Every day is different. The way you feel, your energy and enthusiasm, your creative work and the challenges it entails. It's all constantly changing.
As a natural planner, this element of uncertainty is something I've always struggled to make room for in my plans, even when I've considered them flexible.
So lately, I've been doing something different. Instead of trying to control what I can't control, I've begun my creative days intuitively.
You’re not a robot
In a Teacup Owl Letter a couple of weeks ago I wrote about my struggle to accept when my inspiration one day took me in a completely different direction than I had planned. Since then I’ve been thinking about why, and what my resistance to follow my own whims means.
And I’ve realized I’m treating myself a bit like a machine.
I always plan to write the same amount of words. I’ve decided to always go for a walk in the middle of my creative days. And when I don’t stick to those plans and habits, I feel like I’m breaking the rules. Like I’m doing something wrong.
These thoughts were on my mind a few weekends ago. I had a day of feeling a tad tired, but not too tired to work on the blog post I had on my to do list. However, sitting at my desk at home didn’t feel tempting at all. So I decided to follow my urge and work from the couch.
It turned out to be such a lovely, cosy day, and I realized I couldn’t have planned that. I wouldn’t have known the best way to work that day in advance. Because…
I don’t usually enjoy working from the couch.
It wouldn’t have been the perfect way of working any another day.
And my day would definitely not been as nice had I forced myself to write at my desk, as I usually like best doing.
I listened to what I needed and wanted on that specific day, and that made it a great one.
Intrigued at this quite simple realization, I decided to do an experiment.
An intuitive approach
There’s a difference between being okay with going off the path you’ve decided on, and creating a path that is flexible enough to fit your differing states and moods.
Until now, I’ve been doing it the first way, not the second. In my experiment I wanted to explore a more flexible, intuitive approach.
So instead of diving right into work, I started my creative day by journaling about how I was feeling, how I best could shape this day and what I wanted it to entail.
I’ve been doing it for three weekends now and it has worked really well. I’ve settled on these questions to begin my days with:
What are my needs today?
How will I work best today?
What is my inspiration pointing towards?
What do I want to incorporate in my day?
I don’t just write about my creative work. I’ve written down smelling the rain on a rainy day, discarding papers and having tea on the balcony.
And I don’t always write it down. Sometimes I’ve just gone through the questions in my mind, when I’ve felt that was enough.
This exercise has created a deeper awareness of how differently I feel from day to day, and how much it affects how I work. It has made me consider how I spend my days more deeply, helping me make better choices.
I think we’re taught that we need to control ourselves more than we’re taught to listen to ourselves. We learn that we need self-control, otherwise we’ll get nothing done. So that’s what we think of when developing routines and seeking to become more productive.
And yes, maybe we need some element of that, to push through when things feel scary or hard or just plain dreary.
But maybe there’s also a great well of knowledge within ourselves that we’re leaving untapped. Knowledge about what we need in the moment and how we would work best. And if we dare to listen to it, we might just get more done and be happier doing it.