design
  6. Furniture Design
  7. Wooden Sign Idea – make one a week
  8. Geometric Nature Design – take basic shapes and make nature images
  9. Prints From Organic Objects (Leaves, etc)

Weekly Creative Habit Ideas:

  1. Single Tree Stencil Wood Wall Art (52 of the same tree shape)
  2. Multiple Tree Stencil Wood Wall Art
  3. Outdoor Inspired Wood Wall Art
  4. Cutting Boards
  5. Meditation Benches
  6. Small Stools
  7. Sitting or Entry Way Benches
  8. Antique/Vintage Inspired Signs
  9. Sunburst Painted Wood Wall Art
  10. Bandsaw Boxes

Beyond Ideas and Action

Growth and self-improvement are benefits to taking time every day for a creative habit, but keeping a creative activity in the closet isn’t enough.  In order to really benefit from the daily habit, the habit should be shared with the world.  Through sharing you get feedback, find others who enjoy similar activities, and increase accountability.

To fully leverage the habit, I’ll be sharing activity pictures on Instagram.  And that scares the hell out of me for what I’m sure is some totally unfounded reason.

Synergy and Ambition

As I got towards the end of writing this post, I started to feel extra ambitious.  I thought, hey, I can combine my ideas and do two!  I’ll pick up the daily habit of writing a short blog post because I “feel” like I’m a writer and I’ll combine it with a weekly creative post.  I’m still deciding what object to make for the weekly post, but I’m sure the idea will come soon.

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