5 Steps to Starting a New Creative Habit
Creativity is good for your soul. Your heart. Your body and brain. And with all the time we're spending on social media and the Internet, endless creative inspiration is always around us. While I adore the ability to see works from artists around the world, find a quote of inspiration at just the right moment and be able to peek into someone's home at any given moment, all this consumption can lull us into thinking that we, ourselves, were actually creative that day. But actually creating with your hands, your heart and your mind has so many proven benefits for your overall health and wellbeing.
Mentally, it reduces stress and increases joy and happiness, all while increasing problem solving + innovative thinking. Physically, it boosts your immune system and lowers cortisol levels, so good in today's always-on world. Emotionally, it helps you to be more curious, present, and connected to daily life. Armed with all this good news, who's ready to jumpstart their own creative habit?
Today, I'm sharing my five best tips for taking the scary out of making art to help you restart your creative journey.
1. Get Organized + Stocked. Being able to sit down and just get started smoothly is key to getting excited about making art. Gather your materials — pencils, markers, crayons, paints, whatever paper you have around your space — collect them, organize them by type and find a particular spot to display them close to where you'll be making art.
For me, this is a corner in my kitchen. I keep brushes, pencils and markers displayed in vases and vessels on the countertop — almost as a beautiful reminder to make in any moments I have. Other tools — paints, paper, markers are stored neatly in a cabinet ready for easy access.
The set up is an invitation to calm your mind and start your practice. Make it special and keep it visible. Pick a spot, gather your materials and make it inviting.
2. Set a Timer, Work Small. Start with short and small daily doses of creativity. Start with 10-15 minutes at the beginning, during a time of day you're likely to stick to. Most days, I do mine first thing, with a cup of coffee or tea, before the crazy of my day sets in.
Work on small surfaces. I find these Strathmore 5" x 7" sheets to be perfect for most materials and a daily practice. The small size is approachable and easy to fill in a quick time.
Start small. Start doable. Keep it consistent. Start today.
3. Do It for the Process, Not the Outcome. The goal of daily practice, or any creative habit in my book, is to enjoy the process. As you know by now, a creative practice increases joy + purpose and invites connection and reflection. It quiets anxiety and reduces stress. By calming your mind and focusing on the process, you'll experience these moments of joy and fun daily — which will begin to carry over into the rest of your day.
That is the point.
The outcome? The actual art you make? Sometimes it might be terrible. Other times it might be great. Either way, not the point.
Focus on the process and the benefits. Let the art just be.
4. Set an Intention for Your Practice. Having an intention, beyond another daily to-do, is key to committing to a new habit. For creative habits, in particular, connect to the emotion you are seeking to invite.
Joy? Connection? Fun? Calm?
Whatever you're seeking in life, bring it into your creative practice. Choose materials, colors, and inspiration that sparks that emotion for you.
Creating daily can be a natural check-in to the emotion and connection you are pursuing. Starting each session, reminding yourself of WHY you choose to practice creativity is a great motivator to just keep going.
5. Cheat, Copy, Collect. At the start, sitting down to a blank piece of paper can be scary, overwhelming, intimidating. I suggest keeping a bank of inspiration on hand to influence your work.
Start a Pinterest board of favorite art pieces. Snap photos everywhere you go of color combinations, patterns, shapes and other interesting findings you might want to explore in your art.
Study, really study, your favorite artists + pieces. Make note of the colors, the shapes, the movement and seek to bring more of it into your own work.
Collect coasters, stamps, paper, fabric, cards, gift wrap, magazine swipe — anything that might inspire you in your art journey.
Your work will NEVER look exactly like the inspiration, and since we're in this for the practice and not to sell our work — it's okay to seek inspiration and influence from as many sources as needed as you get started. Soon you'll figure out your style, color combinations you love, and begin to be more free and liberal in your work.
But for now, cheat, copy, steal. Just don't make a life habit of it.
Every human is creative. We were all born to make.
Each of us is unique in our lives. In our art. In our approach to creativity.
So go, get making.
Make your marks. Share your art. Build your joy, your health, your connections.
Go, go, go!
Jill Elliott is a creative writer, artist, and founder of The Color Kind she seeks to inspire others to live creatively every day. She can often be found making art and messes alongside her 8-year-old daughter and Goldendoodle puppy.