We’re a couple of weeks into 2022, which means people everywhere are abandoning New Year’s resolutions left and right. Maybe that’s you and maybe it’s not, but either way, this time of the year has me thinking about habits and practices. Three practices in particular have made a marked, positive difference in my creative health. None of them are groundbreaking, and plenty of people wiser than I have suggested them in the past, but they have helped me quite a lot.
Establish and sustain accountability
For me, this looked like joining a certain podcast about creative growth. Prior to joining Coffee and Creatives, I had gone over a year without finishing a single song. I’d written lyrics here and there, but I hadn’t followed through on anything. Then, all of a sudden, I had people asking me every week or two how my songwriting was going, and I had to tell them something. During the process of recording season four, I think I finished five songs. The difference in my creative output was night and day.
On Thursdays, I don’t leave my apartment. If someone asks me to do something on a Thursday, I either ask if we could pick a different day, or I just say no. I make exceptions to this occasionally (Buffalo Wild Wings has Buy One, Get One boneless wings on Thursday nights), but in general, Thursday evenings are for staying home and resting. I make a point on these nights of doing things I want to do, rather than doing things I have to do. I started this practice because I felt like my life was being consumed by the things I had to do, and I was feeling not only overwhelmed but also resentful toward a lot of my commitments. Taking one night a week to rest gives me something to look forward to each week, and it also helps me to have a better attitude about the things I have to do for the rest of the week.
Candidly, I can’t really draw a direct line from this practice to my creative health, but I can absolutely draw a line from this practice to my mental and emotional health. Mental and emotional health are sometimes overlooked aspects of creative health, because we have this wildly unhealthy idea that artists must be miserable. That’s just not true at all. Even with the accountability I talked about above, I think I would have had a tough time being creative if I had constantly been feeling run down and bitter toward life.
Art inspires art. I can’t tell you how many songs of mine have been sparked by me listening to an existing song, or the work of a particular artist, and thinking, I’d really like to make something that feels like this. As simple (and maybe silly) as it sounds, listening to music reminds me that songwriting exists as a pastime and that it can produce really cool things. It also inspires me to try new things, explore new genres, and push myself as a songwriter. This applies, I think, to pretty much every medium. If you’re a writer, read. If you’re a painter, look at some paintings. Follow your favorite artists on Instagram so that art becomes a part of your daily scrolling. Listen to your Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify to hear music you’ve never heard before. Make art part of your life, and it will inspire you to create.
If you’re in a creative rut, maybe folding some or all of these practices into your life will help. I intend to keep them up, and whether it’s through these practices or something else entirely, I wish you an abundance of creative health in the new year.