The Secret to Finding Creative Liberty

We celebrate our national independence on July 4th, but there’s another freedom we should consider as well – creative freedom. The problem is, creative freedom, like our national freedom comes with a price. I’m currently reading a book called “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.” It’s a fascinating look at how successful creative people design rituals and plan their day to maximize their productivity.  Reading the book, you realize pretty quickly that creativity isn’t about inspiration, it’s about hard work.

Time and time again, each of the writers, musicians, artists, and other creatives have one thing in common – a daily ritual that’s disciplined and rigid. They wake up at the same time, have designated hours for work, create a distraction free environment, and don’t use crutches like alcohol and drugs. Even those who were heavy drinkers learned pretty quickly that they can’t imbibe during work, if they’re serious artists.

I’m reminded of the famous quote from painter Chuck Close:

“Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.  And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will – through work – bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art [idea].’ And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you [did] today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.”

Here’s a suggestion:  Schedule some serious time to plan out your creative schedule.  Develop a ritual that helps you get to work easily and focus more. In other words, do something, and start now.  Otherwise, ten years from now, you’ll still be waiting for that illusive inspiration…

What are the creative rituals that work for you?  Feel free to share them….

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  1. I’m not sure I like this whole idea – the one thing I still have in life that is NOT about rules and schedules and discipline is my creativity – it is my time to love life and not be told how to do it.

    1. That sounds very romantic, but when it comes to actually accomplishing great creative work, I’m afraid you’re in the minority… Plus, it’s not about being told what to do. You figure that out. But without serious effort and discipline, I’m skeptical about the result. The truth is, creativity is serious business…. 🙂

  2. I remember you saying that we need to discipline ourselves to be creative at the YCL, Kolkata… It’s so hard, what with so many ‘other’ things to do… But interestingly, when I do creative work at my workplace, I actually sit, and rack my brains to get that creative work done – like writing a script or designing a newsletter etc.

  3. Yeah agreed. I struggle with this myself a whole lot. I tend to get idea after idea for stories, sitcoms. books, novels, TV shows and so on but find it hard to make time to write these things. The truth is, whatever you want to do or achieve, you’ve got to knuckle down and just work. I needed to hear this today.

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