You’ve got it all set – you’ll write (or make art) on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, at 3:00, for an hour each time. Sounds good, doable and perhaps even a little exciting.
This lasts for a week, maybe two. Something comes up – always – and you’re thrown off your routine faster than a squirrel leaping off a branch. And you’ll be left feeling like a failure, like something is wrong with you. You may even abandon your creative ambitions altogether.
Why does your splendidly devised routine fail you? Mostly because we don’t take into account all of our other obligations. We don’t give ourselves wiggle room. We tend to over-book ourselves, and our beloved optimism works against us. We also crave variety, and we don’t like to feel boxed in or pinned down.
It took me years to accept the fact that setting up a routine is usually a set up for failure. Sure, it may work for a week, or two, or even a few months, and then, the ship hits the foam and we veer off course.
It’s not your fault! It’s life. I have learned that it’s always something. Every single week has its wrench to hack your carefully devised rhythm. And, sigh, you have to get back on the wagon, often losing valuable time beating yourself up that you fell off.
If setting and resetting your creative routine works for you, hooray! Keep doing that. I suggest another approach: become an ardent opportunist.
This type of creative may not have planned her creative time but seems to get a lot done.
It helps to know when your best creative times are – early morning before everyone is awake. Late afternoon before the evening cycle begins. But the ardent opportunist knows that she doesn’t NEED those windows of time. She can create anywhere, anytime, even if it’s just capturing ideas and insights while away from the studio.
The ardent opportunist seizes any chance she can to create. She has her notebook with her at all times to capture her ideas, to whip out a 10-minute free-write, to finish a sketch.
When an appointment cancels or a window of time opens up, she doesn’t pop over to social media or email. She digs into her project. She knows that these small drips of time add up.
The ardent opportunist savors little victories. She knows that even the shortest sessions count, and she gives herself credit for showing up when she can.
The ardent opportunist doesn’t make excuses. She looks for ways to make it work for her.
She sets deadlines and works hard to meet them. When random events throw her off course, she gets back on with renewed commitment.
I try to be an ardent opportunist as much as I can. It’s often in those windows of time that I would never have suspected would be fruitful that have worked best for me.
Are you an ardent opportunist or a planning failure? Try to adopt the ardent opportunist approach this week and see what happens. Share your approach below!