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Artists are notorious for bad habits. Historically, they?re known for being drunkards who chop off their ears and marry their cousins. Or in more modern terms, they?re known for working late hours, binging on coffee and energy drinks, and saying yes to everything while hating the world around them (because they wanted to say no but didn?t know how).

But it doesn?t have to be this way. The creative life doesn?t have to be one filled with dread.

By incorporating the right type of healthy habits into your life, you can actually enjoy the process of creating. Not only that, but you can enjoy your job and the people you work with. You can enjoy your life and have fun being creative in the process.

Here are ten healthy habits every artist and creative individual should incorporate into their lives. See which ones you need to start immediately.

1. Block Negativity

Do you have friends who always bring you down? You should probably stop hanging out with them. Simple.

Most artists don?t necessarily have problems with their friends, though. They have problems with people they follow on social media who they compare themselves to. These friends seem to always have success, find the best opportunities, and make everyone else feel bad about themselves with their awesomeness.

Ideally, you could learn to avoid comparison. But that?s tough. So the second option is easy until you can master the first option. Unfollow them. Don?t surround yourself with negativity?even things that lead you to negative places. Get rid of that and you?ll find so much peace.[quote]Don?t surround yourself with negativity?even things that lead you to negative places.[/quote]

2. Embrace External Inspiration

Always look for inspiration. But don?t just look inside your own industry. If you work in a church, follow secular industries. Or better yet, follow typography designers, painters, musicians, Cirque du Soleil? Get inspiration from all over the place and get inspiration often.

This will also keep you from looking like everyone else in your industry. It?s too easy to copy and mimic when you see people doing the same sort of things as you.

3. Front-Load Inspiration

Don?t wait until you need inspiration to seek it out. Find great ideas and inspiration that you can use later. Keep a Pinterest board or physical pin-up board of all the great things that inspire you and fuel great work.

4. Don?t Do Pinterest Projects

I?m not saying don?t use Pinterest. I?m saying don?t do your work like a Pinterest project. When you see something you really like, use it as inspiration. Don?t copy the thing. Copying is a very unhealthy creative habit. And frankly, it?s not all that creative. Plagiarism is not the same thing as inspiration.[quote]Plagiarism is not the same thing as inspiration.[/quote]

Plus, your copy will probably never be as good as the original. You don?t want your art to look like a Pinterest fail.

5. Observe Trends; Don?t Chase Them

Observing trends is helpful to let you know what you should stop doing. It?s not necessarily wise to start doing something because of a trend.

For instance, most graphic designers no longer use drop shadows in their work. Observe that trend, and stop using them. But just because everyone?s starting to use Manhattan Darling font, it doesn?t mean you need to start. (I use it. So do what I say, not what I do.)

6. Don?t Work for Your Portfolio

There will be times a client or a boss wants you to create something you aren?t proud of. That?s okay. You work for the client/boss, not for your portfolio.[quote]You work for the client/boss, not for your portfolio.[/quote]

Your creative work isn?t about your ego. If it is, you?ll never quite be happy working for someone else. If you need to pad your portfolio, do personal or passion projects. Ideally some of the work you get paid for can be useful in your portfolio. But if it never is, be okay with that.

7. Develop Side Projects

If the only time you?re creative is when you get paid for it, you are going to grow to hate creativity. Develop passion projects on the side where you can really flex your creative muscle. Do different things that require new knowledge and skills.[quote]If the only time you?re creative is when you get paid for it, you are going to grow to hate creativity.[/quote]

You?ll find these projects rejuvenate you and make you better at your real job too.

8. Get Projects Done Early

If you frequently find yourself working right up to the deadline, you?ve developed an unhealthy habit. Start getting projects done early, then let them sit. If you need to make a last minute change to make it better, do it. But most often, you?ll find it?s good enough and you can enjoy the peace of being done early.

God had seven days to create everything we see, but He used six. Let?s follow His lead on that and get done early.[quote]God had seven days to create everything we see, but He used six. Let?s follow His lead.[/quote]

9. Get Out and Move Around

Change your scenery frequently. If you find you aren?t motivated, go somewhere else. Change of location means change of perspective. And creativity is built on new perspectives.

10. Don?t Take Yourself Too Seriously

Learn to laugh at yourself. When you create something that?s absolutely ugly, show some friends and laugh about it with them. That?ll help you deal with boss/client changes. If you take yourself and your work too seriously, you?ll always get offended when someone doesn?t like something.[quote]Relax. Your art is not everything.[/quote]

Relax. Your art is not everything. It?s important, but not important enough to make you a grumpy person all the time.

Are there more healthy habits you should develop? You bet there are. I?d love if you shared your own in a comment below. What habits keep you healthy and sane as you create?

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3 replies on “Developing a Healthy Creative Habit”

I think the principle applies all over. But in the church world graphic designers tend to have a bit more fighting say in what goes down in the leadership of the church. Thus the designer can feel a bit more entitled and fight for what they want a series/graphic to look like.

In secular industry…you’re working there because you need the money. You don’t have as much say and you kind of accept that. My first job was like that. I had to learn really fast that I was working for a paycheck from my boss…not out of some noble passion for the arts. 😛

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