Rituals Work

If you work in an office, you have a morning routine. Whether you get up and shower or get up and exercise, have breakfast and then shower, you do the same thing every morning. You probably have your moves timed down to the exact second, either by a clock or your TV.  You get out of the house and to the office on time.

children-3Creating a ritual for art is exactly the same thing as a routine for work. A ritual legitimizes your effort, eliminates distractions and assigns a top priority to your artwork. As long as your artwork doesn’t have a priority higher than the laundry or watching TV, it won’t get done. And you strengthen the priority every day of your life, by repeating what you did before.

Your art work is powerful, but not powerful enough to overcome your resistance and drag you into your studio. You have to do the work. And that means shifting priorities. To art. Why is that worth it? Because art makes meaning in your life. It helps you understand yourself, your world, your journey. It’s also sometimes uncomfortable  to face the meaning you make in art, so it’s easy to shove it aside. The art you make is not always the way it’s portrayed on Facebook, elegant and surrounded by a glowing light. Art can be messy, painful and revealing–of thoughts you wanted to bury.

The ritual doesn’t have to be complex. Decide ahead of time when you will do art.Green-Art-Studios-Weaving-Studio-537x368 Choose a whole hour. Set a timer to ring 10 minutes before you want to go to the studio to give yourself time to quit what you are doing. Make a cup of coffee or tea, grab the cup and head to the studio. No excuses.

Once you start your new habit, it will first get much harder to meet your ritual. The phone will ring, the kids will demand your attention, a crisis will erupt. Keep to your schedule. In about a week, it will suddenly get easier.

Your morning routine works because your job brings in money and you have given it permission to take over your life. Give your art a chance, too. It brings meaning to your life. And as my mantra says, “you don’t find meaning in life, you make meaning in your life.” Give meaning a chance.

—Quinn McDonald has her own ritual for getting to the studio. Some days it’s still uncomfortable.

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21 responses to “Rituals Work

  1. Love this post, pairs well with the “5 ways to say ‘No’ ” post for me. I’ve really had guard to myself, my talents, and my dear heart goals from all the people who think they need me to take care of them. I did it to myself! I created that expectation in people because I am a mentor for horsemanship and horse training. No more rescuing! It is my ambition now to lead a quiet life and to work with my hands.

  2. Pingback: It’s Links Day! | An Inkophile's Blog

  3. At this very moment I´m at an excitement overload. I´d just run around the house hugging my laptop. *giggle* Knowing my cycles I need to make the most of it until I stop midstep and go underground in my “nobody will like this” phase.
    I´d planned starting The Artist´s way group in Jan 2015 but got a couple of locals interested in the Spanish version which would need to go out on Sept 1st to go with the weather (starting in spring and ending before the holiday season).
    Nothing like doing things with an ultratight deadline.
    May I share this with the ladies who will do the work? It´s a great “get structure” post.

  4. Some of the most enduring work we did together, Quinn, was helping me become aware of entering and of leaving my studio: When or when not. How often. What I was feeling and sometimes doing instead? My “Welcome Home” and “Ya’ll Come Back Now, Ya Heah!” signs are still in place. I’ve added a few more over the years. I am appreciating this series of posts.

  5. With the green grass and multitude of trees, I’m guessing the photo isn’t of your Phoenix studio! Do you have a photo you can share of your studio? Back when Mary Engelbreit had her magazine, my favorite section every month was of artist studios.

    • That would be wonderful if it were my studio. But no. My studio is quite common and unprepossessing. It’s also the guest room. There is nothing magic or wonderful, it’s a place where I get work done. It’s no one’s dream studio, I like it for how it makes me feel.

      • Any studio is magical — in my opinion. It’s not one bit about what it looks like, it’s all about what gets done in a designated studio area. Guest room, walk in closet, table in the corner of a casita. I love common studios – no competing with the perfect setting… There’s enough other things begging for comparison, if I let them, not gonna add studio to my list…

  6. ARGH! Awesome post! That is so true! And I know I should ‘just do it’. And then the ripples of an anxiety attack start splashing against the walls of my mind, saying; ok, you work full time, you study part time, it’s mid-freakin’-winter here, just WHEN are you going to do this???
    So I’m not going to answer myself just now, but take the dogs for a walk, and come home and take my head-cold back to bed. Sigh.
    Thanks so much for the inspiration, Quinn :)

    • Head-colds are creativity-stoppers. Rest. Take it easy so you can recuperate. The anxiety attack is just because you know you want to do this, but you are afraid of finding that successful and then. . .horrors! You will be responsible for your own success!

  7. Recent changes means my life has few of the old rituals and I’m developing new ones . . . it’s interesting being able to do it consciously. I still enjoy my coffee in bed with my favourite blogs first thing in the morning however I’m here just a tad longer these days. That might need to change!

  8. It’s true that I need a ritual. I always think I have so much time in the summer to do my arts/crafts, but in the end, not much gets done. This is something to think about…and do!

  9. Carina Karlsson

    While I do not have an art routine, i make art everyday, sometimes 5 minutes (no really hardly ever less than 10) and sometimes hours at a stretch on weekends. I Keep myself accountable by logging what was done in a notebook. Everyday gets an entry. Thoughts about the art created, inspirations and ideas get jotted down too, but mostly it is a spot to hold myself accountable.

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