I was reading this article about painter and writer Henry Miller, who wrote these 11 commandments of having successful creative and writing routines while he worked on his first published novel, Tropic of Cancer.
1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’
3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5. When you can’t create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.
This list had me thinking of the routines I’ve put in place for myself. I often spend my 3pm slump colour correcting images or answering emails instead of doing creative work. I like to reserve my mornings for tackling creative briefs that require more clarity. I also avoid sending jobs off to print just before 5pm because there’s nothing like a fresh pair of 8am eyes to pick up a typo! Ryan (who is also a designer) says that he likes to work on something that he’s enjoying working on just before leaving the studio so he is inspired for the next day.
I completely agree with number 1. It took me a while to realise that multi-tasking wasn’t such a great thing and that maybe I wasn’t as good as it as I thought! I found that I was getting a lot of things started, but not a lot of things completed. Now I make sure I only work on one job at a time and even though not answering emails straight away, or doing the job that is more fun first, it means that everything gets done.
I always try to get a good eight hours of sleep (yes, eight!) and some exercise during the evenings.
Do you have any creative routines to share?
Image via Suken Treasure, Flickr.