Guest Post: Maintain Your Creative Spark with Daily Practice

Here’s a guest post from Dianne Ochiltree, with supportive, flexible ideas for sustaining an ongoing creative practice. Enjoy!  ~ AMC

Writing something each day is the key to maintaining a healthy creative life as a writer. The rub is, so often, life intervenes. And when it does, your cherished writing projects can be sidelined for days…weeks…months…years. Worse still, your vital creative spark can be dampened or extinguished.

Photo of a hand holding a lit sparkler, against a background of grass with trees in the distance as the sun sets on the horizon

Maintain the spark!
Image by Jamie Street on Unsplash

But it doesn’t have to be! Not if you’ve got a few daily practice choices in your back pocket to support your creative writing despite whatever curveball life may toss your way. Here’s how the process might unfold:

Shift your mindset

Expanding your definition of what counts as ‘real writing’ can help develop a sustainable daily practice. Do you insist on so many words or a certain amount of time for a writing session to count? Must your work be intended for publication? Rules like this make it harder to sit down and do the work needed to maintain creative momentum. Can you shift instead to a bigger menu of daily writing opportunities?

Expand your writing menu

Choosing to write anything that exercises your creativity and craft are valid choices for daily writing practice. For example, maybe you can’t write a chapter of your novel today, but you do have time for a bit of journaling, whether in response to a prompt or writing stream-of-consciousness pages. You might also try quick writing exercises from books like WRITING DOWN THE BONES and others listed in the Suggested Resources below. Low stakes/no stakes writing experiences are great warmups for longer sessions on your projects or valuable ways to keep your skills up when you don’t have more than a few minutes to write.

Add time and place flexibility

Everyone has a favorite time and place to write. What happens when a non-negotiable obligation presents itself? It’s easy to abandon writing on days like that, but please, don’t. Squeeze in a few moments anytime you can find, to do whatever writing you can do. And scribbling words in a notebook in a waiting room is far better than skipping your daily practice.

The bottom line: to build a sustainable daily writing practice, it’s vital to be flexible and to create a variety of forms you can do in whatever time is available to you and your muse. It doesn’t matter if it’s five minutes or five hours, if you have shown up and written something creative, whether intended for publication or not…IT COUNTS.

Suggested Resources

THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron

THE SOUND OF PAPER by Julia Cameron

THE ARTIST’S WAY MORNING PAGES JOURNAL by Julia Cameron

WRITE FOR YOUR LIFE by Lawrence Block

THE GREAT BOOK OF JOURNALING by Eric Maisel and Lynda Monk

THE POWER OF DAILY PRACTICE by Eric Maisel

WRITING DOWN THE BONES by Natalie Goldberg

THE CREATIVE HABIT by Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter

Dianne Ochiltree is a published children’s author, freelance editor, and creativity coach. Her most recent publication is as contributor to The Coach’s Guide to Completing Creative Work: 40+ Tips for Working with Procrastination, Perfectionism and More, co-edited by Eric Maisel and Lynda Monk. For more information about Dianne’s books and services, visit www.dianneochiltree.com. A previous guest post of hers, on choosing your next big writing idea, is here.