Five Tips To Help You Build A Creative Practice

I grabbed a canvas, flipped open my Matisse book and started to play.

Note: I originally published these tips in a Scoutie Girl post early last year. I'm re-posting them here because selfishly, I need to read them again.


This weekend, after several months away, I showed up at the art table. I painted with no motive other than to put brush and colour to canvas. It felt good.

Now I'm toying with the idea of bringing back my early morning, pre-workday painting routine (eep!) and I need all the help I can get.

The tips below work, I know that from experience.

For me, for you, here are five great ways to get started with a regular creative practice:

1. Start small

Don’t go in with the pressure of making art every day forever. Treat it as an experiment. Set a goal with a finite amount of time; five or seven days in a row is a good, doable target. Then, one day at a time, meet that. When you’re done take a look at what worked, what didn’t, and set a new goal.

2. Experiment with your schedule

When I had my regular painting practice, on office days, I went to the studio first thing in the morning. On days I was at home, I was more flexible. Experiment with the best time of day for you to focus on creating, and with the length of your sessions. Notice what works and what doesn’t. Shift where you need to.

3. Prepare things ahead of time.

If you’re like me and moonlighting at an outside job (ahem), do what you can ahead of time. Prepare your painting surfaces, transfer your photos from your camera, brainstorm your writing topics for the week… That way when time is at a premium you’ll be able to make the most of it. This type of studio prep work is also great for those days when your creative mojo may be on the low side; it’s forward movement that doesn’t necessarily demand too much energy.

4. Practice self-compassion

Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day, life happens. Just go back to it the next day. If you find yourself skipping a lot of days, try shifting your time of practice or the length of your creative sessions.

5. Reap the rewards

Thanks to my regular studio practice I declared more pieces complete in 15 weeks than I did the previous two years. Every session was an opportunity to learn, practice and get better at what I love to do. Reflect on what you learned during your experiment about your craft, your process, your resistance. What small – or big – successes came about? Acknowledge and celebrate forward movement.

Tempted to try it? Let me know in the comments. Maybe we can do this together.