this past year was one that brought with it many valuable lessons and opportunities to explore. i tried news things, wrote a couple books, visited new places, and established new habits. out of all those things, i think one of the most valuable things i learned in the past year, was something about myself as a creative.
if you're a writer or a creative of any kind, you might be familiar with the feeling of being so closely connected to your work that you become one with it; its success becomes your success, and its downfalls become your downfalls. this can sound harmless at first, but from first hand experience i know that it can not only negatively affect your craft, but it can negatively affect your day to day life - at least it did for me.
last year, i began to notice a pattern: when i didn't feel in the mood to write, and on days when writing just wasn't working out for me, i was generally unhappy with everything else i did, and my day felt completely unfulfilled. my modus operandi became: if i can write today, then i'll be happy.
but my biggest revelation came when i began to notice that the days when i actually wrote best, were days when i was happy first - not the days when i waited for writing to "make me" happy. thus, the moto of my subconscious has changed: if i'm happy, then i can write well.
becoming aware of this simple, yet deeply profound truth has begun to completely transform how i look at my craft and how i fuel myself creatively. my mission has shifted from writing in order to sustain happiness, to sustaining happiness in order to write.
now of course this can raise all sorts of questions about how and where we find lasting happiness, but i'm not going to get into that now, i'll leave it up to your own seeking and soul searching. i also wrote two books that touch on that. but for now, i do want to talk about a few of the habits i've adopted that have helped enormously in fueling my flame and keeping me excited about getting out of bed in the morning - things that stoke my internal happiness and in turn, help me write epic stories.
so here we go:
ONE | start your morning motivated
as soon as you get out of bed, you have to set the tone of your day. we always have a choice here...we can chose to roll over and grab our phones and lay there scrolling through instagram, taking stock of other people's lives...or we can take a moment to observe our own. start with DEEP breaths. maybe even tape a positive mantra to your bathroom mirror as a reminder while you check out that beautiful face. if you don't have a morning routine, that's okay, just set aside five or ten minutes to listen to something positive and inspiring. I recommend something like this or this.
TWO | get moving
this tags on perfectly to #1 - if you don't have an exercise or workout routine of some kind, i would highly recommend establishing one - ESPECIALLY if you're a creative. there's a ton of research being done on how daily exercise can positively affect your brain and enhance your creativity. it's also a huge combatant of anxiety and depression, so if you struggle with either of those things, grab hold of this and use it to create healing. lately i've been starting my day with anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes of yoga, and some mornings i like to go for a brisk jog to get my heart rate up and my blood flowing. both have helped me to shed any anxious energy and head into my day feeling fresh.
THREE | cut back the caffeine
speaking of anxiety, think about cutting out that second (or third, in my case, heh) cup of coffee. caffeine can act like an anxiety amplifier. it also reduces blood flow to the brain. a few years ago i dropped caffeine altogether, completely purging from my "coffee addiction" for a few months and my family said I was like a different person. but you don't necessarily need to drop your lovely morning coffee ritual altogether (can you tell i love mine??) i've found that keeping it back to a cup...okay, sometimes two, has helped me tremendously, leaving me healthier, and much happier.
FOUR | eat more raw food
and by raw, i'm obviously talking vegetables here - definitely not recommending that you chow down on some raw hamburger meat. raw fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that are often killed when cooked, so when you can, don't cook them. this time of year (for those of us in ye ol' cold north) it's easiest to find frozen fruit and add it to smoothies. eating right is what's going to fuel your body and ultimately your mind. if you don't know where to start, going raw, and raw & simple are great books.
FIVE | declutter and simplify
this is one i'm constantly working on. keeping a clean space just makes me feel more creative. i like my office to be more than just a work space. when i walk in, i want to feel like i just entered the creative zone. my walls are vibrant colors, my desk is (relatively) organized, and fairly decluttered. i feel a lot more at ease in a clean, tidy space than i do in a messy one. so use a simple tidy-up to create a peaceful space for yourself to unwind and create cool stuff in. don't overwhelm yourself though, start with one area at a time, and work your way up from there. you'll have a fresh space before you know it.
SIX | turn your phone off
or leave it in a drawer somewhere. but in either case, detach from the device. you'll be blown away by how creative your mind can get when you're not glancing down at every vibration and new message, or getting distracted on Instagram. i actually made a video about how i was able to write a 130k word novel by ditching my phone.
SEVEN | carve out time to write and/or work on your creative project
again, this tags on really well to #6... find the meaningless things that are sucking up your time and eliminate those. often we spend far more time than we're willing to admit on social media, or watching tv. let's ditch those things and turn them into valuable, useful time for our books or creative projects instead. you'll be amazed by how much time you end up with. if, even after eliminating as many of these distractions as possible, you still feel like you don't have enough time to be creative, maybe think about waking up early in the morning (...like i did to write this very blog post you're reading. ;)) here's a great video about how valuable it can be to set an earlier alarm.
okay, rad soul, there you have it: seven little (big) things that have helped me a lot over the past year - things that i'm definitely still working on and getting better at, but hey, that's why i'm carrying them straight into this bright new year. i hope they add a little light to your day and maybe even boost that creative mind of yours.
do you have a morning routine of any kind? what motivates you the most? what would you add to this list? how about we keep this motivating conversation going down in the comments - i would love to hear what you'd add to this list (and maybe even implement them into my daily routine...)