Daily Practice, Part II

You’ve heard it before. You are in a class and the instructor says, “All you need in ten minutes to do X right when you get up.” Nothing takes 10 minutes, least of all right when you get up. If you lined up all those 10 minutes for exercise, writing, spiritual practice, organizing or pet walking for every class you’ve taken, you’d have to start at 5 a.m. and stay up till midnight.

So how are you ever going to get a daily practice of writing, art, music, dance, meditation, anything—in and stay alive?

I have an alternative answer. All of us have the same amount of time in a day—24 hours. They aren’t making any more. So getting up earlier or staying up later is not the issue. You are booked. Your day is full. If you want to a daily practice, you have to choose.

dust bunniesChoose one thing over another. For most artists, everything else comes first. We got into that habit with the day job. Work came first, then kids, housecleaning, pets and art came dragging along late at night. No wonder it didn’t earn a living. You treated your art as it it were an afterthought.

Move art making as a daily practice to the top of the list. Fit in a day job, eating, and sleeping. Everything else drops down the list.

You not only don’t have to do all the housework yourself, sometimes it doesn’t get a priority at all. My house is hardly ever company ready. Cat hair swirls in the corners of the staircase. I don’t have dust bunnies, I have dust buffaloes. But I write, meditate and read every day. Because I changed priorities.

I used to do all my chores on time–vacuum, dust, clean bathrooms, empty dishwasher, do laundry. . .the list is impressive. At the end of the day, I was too tired to be creative. Then I gave myself permission to let the housekeeping slide. Not forever, but some cleaning doesn’t get done until it needs to. I use the time to focus on my art, write, or daydream. Daydreaming is important for creativity. (You can learn how, if you don’t know).

If you are a recovering perfectionist, the scenario of not-cleaning sounds awful. I challenge you to try it. The only rule is that you must use the time not-cleaning to be creative. Not-cleaning is your time, no fair using it to pay bills, drive the kids to soccer, or other chores. Not-cleaning is your creative time. Try it, and see if there isn’t room for not-cleaning in your life.

Not creating is specific to perfectionists. Read more.

–Quinn McDonald has a daily practice of writing, but she insists people call before they drop by. She is a certified creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com Dust bunny image: answers.com

6 thoughts on “Daily Practice, Part II

  1. Finally! Someone whose dust bunnies look like real rabbits! Did you tell them that we have our annual dustbunny convention at my house every week? LOL

  2. Radio is far more “real” than TV. I grew up in radio, and we knew there were two amazing hooks–one was that it depended heavily on your imagination–sound effects were supplied, you made up the rest. And the other thing was–it was live. You felt you were participating, not just being entertained.

  3. the other day, I determined that TV is invasive, but radio is intimate.

    and that’s from a (former?) TV addict.


  4. Mari–I’ve gotten really frightened of TV. It encourages meanness, bad behavior, and tantrums. When it shows them on “reality TV,” I’m sure that a zillion people think it’s fine to adopt that anger, malice and meanness into their lives. I don’t want to have only “nice” things on TV, but there’s a lot of ground of good TV that simply isn’t covered on the tube.

  5. Put ART first??? What are you, Quinn, some sort of subversive? This is America, kid, get with the program. Art comes dead last, if at all. And speaking of programs, here’s my 2nd favorite rant (after Art in America): turn off the TV! Don’t tell me you don’t have the time when you spend so much of it watching TV! Okay, rants over. As usual, Quinn, you have popped the dust bunny right on the head, but the problem with doing what you suggest, though, is that it puts us right up against the real reasons why we don’t do our art: those interior dust bunnies named fear, and yes, perfectionism. What if I’m not good enough? What if someone laughs at me? Do I really have something to say with my art? I guess I’m ranting again. I’ll stop now. Really. I’m done.

  6. Great post Quinn. I am slowly coming around to this way of thinking. It was always housework first, trying to be the perfect wife in case ma-inlaw popped in and said “Poor boy, look what he has to contend with”. Well the time has come when this poor girl is grabbing a big chunk of time for herself….and I’m a much nicer person for it!

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