Craft a routine for creative spontaneity

I’ve often taken pride in a seat-of-the-pants approach. With Indiana Jones as a model – “I’m making this up as I go!”winging it seemed a virtue.

With age, though, I’ve developed an appreciation for order and structure and routine. And I’m far from disciplined in actually applying order to my daily life.

We expect creativity to be mysterious and ecstatic, and we wait for it, hoping it will grab hold of us. We delay, waiting to be inspired.

But it’s been my experience that waiting for inspiration leads to a lot of doing nothing. What if it’s the other way around? What if routine and structure, showing up and taking action regardless of your emotional state, were what summoned the muse?

Here is William James as quoted in the excellent book, Daily Rituals, by Mason Curry:

“The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work. There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation.”

Interestingly, at the time James wrote this he was struggling with the misery of indecision he describes.

As a new school year is beginning, it’s a great time to craft a fresh, new routine for your days. Create a structure of when to arise and exercise and work and eat and read and play and when to turn the lights out. Stick to the schedule. Automate easy decisions, taking them out of your brain and opening space there for more challenging, creative endeavors.

Routine can spark spontaneity. Make a plan, show up consistently, and see if inspiration notices your pattern and begins showing up, too.

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