Momentum, Revisited: Routines and Habits


What makes a routine work? 

When I first started writing this blog, I had recently been to a yoga workshop, taught by Rod Stryker, called “Yoga of Fulfillment”. One of the most powerful things I came away with was the idea of a “Samkalpa”.  Samkalpa means a resolution, a resolve, or an intention. Mine is defined by my desire to have momentum in my studio time, and to feel the thread of fearless creativity running through my life, weaving what then seemed fractured, together. Since then, I’ve supervised the building of a studio in back of my home, to better integrate painting into my busy family life. I’ve been much more productive than I’ve been in a long time, and have at times felt the momentum running strong.

I’ve always gotten my household and homeschooling “work” done in the mornings, and eked out a few hours of painting in the afternoon. Most days. Much of the time, this works great, and I love the way my studio warms up in the afternoon, and the sun through the skylights. But lately, I’ve been thinking about how the first things I do in my day pretty much always get done. I don’t find myself wondering first thing in the morning, “hmm….. I have time to either take a shower or brush my teeth. Which one do I do?” But I do find myself having that mental converstation with myself over, say, painting and exercising at 4 in the afternoon. Or painting and seeing a friend. It dawned on me that the things I do first are- literally and figuratively- the things I put first. So I’m experimenting with getting out into my studio earlier (after I’ve brushed my teeth, of course!), and working a bit longer. It feels strange and different. But productive. 

One of the most uncomfortable aspects of it is not checking my email before I go out to work. But if I do, before I know it, I’m reading the New York Times online, or catching up on my blog reading- and there goes an hour. Or two. Ahem.

So I’m curious about you artists out there- what habits and routines do you have that help you get your creative work done? How have you changed unproductive habits to productive ones?

7 thoughts on “Momentum, Revisited: Routines and Habits

  1. Marilyn Fenn

    OK, I am definitely adding you to my list of blogs to check (but maybe not first thing in the morning 😉 ).

    It really does help me to just start my day painting, and leave the digital stuff for afterwards. And I’m not that good at that; my freelance job is digital, and I often feel the need to “check in” to make sure none of my clients are having an emergency. Now that I think about it, there’s another way to handle that (it’s called a phone).

    Thanks for a good post that reinforces my own thoughts about when to do what! Now to live up to it…

    1. LisaK Post author

      Thanks for the comment- it is great to hear from my readers! Yes, painting first thing is ideal. They say you can create a new habit in- what?- thirty days, I think. My daughter is going away soon for a month to CalArts for their summer program, and I think I’ll commit to making the painting my a.m. priority for that month. After coffee, of course!

  2. Marilyn G

    I found your blog the usual way — from blog to link to link etc. Your work is quite interesting — I like it a lot. I felt the need to respond to this because it’s exactly what is happening to me (and I’m retired and have no little ones at home, save the dogs). I thought I should plan three to four hours in the afternoon just as if I were going to work. That didn’t seem to work. I do like to get to the gym or do my walk first thing in the morning -7ish (or else I’ll find an excuse not to), but beyond that it just seems like the day gets filled up with errands and the computer. I like your plan — not checking your email or viewing blogs until later. I can get so lost in them. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Flo B

    Interesting post. Scheduling studio time seems to come up in so many conversations with other artists and writers I know. I am supposed to be retired but am caregiver for grandchildren several afternoons a week and am president of my local art association. And then there are husband, pets, chores – and on and on. So I work in my studio from 9 at night until at least 1 am. Then I sleep until at least 8:30. It is working. I love my wonderful quiet night studio.

    1. LisaK Post author

      I love this line, “I love my wonderful quiet night studio.” My studio is the place that I reconnect with myself apart from my other roles and responsibilities, and it is the place where I synthesize my daily experiences, process them, and find some peace.

  4. Linda Greiss

    Great post! I have just found your blog. I am just starting an online encaustic class. I am mostly a mixed media artist at this point. I am retired and am bad about staying up too late and sleeping in. I too find that if I check email first thing it is detrimental to my being productive. Usually I get in a couple hours art in late afternoon. Then after dinner until midnight. And I am not a night person. I would like to follow your example and get started early in morning.


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