While putting together our latest email on the dangers of “how,” I realized that it would be much more helpful to see a process for doing this on paper.
Amber and I both have struggled mightily with the seesaw between thinking and the actual doing. Most artists are quite adept at being perfectionists, which means we’re also adept at not doing our work.
Guilty as charged.
But to be the artist who hunts, we have to be relentless in getting to the work. Nothing. Else. Matters.
So to help you get a little “unstuck,” this is how we approach starting as a daily routine.
Go with a subtle shift here initially. Shave 15 minutes each week until you reach a time that will give you at least an hour of uninterrupted time to create – before the day embraces you with a whitewash of distraction.
My time is 5am on the weekdays and 7am on weekends (I’m very slowly working backwards on this).
Let’s face it – if we don’t make time for our art before the day gets away from us, then it’s likely we won’t make time for it at all.
Do my anchor habit
Huge thank you to Matt Frazier from No Meat Athlete for turning me on to this. His epic post – On Turning Pro – introduced me to the idea of a meta habit, or anchor habit as my friend Taylor and I refer to it.
It correlates with Leo Babauta’s habit building approach, but with an interesting twist. You pick a daily habit that will serve as a motivational anchor for all other habits that you build over time. It is your rock, so to speak. For me, that is a short round of yoga + positive affirmations first thing in the morning. For Amber, it is meditation.
The key is to build your anchor habit to be the trigger for your creative block. It will gradually train your brain to think, “do this, then create.”
Pick one “creating” task
Multitasking is bullshit folks. We all do it, and we all suffer greatly because of it. There is no mystery to this part of the process. I pick a creative task that directly relates to my goals for the week, and I do only that until either it’s complete, or I get to a comfortable stopping point.
This is a critical distinction. While being epic at starting is really important, it’s even more important to become epic at finishing and shipping the work. Don’t fall in love with starting so much that you can’t focus on seeing the work done.
Set a time limit
I prefer to carve out a solid hour for my creative time. If need be, set a timer to beep when the hour passes. Setting limitations is not restrictive. It is actually a necessary restraint to help you combat the inevitable distractions that will pop up.
Shut everything off but the work and the timer. Then, bask in the light of your creating.
That’s it – 4 simple steps to help get to the desk and make art. No magic, no productivity hacking system, no excuses.