Shaking up your creative habit


While it’s vital to have a regular habit of creating, I’ve been reminded over the past couple of weeks that it’s important that I don’t become too routine about my creative routine.

I write approximately six days a week (and although I usually take Sundays “off”, I almost always do morning pages on Sundays anyway because they’re kind of a compulsion for me).

My typical routine has been to get up, take a shower, walk down the street to get coffee, then come back home and write at my dining room table.

But lately, this habit has begun to feel really mundane to me. Like the habit itself is encroaching on the writing and causing it to feel less fresh.

So I’ve started shaking it up a little.

I’ve written stretched out on the floor on my stomach, propped up on my elbows, notebook spread before me (my cat, intrigued by my unusual writing stance, took this opportunity to jump on my back and give me a kitty massage).

I’ve written sitting on a bench at a nearby park, to the sounds of kids playing around me.

I pulled out my journal and jotted down some images that were coming to me while waiting in the car for my boyfriend to come out of the drugstore.

I’ve gone to the library and savored the intense quiet and the smell of the pages of old books.

I sat cross-legged in the backyard, notebook balanced in my lap, the boughs of trees overhead creating a sheltering dome, writing to the sounds of sparrows, robins and squirrels fighting over the bounty the mulberry tree provides for them.

What has this done for my writing? For me?

It’s reminded me that I am a physical being with a connection to the earth. That a lot of wisdom resides in my body, and that when I sit for long periods of time at a computer, I can get wildly out of touch with that fact. When my posture is rigid, my jaw clenched, I feel very serious. And the writing I’m most connected to does not usually come from a place of “serious.” I can afford to dial back the “serious,” and dial up the play, the curiosity, the sense of discovery.

It’s reminded me of the importance of place in what I am creating. When I wrote in Ohio, in France, in Guatemala, the backdrop of the place had an effect on me, the writer, even if what I was writing had nothing to do with the place I was in at the moment. When I write in the backyard with my butt planted on the ground, I can’t help but feel connected to the rustling of the leaves, the heat of the sun on my skin, and let that sense of place seep into my writing.

It’s reminded me that, sometimes, we need change for the sake of change. For the sheer purpose of not becoming too stagnant. And that, while there is a lot of change in our lives that in not within our control, there is much that is. There were so many choices available to me about where, and how, to approach my daily writing, just within the few blocks from my home.

There are far more possibilities than we think available to us in any given moment. But we tend not to see them.

What have you done to shake up your creative habit? What possibilities might be right in front of you, if you allowed them to reveal themselves?

And: I have two spaces for one-on-one coaching opening up in September. Are you feeling stuck on a project that’s important to you, or having trouble getting started? I may be able to help. Learn more, here.

Image is “Table with a View” © Scott Patterson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

10 thoughts on “Shaking up your creative habit

  1. As usual, a wonderful, thought-provoking post, Jill. It made me think of the little red table and chair I have right outside my back door and how nice it would be to sit in that chair at that table to write. Or, on a log by the ocean. Or, at a picnic bench at our tiny town park in front of the old monkey bars. Thank you for tweaking my imagination about where to write, not just what and how.


    • Mary, I love the sound of those places to write. Beautiful! You’re definitely in the setting to take advantage of writing outside! Thank you, as always, for reading and for sharing! 🙂


  2. Oh this is so true, I found myself saying, ‘Yes!’ out loud at several moments while I was reading! I love the idea of ‘dialing up the play’ and recognised some of the places you mentioned as my own favourites (library, in the park). Nature is a very wise and powerful muse and recently, as I was walking in a nearby wood, I could feel the inspiration literally coursing through my veins from the environment in a complete torrent of magical osmosis, and I was almost brought to tears in recognition of nature’s generosity. That might sound melodramatic, but I have a feeling you’ll understand what I mean. Thanks Jill as always for a wonderful post. Hugs, H xxx


    • Harula, that doesn’t sound melodramatic at all — I am almost in tears at your description of it! Yes, nature gives and gives, you’re so right. There is SO much there, and that abundance reminds me that there’s so much within us as well. I’m so glad the post struck a chord for you — thank you for adding your wonderful thoughts! I always appreciate them. 😉


  3. The human brain loves new things, even the dull routines carried out in a new way excites the brain. Creativity is all about sending neural impulses down new path ways in the brain, achieved by doing something new.


    • Well said, Alex! So true. And yet, although the brain loves new things, it also clings to the familiar and routine. I like what you said about “dull routines carried out in a new way” for that reason. Just changing one small thing about our routines can make a difference. 🙂

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  4. Yes, I can relate. It’s amazing what happens when we purposefully set out to do something. It’s so easy to forget to shake things up and just be status quo all the time. Everytime I escape the city for a weekend I think this. A month or so ago I spent the weekend at the beach and channelled some of those exact landscapes and events into the next scene I wrote. It was very satisfying. 🙂


    • I love that, Ellen. I remember your post about that weekend away. Yes, I notice I can get very “nose to the grindstone” about getting something done if I don’t shake things up a little. And particularly for a very long project, like a novel, that gets old pretty fast! Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  5. I much enjoy journaling in nature, but for some reason, I only did that rarely this summer. Your post reminds me to take the time to journal outside, whether it’s in my own yard or at our local arboretum. One time I journaled in that arboretum under a willow tree and was surprised by the powerful emotions that were brought forth due to a childhood memory of being enclosed by the leaves of a willow tree. Ultimately, a healing experience.


    • Oh, that’s beautiful about journaling under the willow tree, Sue (they are one of my favorite trees!). What a great reminder of the healing quality of writing in nature, too. Thanks so much for reading! 🙂


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