Why You Need Creative Routines

How daily habits can fuel your art

Routines are a creativity killer.

At least that’s what many identify routines with.

In a world where creativity is often depicted as someone’s essence bursting open, there is a sense of intensity and maybe uncontrollable chaos.

It is often imagined as a rare occurrence, something unpredicted or of an unknown cause.

This explains the general frustration around creativity and those believing they haven’t been gifted this human quality.

And so routines might seem like the antithesis of inspiration or creative expression.

Especially because we are all familiar with routines but not necessarily with creative outbursts.

However, establishing consistent daily habits can be a powerful tool to fuel creativity and maintain a steady flow of artistic output.

Creative routines provide structure, reduce procrastination, and help overcome creative blocks, making them an essential part of any artist's toolkit.

In this letter, we'll explore the significance of creative routines, how to establish them, and how they can lead to more consistent and inspired work.

The Importance of Creative Routines

Creative routines are regular, structured activities that support your creative work.

Let me give you two examples I apply myself when it comes to photography:

  1. Finding locations to shoot - although it might feel like you’re not doing anything, actually searching online for regions you would enjoy photographing, will give your mind a direction to think towards.

    We generate hundreds of ideas without realizing it, the mind is an always-on machine.

    More knowledge means more questions and problems the mind craves.

    So you might as well give it a constructive direction.

  2. Preparing files for an edit - this is an activity in itself I do not enjoy much, mostly because I feel I’m not creating anything out of it.

    However, every time I start stitching panoramas together, adjusting the white balance of Astro-modified images, or selecting the different images that will serve as a piece for a composite later on, the mind starts running and doing its thing

    And suddenly things start taking shape on their own, I am just executing what feels like the right thing to try out.

These routines help you overcome creative blocks by providing a framework within which you can experiment and create without the pressure of starting from scratch each day.

They enhance productivity by promoting regular practice, allowing you to build momentum and reduce procrastination.

For example, editing a complex composite can feel like such a huge task that you don’t even know where to start.

But by breaking down the process and removing the more boring steps that are blocking you from starting, you build much less resistance to the actual work.

That’s because psychologically, routines create a sense of normalcy and control, helping manage stress and anxiety related to your creative pursuits.

By making creativity a daily habit, you can ensure a steady flow of inspiration and output.

Establishing Your Creative Routine

Creating a routine that works for you involves identifying your most productive times of day, setting specific goals and intentions, and balancing work and rest periods.

Simple in essence, more complex to put into practice.

So let’s break it down:

  1. Identifying Productive Times:

Experiment with different times of the day to find when you're most creative.

Some people are morning birds, finding their peak creativity in the early hours, while others are night owls, thriving in the quiet of the evening.

It might also be that certain creative activities work best for you in the morning, and others in the evening.

For me when editing an image, piecing together my elements and testing different techniques, colours, and styles, works best late at night. However, working on technical details, masking, and preparing the files flows much better in the morning.

You need to test out different situations and pay attention to how you feel.

  1. Setting Goals and Intentions:

These could be daily, weekly, or monthly creative goals.

For example, aiming to complete a certain number of edits per week or month, or spending a set amount of time practicing a new technique each day.

When I started composites, I had a yearly goal to come up with at least 12 images that must each include a new technique (focal blending, panorama stitching, moonscape, Milky Way…)

This forced me to explore several techniques and to stack skills I had previously learned.

Here are some examples and the technique attached:

Technique: compositing/putting different files together (very early work)

Technique: framing/stitching a cave foreground (very early work)

Technique: star trail

Technique: focus stacking

Technique: exposure blending

  1. Balancing Work and Rest:

Regular breaks are crucial.

I’m not going to tell you how many hours maximum you should put in at a time. This is very personal.

But taking some form of rest or break at the end of a creation, a long process, or a milestone, is a practice I highly recommend.

You risk exhausting yourself and bringing the quality of your next work down. This is what happened to me when I finished working on these two images:

I had already been editing for 2 days in a row the two images above and wanted to keep on creating a 3rd one right away.

And this is what came out:

Needless to say, the quality dropped significantly.

I had exhausted my creative power and definitely needed rest.

As a result of pushing unnecessarily, I never published this photo, nor came back to it to make something better out of it or fix it.

  1. Daily Habits to Enhance Creativity:

Incorporate habits such as morning pages or journaling to clear your mind and spark ideas.

I personally go through different cycles where my mind activities vary. Sometimes it’s all writing for days, then it’s all reading, then it’s all about meditating.

Don’t be too attached to one habit or another.

It might feel great at first, and it’s good if it does.

But as soon as you feel something else could be more helpful for you at the moment, switch to that something else.

Also, allocate time for learning and skill development

This can be anything such as watching tutorials online, taking an online course, or reading about new techniques.

Adapting and Evolving Your Routine

Flexibility and adaptability are key to maintaining effective routines.

Flexibility and Adaptability:

Life is unpredictable, and your routine should be flexible enough to accommodate changes.

Whether you're traveling or dealing with personal events, be prepared to adjust your routine as needed without losing sight of your creative goals.

Being too attached and rigid to your own processes or habits can be a source of frustration and guilt further down the line.

I know it is easier said than done.

But remind yourself that it’s okay if things change, that’s the nature of the world we live in.

And if something is truly important to you, find creative ways to incorporate it into your daily life in different formats.

Creative routines are more than just schedules.

And if you find the words “routine” or “schedule” unpleasant, change it to something else that feels less resistant to you.

Again, don’t be attached to the words.

Build instead an attachment to the process or the practice.

Because they are powerful tools that can enhance your productivity, reduce stress, and foster consistent creative output.

Tools that fuel your art and keep your inspiration flowing.

Creativity is a quality that not all humans know how to harness, but all possess.

It’s mostly a matter of awareness and practice before it becomes more instinctive and natural.

If you made it that far, thank you for your time.

See you in the next one,


PS: I just released an ultra wide panorama from my trip in Norway, the first of its kind in my portfolio. See below.

To guide your interpretation, I invite you to follow the poem below to understand the hidden elements placed in the image (zoom in to find the elements mentioned, hopefully the compression is not too bad):

“From left to right, from dark to bright

In the vastness of what you see, look closely

Someone standing there with a light to take care

Looking up for a sign, a few stars that shine

Clueless what to do, which life to pursue

Realising, the answer can only be found within

Unaware, that the one standing there

Contemplating the view, is no one else but you

The light you’re holding, bring it back in

For staring at it with your mind, can only make you blind

To the hidden beauty you were meant to see

Suddenly discover, a life in colour”

This image is a composite, all the elements have been taken in the same area within 10km and within the span of 3 days.

Have you found the meaning of the piece?