Charlotte Rains Dixon  

8 Different Creative Practices

Californie_angel_california_82523_hSince I haven't been able to write blog posts this week, I've been spending more time on my other writing—like my beloved novel and short stories.   And this, in turn, has made me think more about the value of establishing good creative practices.  And recently, I've come across some different kinds of practices I thought you might be interested in.   Here are my suggestions:

Write 1K Words a Day. Yeah, I know this is not necessarily anything new. But a consistent writing practice is the basis of everything else you do. I see you picking up things to throw at me. This is far and away the hardest practice to establish—and the most rewarding. It makes you feel like a writer, it piles up the pages of a project, it keeps your WIP in your brain all the time. If 1,000 words seems a bit much, start smaller—start with 10 if that's what works for you! But do try it.

Create a Log Book. I recently read Austin Kleon's book, Steal Like an Artist, and because he told me to, I'm stealing this idea. Anyway, I love it and have started doing it myself. Rather than worry about a journal entry, just do a list of things that happened each day. (He includes cute drawings, but I'm not much of an artist so I don't.) As he explains, its important to be able to look back at where you've been and what you've accomplished—and it's a lot of fun. Try making this your first-thing-in-the-morning-practice, and list the events of the day before.

Use a Bullet Journal. This little baby has been life changing for me. No, I'm not exaggerating. It corrals all my thoughts, ideas, plans, and to-dos all in one place in a way that makes sense and so that I can access them easily. It's an analog journal you create yourself—and you can find out everything you need to know to make one here. 

Doodle a Day. I'm an inveterate doodler. In meetings, on the phone, chatting with friends, it's likely I have a pen in hand and am using it to make spirals and other shapes on the page. I know it helps me focus, but I've always felt vaguely guilty about it. And then I read in Kleon's book that doodling is a good thing. Why? Because its part of the process of getting your work out into the world. So try creating a more intentional doodle to loosen yourself up before you start writing.

Be Happy. Yes, you can make the decision to be happy rather than full of angst. And, no, you don't have to be tortured to be an artist. It's a damaging myth that you have to unhappy to write. Quite the opposite is true actually. Because if you're upset about something, isn't it nearly impossible to focus on your writing? So, yeah, make it a creative practice to be happy.

Be Boring. I stole this one from Kleon's book, too. And I've often thought the same thing about my life—when I'm writing regularly I'm happy as I can be, but I'm also boring. People ask me what's going on and I answer, "I wrote 1,000 words every day this week." Um, not so fascinating. But fantastic for productivity. I'm much more interesting when things are falling apart—and much less productive.

Fall in Love. When I'm writing regularly, I'm in love with my writing and I'm in love with my life, too—even when it is boring. And I've learned that it is entirely possible to fall in love with my writing even when I think I'm not. Hint: one way this happens is when you commit to working on it regularly. You how when you're in love with someone you want to see them all the time? Same thing with writing. So cultivate an attitude of love for your writing and it will lead to more writing.

Keep it Simple. I was reading a novel awhile ago and I realized what a simple story it was. I liked the story a lot—and this was when I learned that a story doesn't have to be complicated to be good. Just like life. Keep it simple.

And yeah, if you thought you detected a theme here, you would be correct—and that would be a theme of simplicity. The older I get, the more I realize that we humans like to complicate things, just because we can. So look for ways to simplify wherever you can—it will improve your writing. 

Do you have a regular creative practice that you cultivate?  Please share!  

0 thoughts on “8 Different Creative Practices

  1. Zan Marie

    I’m all in on the log book! Mine is just for writing tasks. It keeps me focused and writing because I know that at the end of the day, I have to “log in” and be honest with myself. And I’m the toughest taskmaster I’ll ever have.

    Go and be creative should be your motto, Charlotte. 😉

  2. Charlotte Dixon

    I’m a sucker for log books, or journals, or to-do lists, also, as you can probably tell by my list of creative practices! Sounds like you have developed a perfect system for yourself.

  3. Charlotte Dixon

    Glad you enjoyed the picture. And it is great to be back! Comments were down for awhile this morning but all is well now.

  4. Leigh Lauck

    Loved this post, Charlotte. The advice about establishing a regular writing practice – be it ten or ten thousand words a day – is golden. I am still working to get myself to that stage, but I am totally sold on its merits. I am happier when I’m writing regularly. Period.

    And the part about “being boring” cracked me up! My husband comes home from work most nights to find me staring glazed at the computer. “I wrote 2,000 words today!” Bless him, he does his level best to match my enthusiasm. But yeah, what’s exciting for me is yawn inducing for normal folk. They’re not kidding when they say writing is a solitary pursuit.

    Glad your blog is back in action!

  5. Charlotte Dixon

    Thanks, Leigh! And I’m so glad you can relate to the “being boring” bit. It’s simply not in any way exciting to talk about your word count–except among us writing nerds (and on 10K day). Sounds like you are making great strides towards a regular writing practice!

  6. Don Williams

    Great points, and many I never about such as cooling, something I absolutely love to do anyway. Especially nice knowing I don’t have to feel guilty in the process is a bonus too! The point of simplicity is also a major point that I strive for in everyday and not only in writing. It helps, I guess, that I’m simple minded to begin with too.

  7. Sandra Pawula

    I love that the Bullet Journal has changed your life. Keeping everything in one place makes a big difference for me too. These days I’m finding that breaking things down into little pieces works for getting going and finishing a writing project.

  8. Charlotte Dixon

    I aim for simplicity, too, as mentioned, and sometimes I seem to accomplish just the opposite! But I guess being aware of it is half the battle. I just wrote my log book for yesterday and it was a very simple, some would say boring, day. Yay!

  9. Charlotte Dixon

    And you’re using the bullet journal, too. Sounds like you like it also. Sometimes when I’m struggling to finish a task or project I look at it and realize I’ve not broken it down into manageable steps so I’m overwhelmed. It helps so much.

  10. Julie

    I loved Austin Kleon’s book (and am currently being inspired by another one of his: “Show Your Work”)

    But I have to say I really liked your last two points: Fall in love; and Keep It Simple.

    I just passed my 19th wedding anniversary, so you’d think I’d be familiar with the idea of being in love even when you’re not thinking about it, but I hadn’t thought about it relating to my writing. Just showing up is a big win!

    And Keep It Simple? That’s like looking at a mirror in a mirror! Simple advice that made me slap my forehead and go “duh!”. It certainly takes some of the fear out of sitting down to write!

    Great post!

  11. Charlotte Dixon

    I’ll have to check out his other book. I got “Steal Like an Artist” from the library and frankly didn’t expect much. But I ended up loving it.

    Thanks so much for commenting and congratulations on being married 19 years. That’s an accomplishment! Yes, much like marriage, just showing up regularly is a big win–and it makes the love stronger.

    And I am the Queen of Complexity! I’m working on mastering simplicity–which is why I write about it.

  12. Zan Marie

    To be honest, Charlotte, that bullet journal would be a great way to procrastinate for me. I’d soak up time that I could count as productive with all the time it would take me to do it. LOL!

  13. Charlotte Dixon

    This is a test reply–I replied to your comment from my gmail account, too. This is how I always answered comments before the big crash and it no longer appears to be working, which is what I’m testing.

    It took me some time to set up the bullet journal and I probably procrastinated while doing so. But now its the opposite for me, as it gives me a place to put all my little bits of information in. But I can see why you might worry about it–the bullet journal is compelling.

  14. Charlotte Dixon

    It took a bit of time to get it set up, but now it is my repository for everything–to-dos, lists, books I want to read, anything I want to keep track of.  Before the bullet journal, I had papers with important notes all over my desk so its been a big help to me.  At first, it might have served as a procrastination tool, but now it helps me be productive!

  15. Angie Dixon

    I tried to comment earlier but it wouldn’t let me 🙁

    I write 1,000 words (usually a lot more) every day because it makes me happy. It’s pretty boring, but I’m happy. I also keep track of my words, because I feel better when I know what I’ve done. That makes me happy, too. In fact, basically everything I do is for the purpose of being happy 🙂

  16. Charlotte Dixon

    Yes, I think maybe comments are still a bit wonky. Thanks for taking the time to come back.

    Love, love, love your comment. Because, even the Dalai Lama says we are here for the purpose of being happy. And ultimately, I believe that’s why most of us write–because it makes us happy. But then it gets all bound up in worrying about polishing and publishing and all that. So it is refreshing to hear you say such a simple reason why you write your 1K words a day!

  17. Yikes! I know I’m late for this post. On the other hand, this is some classic stuff so it’s not gonna get stale just because it’s a few days old.

    I can relate to your passion for introducing a simple but powerful practice. I’ve been working on a new practice of goal-setting and subconscious reinforcement that I’m excited about. I’ve been doing it for several weeks now, every morning, and it’s a wonderful way to start the day. Plus it has forced me to clarify my goals instead of leaving them rattling around inside my head. And I can feel myself actually living the goals, in baby steps. My new practice is one of the best things I’ve done so far this year!

  18. I’ve tried on two different days to leave a comment but it got whooshed away. Anyway, loved the post!

  19. Charlotte Dixon

    That’s a wonderful idea, Milli. I don’t review my goals every day, but since the start of this year I’ve been writing quarterly goals and then breaking them down into monthly goals, which has been a fantastic practice for me. This is something I use my bullet journal for. And as far as I’m concerned, it is never too late to comment on a post!

  20. Charlotte Dixon

    Gotcha covered–thank you for continuing to try. I don’t know why it is Typepad’s spam filters seems to single out certain commenters, but please don’t take it personally!

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