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The Creative Ritual
A pregame ritual is essential for the prolific creator.
“I keep to [my] routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.” — Haruki Murakam
Every high performance athlete has a pregame ritual.
Likewise, the prolific creator has a creative ritual. Both are designed to strip away distractions, to heighten the senses and to place both mind and body in the moment. This state is conducive to flow where the athlete or creator performs naturally and without constraint.
Every creative ritual differs from one person to the next and changes over time much the same way each person changes. It need not be complicated. Whatever focuses the mind and strips away limits works best.
My creative ritual for daily writing and sketching incorporates a few habits designed to bring a meditative state...
Waking and preparing the environment:
Wake at 5 AM.
Prepare a cup of hot chocolate or tea.
Enter my office with the lights trained to a low, yellow hue (thank you, Hue!)
Take a few sips while focusing on the feeling of warmth spreading from mouth to stomach. Savor it.
Reading and note-making:
Add notes and quotes from yesterday’s reading to my system of notes.
Peruse my notes for something of interest to write about. An idea always jumps out at me, followed by the first line or two of what I would write.
Write and sketch:
Write distraction free. No music. No interruptions. Only sweet, blessed silence.
Sketch a representation of what was just written or a quote I paired with it.
At this point, it is 7 AM. I am mentally spent. Time to greet my family for the day and recharge with breakfast. I save editing and publishing for later in the day with a more analytical state of mind.
Without this creative ritual, a flow state would be difficult to achieve and left to chance. Pay careful attention to your own. Experiment with what works. Tune it over time. And produce your best work.
🤔 Food for Thought:
Are you struggling to create?
Do you have a creative ritual?
What helps you focus and free the mind?
⚙️ One Small Step:
On struggling to create...
Pick a time of day free of distractions.
Pick a place suited to the work and prepare it.
Pick one practice that comforts the soul.
Combine the three as your initial creative ritual. Be consistent in its application, even if a flow state does not come easily at its end. Now experiment with small changes over time.
I find it helps to observe the creative rituals of others. Don’t adopt them as one does a checklist. Let them inspire you instead with their struggles and things to try in your creative ritual. Only adopt what works while making them your own.
Try Daily Rituals: How Artists Work if you are short on other creators to observe or ideas.