Showing up daily to work on creative projects, even for a short time, can make a noticeable impact on how many projects you complete and how you feel about yourself as a creative person. I find that being there for my creative projects on the regular keeps me motivated and inspired. Some of the benefits of working on creative projects daily include:
- Maintaining your momentum. Showing up to your projects every day creates a work rhythm that can eventually become a routine. And the routine does not have to be complicated–actually the simpler the better.
- Remembering where you left off. You don’t have to worry about getting reacquainted with your project because you just worked on it yesterday.
- Creating the mental space to think about your projects every day. There is extra room to generate ideas and solve problems even when you are not actually working on your project.
- Attention to details. I’ve noticed that I tend to give more attention to the details of my projects when I show up for them daily. I feel less rushed when I know that I will be back working on the same thing the next day.
- Skill growth. Showing up to your project and your craft daily will help you to consistently improve.
Although working on creative projects daily has a lot of upsides, it’s important to remember that not all projects are created equal. Some projects are perfect for working on one day or a weekend. But then there are those special projects that you would love to show up for day in and day out.
I like asking myself which projects would I like to give the honor of showing up for every day.
What projects do you have that you wish you can show up for consistently?
(P.S. For more about showing up daily in little ways, check out my book The Little Book of Tiny Tasks: Make Your Life More Calm While Getting Things Done 5 Minutes at a Time)
It’s Easy and Not Easy
The general idea is simple.
Pick one project that matters to you and show up for it every day.
But even simple things have real challenges. So here are some of the problems you will probably face when trying to show up for your projects every day:
Time scarcity can be a formidable roadblock to showing up for your projects daily. This can be really difficult when your schedule is full.
The first thing that can make a difference is letting go of all the ideas of what showing up for your project “should’’ look like. When envisioning creating art daily, you may see yourself sitting at a desk and working leisurely as if you have all the time in the world.
I know it’s hard, but let go of that daydream. When you have a busy life, this is not what being creative will look like for you. Allow yourself to make peace with that. Instead, imagine yourself as a creative rebel.
You’re writing your novel on your phone as you wait in line at the grocery store. You wake up ten minutes earlier just to do a sketch. You’re eating lunch and scribbling character dialogue in a notebook at the same time, dropping food crumbs on the pages. When I was in high school, I often wrote parts of novels and designed comic characters in the margins of my class notes when I was bored.
A more structured way of addressing time scarcity is to plan spending 5 to 10 minutes on your project before or after doing something that is a daily habit for you already.
For example, planning to work on your projects 5 to 10 minutes every day before eating breakfast. Besides meal times, other activities that can be good triggers for working on creative projects include:
- Shower or bath time
- After waking up
- Before going to bed
Tying your creative time to something you already do daily will make it easier to build the habit of showing up for the projects that matter to you every day.
You may have to adjust your tools, mediums, and methods to fit working in smaller amounts of time. As a writer, you may have to forego that fancy desktop novel planning app and use a basic notes app on your phone or a small notebook. Artists may have to switch to mediums that are more portable. I dabble in sewing once in a while, and I like learning hand stitching techniques because it enables me to work on my projects even when I’m away from my sewing machine.
So be flexible and open to using different techniques and working at odd times in unusual places.
So you have plans to show up for your creative project every day. But when you pull out your project to work on it, you find that you are suddenly distracted. You want to check your social media and do other things. I’ve been there, and I know the struggle.
One of the most effective ways I’ve found to keep distraction at bay is to keep my time periods of focused work short. If I’m devoting twenty minutes or less to a project, I will make sure that nothing gets in my way. Setting a timer increases the motivation to stay focused even more.
It’s also helpful to have a simple plan. When I sit down to work on a project, I ask myself, ”What are three things I need to do next on this?“
Even if I don’t get to all three items on my list, having a simple map of what I need to be doing helps me to make the time I spend effective.
So if you find yourself showing up for your projects, but being like, ”Um…what should I do?” you probably need a basic plan of what to do next.
The Unpredictability of Life
Unexpected things can derail working regularly on your creative projects and destroy your motivation. Life getting in the way is unavoidable. The best thing you can do is to prepare for it.
Be determined to show up every day, regardless. If you don’t have the twenty minutes you wanted to spend, go for ten or five minutes instead. If you know that sometimes you may not be able to work on your project at home, have a plan of how you can take your project with you.
But regardless of how well you plan, life can still throw off showing up for your work. When this happens, the best thing to do is to get back on the horse as soon as possible. If you can’t make it to your project that day, don’t beat yourself up. Berating yourself only makes it harder to regain your rhythm.
Instead, tell yourself that:
Your project isn’t going anywhere.
And you will show up for it tomorrow.
Keep trying to show up for it again tomorrow, and eventually you’ll get back on track, even if you were thrown off for a while.
And if you feel deep within yourself that you need a break, then go ahead and take one. Although showing up is important, breaks also support you and fill your creative well. Both have a role to play in the creative process.
If you feel like you need a break, but still have a desire to show up for your project, doing some research or daydreaming about where you want your project to go are good alternatives to actively working.
The last hurdle you may face when showing up for your projects daily is feeling blocked. There’s nothing worse than showing up to a project with the intention of getting things done, but feeling stuck.
One thing I’ve found helpful is to journal about how I feel. I often start my journal, ”I feel so stuck right now on —“ and I just keep writing to vent my emotions. Honestly expressing what is bothering me about my project is often enough to get my brain moving.
Another thing that can help is at the end of each session spent on your project, leave it in an unfinished state. So if you’re writing, stop mid-sentence. If you’re painting, stop mid-stroke. Stop on your project in place where you have no choice but to continue when you return.
Doing so will help you to keep moving whenever you show up to work on your project.