Help! Implementing Structure to Promote Creativity


Today's post is not one where I'm going to offer tips and advice, but more of an open debate on an issue I really struggle with- that is, how much structure should exist in the creative process?

There's a rather romantic notion that artists live a life free of rules, deadlines, and to-do lists. Or that a truly creative mind will only be hindered by such structure. To a certain degree, I believe this. I always have my best ideas when I can be my most open.

The things is, I don't actually know anyone that has financial success without the rigidity of scheduling, budgets, etc. In fact, many, if not all, creative professionals stick to an extremely regular routine, claiming it's the only way they would ever make tangible strides in their work. The routine seems to be the distinguishing factor between a creative person and a creative professional.

And yet, even though this is really my one and only goal in life- to create a sustainable creative career- I still find it absolutely dreadful to work within the confines of a routine. My day job, my writing, my housework- I am fine with having structure in all of these areas. Tasks to complete, time in which to complete them, etc. For the most part, I've got that down. But when it comes to creating art, it's a different story. If I tell myself I will draw/paint/sew whatever for one hour, or even 15 minutes, every day, I suddenly feel suffocated by the whole process. Does anyone relate to this?

I am told maintaining the continued repetition, and even the misery that may come from it, is where the magic starts to happen. That finding that certain song or tea or whatever it is that gets your brain into the zone is key to controlling the tap on your creative faucet, so to speak. My question is how do I get to that place when every time I add parameters in the form of regular timed intervals, I find myself staring at a pad of paper and wanting to bang my head against a wall?

This is going to be a continued focus of mine over the next several weeks on this blog. I set my word of intention for 2016 as "NOW." As in quit thinking about the plans, the process, the details, and just start moving your hands. Just make. Just do. Now. And I think now is precisely the time I need to conquer this mundane beast once and for all.

So, dear reader, I am kindly requesting your suggestions as to how to successfully implement routine into your creative work. Do you have a daily work routine? Have you ever struggled in this way? Did you have a moment where it all clicked? Is there anything specific that has worked for you? Any comments/suggestions/shared pain are welcome and appreciated. I promise to share any enlightenment I may find on this not-yet-successful-but-determined journey in future posts.