Do It Daily
While this post is a part of Peevish Penman's blog fest about writing, it actually applies to any kind of creative work. I'll talk about writing, but it goes the same for painting, making music, origami folding, whatever. Actually, it's a simple truth that works for any area of human activity, not only for artsy stuff. So feel free to translate it to your area of expression.
The simple truth is: if you want to do it good, you have to do it every day.
As Picasso said:
Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.
Whatever we'd like to think about the organ that made us what we are, the brain is a lazy bastard. As anything in the nature, it will go the easiest route. And the easiest routes are those that were walked over many times. No, I'm not saying that you should run into mainstream and copy the most popular artists. I'm saying that you should go your own path every day. For the sake of walking, and making your working route the easiest one.
Actually, it's not any different than going to the gym. The first couple of times it's painful and hard and you passionately hate it. In a week or two, it's not hard at all. Your muscles are ready for it. In a couple of months you're craving it. Your body will state (or even scream) its urge for exercise if you skip it for a week.
Same goes for writing or any other creative effort. At first your mind behave like a spoiled child, refusing to do what it knows it likes. Be firm and insist. Small bribes, like a new pen, chocolate or promising a night out, are allowed. Just break the ice and start forming a habit.
photo by Visions Photographiques
Or you can think of it in other way around. Your muse talks to you. Whether you are aware of it or not, it does, and does it most of the time. But only if you listen. Let's be real, nobody will talk to you forever if you're not listening. So listen to it and write those words down.
Speaking of which, you are not allowed to be cheap. Don't hold ideas for some better times. I've heard so many times Oh I have this great idea, but I'll keep it for the future when my skills improve. No, you won't. It's now or never, baby.
Ideas are made of fragile substance and will rot if you leave them unattended for too long. And your skills won't improve if you don't execute your great ideas. If you have a single good idea now, you'll have dozens in the future. Unless you behave like a douche and tame them down. Inspiration well becomes richer the more you drink from it.
But give yourself some days off too.
Yes, this is contradiction to all I said before. But from time to time your muses need to hide a bit and do their intimate stuff. Give yourself some time to observe and absorb. Give your muses some time to brew the ideas. But only after you got into the steady route and when starting the daily ritual is not painful at all.
This doesn't mean you should stay in bed being lazy and doing nothing. This means to switch your area. If you are a writer, go and draw something. It doesn't matter that you're not the best draftsman in the world. You just need to give your mind a bit of fresh activity, it's not mandatory to create a masterpiece. though you might get surprised. Also, go walk, swim, spend some time out with friends. You've been writing every day long enough to forget for how long you're doing it. You've deserved it. The best of all, you know that you are actually still working. Isn't your job magnificent?