Not So Same-y: 4 Ways to Refresh Your Daily Practice
Updated: Jan 18
Hey there, friend. How are you?
Really. How are you doing?
Hanging in there?
There's so much happening. So much to think about. To feel about. It can be a lot to take in.
And more than a few of my creative friends have found themselves in a funk.
That general anxiety about the world crumbling down around us can be so draining.
I've written here before about the importance of cultivating a daily creative practice. In our best times, it's a way of recording and experimenting with all of our amazing ideas. In our worst of times, it can be the little nudge we need to keep our creativity from drying up completely- and in a time when there's so much to take in, it can be an outlet for all the feels.
I draw every single day, and my daily doodle has definitely been functioning as a mini venting sesh these past couple months.
Maybe you, like myself, already have this daily practice in place. Even so, we can show up to the page (or canvas, or computer screen) day after day, feeling particularly uninspired in these tough times. Perhaps all our venting is getting really old... and real depressing. With the COVID-19 crisis (among others) spanning months now, it's no surprise we may be running out of steam, and the once-beloved daily practice has become more of an uninspired daily grind...
In a time when everything is in flux, that daily routine, that sacred time for creativity, is really grounding. So the real question becomes... how do we keep up the trusty practice when we're particularly uninspired?
We throw ourselves a curve ball.
Here, I offer a few ways I approach my daily doodle when things have gotten a little too same-y. When I find myself repeating ideas, mulling over the same complaints, or am just feeling bored with it, these little changes to my approach are enough to get me back in the game. Perhaps you're not a doodler yourself, but I hope you find some of these strategies useful in switching up your own daily practice.
Outsource the Assignment
I'm not sure if you've looked lately, but if ever you're at a loss of what to draw, you can always ask the internet. There's always someone out there willing to give us an assignment. You may be familiar with Inktober, the monthly drawing challenge that gives you a prompt for every day of October. Well, my friends, rest assured that there are many more daily prompt lists out there. Search for topics or themes that interest you, and you can bet your buttons someone has created a list of prompts for our daily creative reflection. Sometimes this little bit of imposed structure, this outsourcing of the topic, can be just what we need to get started moving in a new direction.
Move Beyond the Grid
My approach to daily creative practice is to create a grid on my sketchbook page, and fill in one square a day with a drawing. Initially, this was done in an effort to conserve my limited paper supply, but it's proven a great way to make the daily task manageable and realistic- even on my busiest days. For this reason, I highly recommend a grid- but when I need a change... I think outside the box.
Instead of squares, I cover a page with blob-shapes. Or triangles. Or circles. This gives me a whole new structure to fill in with my doodles, and the different shapes require me to use up the space differently. It's a small change, but can introduce just enough of a new challenge that I get the creative push I'm looking for. Plus, you can end up with a pretty fantastic-looking finished page.
Perhaps your work isn't confined by a grid. What confines do you have? What structures do you work in? Try changing them up, or creating new ones.
Work in Pieces of a Whole
Another strategy I've used is to make each of my daily drawings into a piece of a larger work. That way, I'm still working on a small daily commitment, but now have to imagine it as contributing to something more. I love how this allows the piece to unfold each day. And as I never go in with a plan for what the finished work will be, I'm always surprised to see where it goes!
Maybe you're not a doodler- I bet you can still find a way to apply this to your daily practice! What might you storytellers, poets, musicians, or dancers come up with...
Work in a Linear Fashion
Similar to the strategy above, I've played with turning each box of my drawing grid into a panel in a comic strip. In this way, each box is complete in itself, but contributes to the story... and I have fun of making it up as I go.
How might you adapt your daily practice into a linear form? Play with sequence. Re-arrange the order of things and see what you come up with.
These are just a few of the tricks I've used to keep my daily practice from becoming a daily grind. Sometimes all we need is a little tweak to refresh and recharge our creative batteries!
Have you tried any of these before?
What strategies do you use when your practice begins to get stale?