I have in my mind a perfect morning routine. It goes like this.
I wake up, spend some time praying and reading, I work out, then write five hundred words – all before leaving for work.
That is it. Simple and perfect.
But I have a newborn. And four other kids. And other life demands.
Recently, I spent some time looking for a perfect beginning to restart my blog. I soon realized that I was rusty and I wasn’t up to the bar I envisioned. Could the same be true for a morning routine?
I read this article about productivity measurements between night owls and early birds and thought, maybe I am a night owl! Maybe that’s it. There may be science behind this, but in all honesty, I was searching for an excuse, or an attempt to find perfection.
I don’t expect this from my art. Why would I ever expect this from my routine?
In her book, The Creative Habit Twyla Tharp explains that it is important to build habit into creativity. That is the biggest hurdle to a morning routine. For Twyla Tharp, the biggest hurdle is getting out of bed at 5 to get to the gym by 530. After she gets into a cab in New York City she knows she’s on her way to a creative routine-filled day.
The difficulty I have with building a routine is that I want my efforts to result in perfect. If I am going to wake, write something, and hope it impacts the world in some way, I don’t want effort after effort to not punch through the ceiling of creative mediocrity.
Here’s what Jessica Abel says about that in her article on perfectionism:
You have to be able to live with the discomfort of knowing what you want to be able to do, and not being able to do it (YET!) and putting it out there anyway.
Authors and artists David Bayles and Ted Orland Put it this way in their book Art and Fear:
Making art provides uncomfortably accurate feedback about the gap that inevitably exists between what you intended to do, and what you did.
And goes on to say:
Your job is to learn to work on your art.
This brings us back to the title. Can you be okay with just okay when you are getting in shape? When you lose one pound instead of the goal of five that you set?
This is the part of pursuing art that I am trying to understand. I know there is a way through, where blogs like this will cease and I’ll present you, dear reader, with something of more substance.
Until then, let’s not give up. Let’s battle through the mediocrity to something great in our work, in our routines, and in our lives.