Routine and Creativity Are Not Enemies.
Updated: Feb 18, 2022
Routine. That simple word has a loaded history for me.
When I was younger I fancied myself a true free spirit. And free spirits are, well, free! They eschew anything normal, or at all tied to the dreaded word "routine". I was different! I was a creative! I bristled when I heard the "r" word. Shiver. I had a "not-the-same-thing-every-day-I-will-die-a-death-from-boredom" reaction to that word. It was worse than any curse word I was forbidden to say.
To me routine meant having to go to bed at the same time every night and then wake up at the same time every morning. It meant finishing my homework every damn day. It was doing the dishes, again. It was paying bills and getting a job to pay those bills and dying a slow death behind a desk doing work with no meaning. I saw routine as something that stopped me from being creative and having fun and embracing life.
So if you had asked me then to meet at the same place each day to dance wildly on a cliff surrounded by monkeys riding unicycles, I would have replied "heck no! I don't do routine!" I could not see past that dreaded word to the possibilities it could provide.
It took a while for me to embrace the idea that doing something regularly could be helpful and even fun. That I would get better at something if I developed a habit, a practice, and yes, even a (shudder) routine around it.
Three things helped me change my mind.
One, I started doing morning pages after first going through Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. I wrote every day. The more days I wrote, the lighter I felt.
Two, I hiked every day. I was living near the Sandia Mountains then, and I made time most every afternoon to traipse around the trails. Even a few minutes brought me joy and peace and mental space.
Three, I started meditating. When I meditated every day, I noticed calm inside of me. I was able to be present for relationships in a deeper way.
I still cannot imagine sitting in an office doing the same tasks every day. It's just now how my brain is built. But I no longer conflate routine with the death of my soul. I now preach routine. I encourage everyone to practice creativity every day. Every day. Each and every day. Because I know how powerful the results can be. I know it will make you happier, and bring more satisfaction to your relationships. I know that you will be more inspired and have new ideas coming to you when you need them to (and sometimes when you don't). I know how important it is to get out of our structured brains, and away from the constant inundation of information our devices provide us.
I know the freedom that a little routine brings us.
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