Inspiration + Routine + Discipline = Creativity

Every morning I take a cup of coffee outside to my ‘thinking spot’ where I say good morning to the world, reconcile myself to being awake and make tentative plans for my day.

And every morning or the last three days I’ve walked smack into a spider web strung at face level between two trees. Which of us is going to learn? One of us is going to have to. I know it should be me but I rather fear it’s going to have to be the poor old spider.

But that’s by the way.

What’s more interesting to me is that every time now that I come to my ‘thinking spot’, I automatically start thinking. Well, that’s obvious, you’re saying – that’s why you call it your thinking spot, don’t you know? Of course, sure, but it seems to have become even more than that. If I pop out there in the afternoon, say, for a few minutes peace and quiet, or if I go there in the morning as usual, though without any real plan for the day or even knowing where I want to start, then just the act of sitting down in the spot seems to clarify my thoughts and direct them towards my writing and blogging work.

It’s as though I’ve programmed myself to think about certain subjects, just from sitting in the same place a few times and thinking about the same things. Some deep part of my mind now connects these surroundings with those thought processes. Thus, now when I sit there, it’s time to think about work. It’s quite mind-boggling really.

I first discovered this sort of thing years ago when I switched from writing non-fiction to fiction. In an effort to ‘get into the mood’ for writing, and as a transition from thinking about matters of daily life, I would put a certain piece of music on. After a while, when I put that music on, my brain automatically switched to writing mode and I was able to put everything else aside and get stuck in.

It seems strange, I suppose, to say that routine and discipline make up the greatest part of a creative life. Inspiration is needed, for sure, but inspiration happens all the time – walking down the road to the shop, perhaps, seeing someone doing something or saying something that triggers off in the mind a thought of ‘what if?’ These inspirational moments percolate away in the background until they grow into a usable idea (or wither and die, if they turn out to be duds). Then, of course, is when the routine and discipline come into play.

I love routine. I’m willing to put it aside at a moment’s notice and do something different if something special’s on offer, but on the whole routine is a force for the good. Without it, I’d hardly ever get anything done. Especially when you’re working in a creative area like writing (or painting, photography, craft, etc.) if you’re not going to get down to business and put the work in, no amount of inspiration is going to help.

Then there’s the problem that inspiration doesn’t happen every day, but that book still needs the next chapter written. If you have a routine, then you’re sitting down at much the same time every day, blank page in front of you, and before you know it, you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. The ideas are flowing, the words are appearing, the muse is whispering in your ear. If you hadn’t sat down with the intention of writing (or whatever), that muse wouldn’t have known where the hell to find you and your important creative work wouldn’t be getting done.

Of course, you have to develop discipline to form that routine, that self-programming that says it’s writing time now, get in the mood baby, listen up for the muse, she’s looking for you. Attempting work of a creative nature is an intimidating thing. It’s damn scary to face that blank page, that empty canvas. Nothing happens there unless you create it. Makes for a lot of pressure, doesn’t it? So how sensible then, to make a routine for yourself that eases that pressure a little, that takes you to the place in your mind where the creative juices can flow.

And tomorrow, I swear I’m going to remember that spider is there.

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About Kate Genet

I'm a writer, storyteller and an exerciser of a very stretchy mind. I believe in curiosity, wonder and teaching my mind to do back flips.

Posted on January 28, 2011, in Seducing the Muse. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. My shower is my thinking spot. ^^ Mostly because it’s the only spot I can have at least a few moments to myself without someone popping their head in to check on me. I mean sheesh…

  2. I know exactly what you mean! Another good one for me is when I’m doing the dishes – no one in the whole house will come near me then. I’ve come not to mind though, I have some of my best story ideas either in the shower or while doing the dishes. I thought for a while it might be some magical property in the water – but far more likely to be the fact of being left alone!

  3. I adore this post! It has me thinking about those routines that I lost, and it’s probably not helping me focus on my writing…working toward routine/security now. Hopefully I’ll be back into my groove soon. Thank you for always providing food for thought.

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