Thoughts on Developing a Creative Practice

Over the last decade of diving into how we humans can return to creativity later in life, one thing has always eluded me (or is it perhaps one thing I've been resisting?).

It is the question of whether we need to have a dedicated daily or weekly practice in order to truly deepen into our creativity.

I've always leaned toward 'no', seeing as though I consider myself a lifelong creative and I have never had a consistent practice. I would always ride the ebb and flow of my inspiration and curiosity while releasing any tensions, or built up energy, through writing and scribbling. But this past year has got me thinking that I may be wrong.

Being my naturally curious self, my mind begins to wonder about the differences between my new martial arts dedicated practice, and my lifelong 'do-when-I-feel-like-it' creative practice.

At the beginning of every karate class the students say a creed that ends with: "We are dedicated! We are motivated! We're on a quest to be our best!" For almost two years I've been hearing my kids and the others shout this at the top of their lungs three times a week. It makes it easy for me to tell my girls that we're dedicated and going anyway when they whine about not being in the mood to go to the dojo. Hence, when I decided to step into the practice myself this past March, it felt only natural to promise that I'd show up to every class unless I had a really good reason to miss it.

There were many times at the beginning of my martial arts journey that I wanted to skip class. I was too tired, or too sore, or just not in the mood... but I forced myself to go anyway - because of the promise I made myself, but also because I didn't want my kids seeing it was okay to skip it whenever they felt like it.

So I continued to show up week after week, and eventually the showing up got easier. It became more habitual, more 'normal'. (Well, maybe not normal based on how obsessive I've become!) Now, it's just something we DO. It's part of our life that's inseparable from us.

And yet...

When we took off for a two week vacation to my Aunt's beautiful home, with karate gear in tow and full intentions of practicing often... we ended up only doing it once. Even though we had plenty of time and space to do what we will.

It just goes to show: inspiration and willingness aren't always enough to get you into action.

I used to think I just wasn't inspired enough to create when I wasn't feelin it, so I'd wait it out. Many times creative bursts would return, but this last dry spell has been stretching far and wide. I actually did find inspiration here and there over the last few months. And I do have the desire to explore the path of drawing... but it has yet to happen. Perhaps all that's missing is my will to make it happen with a dedicated practice.

Always in curiosity and love,


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  1. Kristal, I enjoyed this post very much, it spoke to me. I have been a ‘when the mood strikes’ watercolorist for several years now. When I’m not painting I torture myself with the ‘shoulds’. I collect lots of information on how to but can’t get in gear to be consistent for more than a couple of weeks. Your post has excited me to give a daily practice a go, again! So thanks! I’ll be back to your site and check in

  2. Linda Spencer says

    Kristal, Thank you for your story on Dedicate Creative time. I have always been a person with many desires to improve myself. I desire to teach myself different painting techniques, but have not been disciplined. My biggest desire now is to have an Intimate Relationship with God. It took me awhile but I did realize that any relationship required commitment and communication. I now have a dedicated time each morning to spend with God. I read, pray and spend this time writing my thoughts to God. I have even learned that through my writing God speaks to me. He is awesome and I wouldn’t be developing this intimate relationship with out dedicated commitment.

  3. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of a daily (or even weekly) practice. But I’ve been stuck in the “once in a blue moon” mode of being creative. Whenever I try to start a practice, all the brain gremlins start to jabber saying things like “you’re not good enough” “you have other things you should be doing” “you’re supposed to be doing….(fill in the blank)”
    But I keep trying. One of these days, I’ll get there.

    • Oh yes, those inner gremlins are quite annoying and can really stop you in your tracks! Keep trying! The key is to compassionately separate from them. If you’d like some help in how to navigate that, we’ll be exploring the voices within during my ROOTS program that starts next month. :)

  4. Lori Gagnon says

    I have had a daily creative journaling practice since 2013. It fed many other creative activities. This year it was interrupted by a health crisis in March. I did not start up my practise again until Aug 1. During the time with no practise I did very little creative anything. Part of that was having to spend so much time lying down. It left my brain clogged and spirit low, at a time when I was already fighting being scared and depressed about my lack of physical wellness. As I have stabilized physically, I have returned to my daily practice with so much gratitude for the emotional wellness and sense of satisfaction it brings me. I still have health issues and a long road with that ahead of me. I am so thrilled to be well enough to return to a regular creative practise again because it supports me in so many ways.

  5. So relate! Thanks for coming back out:) I’m in the camp that believes daily spiritual and creative practices brings me incredible sanity, strength, joy, courage, compassion and clarity and I cannot emotionally and physically afford to not be dedicated. And yet!…I too haven’t been keeping up with my practices. I think it comes down to a) when I wake up to these realizations get back on it without making myself bad and b) get real about what tools I need to stay the course….very likely it involves people including an on line course (like Roots), groups, buddies or whichever as I don’t think I or anyone can do it alone. When I took Roots, I appreciated just making a few marks on a page and was recently thinking of applying that concept to my creative dance practice. So here goes…today will be day 1 of a 30 day commitment to my spiritual practice and making even just one creative movement or mark a day, especially the scribbly inner child versions. I will journal about the experience and I will share my progress with my women’s group weekly. I will also let this group know how it’s going. Here’s to keeping the healthy balance between the Yin and Yang.

    • WooHoo!!! It’s so powerful to say your commitment ‘out loud’. Cheering you on!!! And I think I’m going to join you! I love that you made your commitment small an do-able… just one tiny movement or mark a day. The ladies in the Soul Circle community and I have found this approach to be quite helpful in keeping a practice going. I agree, having others to share in the experience/practice is so helpful as well. And the ‘not making myself bad’ thing… oh yes!

  6. I am a fiber artist. I try to spend a bit of time each day on creative endeavors. Sometimes I spend three to four hours in my studio. Sometimes I just spend a few minutes doing meditative stitching. Sometimes, I spend time looking through old photos, hoping for inspiration. Today, I spend a couple of hours hand dying fabric for future projects. I just feel better when I have creative time.

  7. Hi Kristal, I spent a few weeks connecting with you and the friends a few months back. We talked about ways to remind ourselves how important our creative drive is. I made an informal note to self…..10 minutes…. and tucked it to hang on the windowsill above the kitchen sink. Aiming for at the least ten minutes of creativity a day. Since, I slid away but have not been able to discard the note….and I keep thinking about your transparent post…..and I think love, to lean into love on all levels and keep on trucking, packin’ in a few breaks to re energize but keeping the schedule form ahead …I am gonna get back in with at least 10 minutes a day… you said….even if it is just three brush strokes…….or an impromptu improvised song or dance……10 minutes….thank you SO much for this…..and thanks to all my sister souls……much love and fullness……

  8. I do not have a dedicated practice of doing art, but like you I ponder if I should. Like you I do it when I feel like it. And like you some times weeks and even months go by without doing anything. I’m also exhausted when I get home from work and can’t seem to motivate myself enough to do anything. However I am looking forward to Inktober. I participated last year and to my surprise I was able to complete the challenge with a drawing a day and was motivated for quite some time afterwards to keep creating. But I slowly fell back into my usual routine. But I’ve also learned that if I force myself to be creative, I tend to be less satisfied with the outcome. So the dilemma continues.

    • Interesting thoughts Joy. I’m also wondering if you’re perceiving there to be less satisfaction with outcomes only because there is more opportunity to like/dislike something? Or are you only referring to those moments when you showed up for the practice when you didn’t feel like it? Forcing doesn’t feel good for me either. I’ve decided to dedicate myself to simply showing up for the practice, then see where it leads. I liked Miki’s approach in her comment above where she does different things depending on her mood. :)

  9. Hi Kristen!!
    Awhile back we did a practice of “5 minutes a day” work in our magical playbooks. Those 5 minutes sometimes turned into 15, 30 minutes or even an hour. It was fun to show up to post what we were all doing & progressing on a project. Was Colleen the one leading that? I could lead that if you’d like. I was thinking of doing it for 1 week (5 days) every month. Sometimes that 5 mins is all we have to sneak in something creatively good for our soul.
    Talk with you soon

    • I’m soo sorry. I thought this was a message from a different group. Please forgive me. Use my idea if it works for you.

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