Dd: Defining Daily

During April, I will be blogging about how creative people can practice their craft every day and what rewards will come from the daily effort.

Dd: Daily
Defining Daily

This might seem obvious at first. “Daily” means every day, right? Maybe in dictionary terms, but probably not in terms of your day-to-day life.

While it’s true some people adhere to strict daily routines with bottomless buckets of discipline, I tend to find these people profiled in magazines, not in my actual life.

In fact, I don’t know anyone personally who manages to do anything absolutely every day of the week, 365 days of the year. (Well, maybe. See “Ee: Early.”)

Defining “daily” this way proves too rigid and idealistic for me and one of the best ways to set myself up to quit—if I miss one day, I’ve failed, right? So what’s the point of continuing?

A better, more productive, and more enduring approach came to me when a friend told me about giving up wine for Lent. Only one week in, he’d already had wine all but two days. While I would have labeled this a failure, he shrugged and pointed out that he’d had wine two days less than he normally would have.

Defining “daily” in a realistic but committed way helps sustain your efforts over the months and years.

Here’s how I determine if I’ve met my definition of “daily” practice:

–Did I practice more days of the week than not?
–Did I practice more than a few minutes most of those days?
–On the challenging days, did I fit in at least a few minutes of practice?
–Did I accept the day(s) I missed because it was a hard day and I chose to read or go to bed early rather than force myself to practice begrudgingly at the end of an exhausting day? (Because beating myself up for not practicing one day does not inspire me to get to the desk the next day. It’s better to replenish my creative mind with reading or rest.)

With few exceptions, I’ve been able to say “yes” to these questions each week.

If, however, I say “no” to more than one of these criteria, I know I need to reassess:

–Am I working on projects I love?
–Have I put unrealistic pressures on myself that scare me from my practice? (For example, my husband suggested I put off sending work out for publication until I have a stack of work that feels nearly finished and that I love because the efforts to publish pulled energy away from actually writing.)
–Do I need to re-define “daily”? (For example, maybe you’ve had to take on more at work or at home for a while. That’s fine. That’s life. So maybe “daily” needs to mean finding two chunks of time each week and that’s it for a while.)

Or, lastly, have I simply lost steam and need to re-boot? You know from “Aa: Allure,” that I don’t believe in waiting for a fresh start that never comes. However, I do believe you can re-focus and re-energize your work. More on that later in “Rr: Review, Reboot, Reward.

If you can arrange your life so you can practice for a significant amount of time every, single day of the week all year long, should you? I say: no. As someone who completely ignored many voices encouraging me to take a break now and then, I finally get it, but I got there the hard way. Here’s what finally sunk in for me:

If you’ve done your work, put time, energy, and heart into it, then you deserve a break. You’ve earned a bit of rest, some time to let it all go, put your feet up (literally), and rest your muscles, eyes, and brain. Rest is a part of what will sustain you over time, and if you’ve earned it, the break will feel luxurious, not guilt-ridden or like a waste of time.

Find a balance between standards so stringent you must flog yourself to get to your work and such a relaxed approach you never get beyond the occasional dabbling.

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About TRISTA

I write and illustrate stationery, cards, customized snail mail (yes, you can receive handwritten and illustrated letters in your mail!!), coloring books, and more. My business name is "Carrot Condo." After teaching English for 15 years (gasp!), I am now a full-time parent and part-time artist slowly, but steadily, building a creative business and life. You can read more at carrotcondo.com or see my products at etsy.com/shop/CarrotCondo. Thanks for your interest and support!!
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8 Responses to Dd: Defining Daily

  1. Minion Carrie dropping by to cheer you on! Keep up the excellent work! 😀 Enjoy your day off tomorrow and have a blessed Easter!

  2. I’m trying to see how this fits with the A-Z Challenge. If I miss a couple of days will I have failed? I’ll see how I feel if and when it happens!

  3. Posting daily on my 2 blogs is the challenge I’ve given myself for this year. So far, so good. I did it 2 years running with one blog. Did I feel satisfied, proud of myself, when the year was over? Sure, but it was more like Okay. Can I do it again? It makes me wonder if daily posting is just an addiction. Saying that is funny. See how you got me thinking. 🙂
    Take 25 to Hollister

  4. mj6969 says:

    I had a very dear friend, a writer, one tell me something very wise – because at the time, although I was a writer – I was in denial and hadn’t written anything for eons. And I was miserable and really doubted that I could actually have anything of any value to say, about anything at all. And he said this:

    We’re like wells – and we absorb all kinds of experiences, from our lives, through our work, families, friends, adventures, experiences, and we often notice the details so many other miss, and we collect all of this – it fills our well. And every time we create – in whatever form – we dip into the well, and we use what’s there. And we continue working this way – until – the well starts to run dry. Finally, when we have burnt out – the well being so arid the earth is cracked – we hit rock bottom and despair. Creating – writing – it’s not just about the act – the words – it’s about learning how to find balance – because for as important as “daily” is – it’s equally important to know that we must continuously fill the well.

    It made complete sense at the time – and all these years later, I’m finally figuring out – that yeah, I need to put this into “real-time” practice. Daily. However that is defined and works for me.

    Great post 🙂

    https://mercyjames6969mile.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/hungerd/

    • TRISTA says:

      I like the metaphor of the well, and I think forcing strenuous daily effort can dry up the well for sure (unless you’re hot on the trail of a grand project, and then I think the joy of it helps re-fill the well), and it’s absolutely true that going out there and living your life results in re-filling the well. The trick is finding the balance I suppose.

      • mj6969 says:

        It was such a powerful metaphor for me – and it still is – well on 20+ years.

        It’s true – when really into a project – we can become engulfed – but there still needs to be balance – of some sort, in whatever ways work for the individual. Unfortunately, I’m an “extremist” – I work something so hard and so furiously, that eventually, unless I actually feel the presence of mind and accept it to “step back” and stop – I burn out. Literally. The burning out is really a killer – it usually stops me from wanting to ever whatever (insert various activities: paint, write, photograph, etc.) ever again. And that bit “ever again” can last for years – decades. Sad really. But hey, that’s my truth – and all I can do is work on it – change for the better.

        Great posts 🙂

  5. Alex Hurst says:

    More good points all around… if I can get caught up with my blog reading today, I will definitely try and get some words down… but April is a pretty impossible month for me, usually, haha.

  6. Rose L. says:

    Daily…I wish I could do that but it eludes me.

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