I’ve seen a lot of posts recently on “do this one thing every day…” So I wanted to get in on the fun. There’s only one thing you need to do to create something new every day. I’m almost ashamed to admit this. I’d been trapped in the same quagmire for nearly 30 years beating myself up over not getting anywhere with my writing until this year.
All you have to do is actually create something every day. That’s it. Lesson over. I know. You feel bait-clicked.
But wait, there’s more.
You need to ask yourself why you had to read this. How did you not realize that to create every day, you simply need to create every day? What part of your psyche is not allowing you to create? That’s what you need to think deeply about. What are you afraid of? That you suck? You will. Frequently.
That’s the reason to create every day, it’s the body of work that you’re after, not the single creation. In the midst of you going about your daily creation, brilliance will show itself. Not always, not willingly, but it will show up.
I’m already excited about the body of work I’ve built after just seven months. I’ve written 210,000 words just in my daily writing. That doesn’t take into account the projects that have inspired me to do extra work. All of those ideas have come out of the daily work. But when I look back at what I’ve built, 500-1000 words at a time, I’m amazed at how quickly the work compounds. I’m drawing now, too, and while that’s not an everyday thing, it’s most days. I’ll have the same body of work around that hobby, too.
It makes you feel better
I can tell you, without a doubt, that even with a lot of bad personal things happening this year (my health, my wife’s health, financial troubles) I’m happier than I’ve ever been. That’s because I’ve finally started. I’ve finally realized that in order to get where I want, I had to get the daily habit instilled. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to get up early to do your creating. That’s the way I had to do it, but that’s just what worked for me and fit into my current lifestyle. I’ve adjusted my process several times this year to get where I feel comfortable with it currently. That does take time, but you know what? You have to start to figure out what works. You have to actually try this and that in order to know what does and doesn’t work.
Figure out what works for you
I have a few things that have worked well. Writing in Evernote works great. Collecting ideas in Evernote works great. Writing in Scrivener does not work for my daily writing. I have a decent process to move articles from Evernote to WordPress, but moving from Scrivener to Word, or any other platform has been a challenge for me. I’ll get there, I just have to keep trying something else until I find one that works.
I’m also logging my daily word count, subject, mood and whether the content is blog worthy in a Google Sheet. It’s worked great. It allows me to go back and search last month’s writing and look for subjects. Then I can take the date and go right to that page in Evernote and revisit the subject. The Google Sheet also automatically calculates a daily word average and a yearly cumulative count. Nice. I get rewards every day I work, which is every single day.
This is only what’s worked for me
But again, that’s me. I know my lazy side is just waiting for me to miss a day. Once I do, and it will happen, my lazy side will pop up and tell me how much better I feel, and how missing one day didn’t really matter. So I have to fight that demon every single day. But that’s my struggle. You need to figure out what has been keeping you from the simple create everyday mentality.
There’s no magic bullet
I can offer you no guidance except what you’ve undoubtedly already read. You only get good with regular focused practice. So you need to set yourself up for success by having a regular session to get better. If you wanted to be a concert pianist, you would spend hours practicing, right? If you wanted to compete as a bodybuilder, you would work out a lot, eat a specific diet, and do certain things to maximize your muscle tone. Why do we think becoming a creative is any different? There’s a certain mysticism around creatives. That true genius is a lightning strike. It’s “inspiration” or whatever you want to call it. Even Steven Pressfield, who’s advice I really enjoy, still has a bit of the mystical in his idea of where creation comes from. I’m not sure I buy into that, but it works for him.
I used to have a “lucky” pair of shorts when I played soccer. I know that we are “symbol searchers” as humans. We’re always looking for a sign of what makes us better, and we are quick to give credit to superstition or luck, like my lucky shorts. The shorts weren’t lucky, I just happened to be wearing them on the game of my life, and to recreate that exact day every time I went on the field, I tried to do everything the same way. My mind had convinced me that those shorts were the key. So when I wore those shorts, I was confident.
There is, however, reality
Now I’m confident in two things. One, a lot of my work won’t be great. Two, there will be some that is much better than others. This requires me going back over my work once it’s been sitting for a few weeks to look it over with fresh eyes. I find gems, and I find duds. The goal is to take the gems and polish them. That’s my next great task. I have a tough time going beyond simple editing for grammar. I need to edit for focus, point, and overall progression as well.
Create every single day
But that’s all there is to it. If you want to be a creative person, be creative every single day. Don’t listen to those who tell you it’s OK not to create every day. It’s not. On those days you don’t create, you’ll feel less of yourself. Be yourself every day, that’s all this is. Be your best self, be a little better than the day before. That alone makes sure if you create one day, you’ll create all the rest of them. Think about how much work you’ll have behind you in just one year. I already have 235 daily writings in 2018 alone. I can’t wait until next year. I can’t wait until l have 100 blog posts this year, which should translate into 200 by the end of 2019. That’s a huge amount of work for someone who didn’t have anything a year ago.
No, it doesn’t happen “overnight.” But it does happen much more quickly than you think. We have to get over our need for instant gratification and give ourselves the right to see our own achievements. Get out of your own way, and let your creativity flow every single day. Document the journey, rinse and repeat. It really is that simple.
Please join my growing email list by subscribing here or drop me a note in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
Photo by Nikhil Mitra on Unsplash