Creative Cycles

As human beings we depend on cycles and routines to keep our lives balanced and organised. Every day we go through the cycles of waking, eating, working, and sleeping at roughly the same time. We end each working week with two days of relaxation (or even more work). Have you ever stopped to consider how cycles and routines affect your creativity, and how you can use them to improve your performance?

Daily Cycles

Are you a morning person or a night owl? Do you force yourself to try to get to sleep earlier than you would like to because you have to get up for work in the morning? Is this the time of the night that you would prefer to be writing, painting, or sculpting? Or do you wake up early but have chores and/or children to sort out before rushing off to work?

For many creative people a day job can really throw a spanner in the creative works. There’s the conformity of getting to work at a certain time and therefore having to go to sleep at perhaps the wrong time in order to wake up in time to get to work. Or for those who work at home there may still be the children or spouse’s routine to consider and staying up until two in the morning means not being there for your family at the start of each day.

If your daily routine and your other commitments are interrupting your creativity it’s important to try to work out a compromise. Perhaps you can set aside an hour of creative work while the rest of the household gets ready for bed (or after they’ve settled in). How about setting the alarm clock an hour earlier and working until your regular waking time? That extra time not only adds up, it also keeps your creative momentum going from day to day, which means it becomes easier to get some quality work in each day. And starting the day doing something creative can really give the rest of your day a positive boost.

Weekly Cycles

Does the weekend interrupt your creative flow? Do you feel guilty if you decide to spend a few hours in the studio instead of watching TV with your family? It can be very difficult to get back into your creative momentum on a Monday morning if you’ve had a break over the weekend, but sometimes we really do need a break from being creative.

Or weekends may be the only time you find you have left for creative work. Perhaps you pack them in with thousands of words written, or try to complete one painting each weekend. If you’re unattached, this can be an ideal way to unwind from a busy work week if your job differs from your creative side. But do remember to try and get out and meet up with your friends occasionally.

If you do have a family you may have to negotiate for some creative time to yourself. It may even help you to focus if you know you have two hours in which to get something done and then you’re off to the park with the kids. As with your working week ask yourself whether you can set your alarm and get some work done before the rest of the house wakes up.

This article was first published on BellaOnline in November 2006. © Elsa Neal

Non-US readers - you may want to try Book Depository (free shipping), instead of Amazon.

Try these books from if you would like to try and organise your time more creatively:

Time Management for the Creative Person - Right-Brain Strategies for Stopping Procrastination, Getting Control of the Clock and Calendar, and Freeing Up Your Time and Your Life by Lee Silber

The Creative Habit : Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp


One thought on “Creative Cycles”

  1. That is true. I used to be a morning person and now it seems I shifted my creativity to the night. I need to find a rhythm again, because I really feel it’s out of balance. Thanks for the hint. Sometimes you need to hear things again.

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