Creative living over the span of a whole lifetime can present quite some paradox. Particularly if you consider a creative life to be one that produces plenty of recognized artistic output during the course of its several decades. Sustaining the delivery and quality of output over such a period of time requires strong discipline and some particularly robust routines.
This is where the paradox comes in, because the concept of creativity is generally not associated with the rigours of discipline and routine. They would seem to cut across the very nature of inspiration and imagination. Ideas of a creative life tend to be linked, rather, with the spontaneous freedom of a bohemian existence. And yet those who achieve a level of mastery and artistry in their creative field have, almost without exception, done so through many years of sustained and disciplined effort.
So when you begin to think about designing a creative life for yourself, the grand scale of it can be exciting but often rather daunting. Where on earth do you start when you've got a whole life to plan and create? Will you be able to withstand the degree of sustained discipline and effort required of you? Will you get blocked?
Julia Cameron writes in The Artist's Way: "Blocked creatives like to think they are looking at changing their whole life in one fell swoop. This form of grandiosity is often its own undoing... Fantasizing about pursuing our art full-time, we fail to pursue it part-time - or at all."
Any grand plan, any change of habit always involves taking one step at a time. So while it's important to know the color and flavor of your very own big picture, it's actually just the backdrop for the actions you're going to take today, tomorrow and the day after. Be very careful not to let the sheer scale of your ambitions for the future prevent you from taking the first small steps toward your dreams today.
Taking one step at a time means that you hold the big picture in your imagination as the vision you're moving towards. It's important to hold the wider vision so that each step you take on a daily or weekly basis moves you in the right direction. But at the same time you need to be aiming for smaller, short-term, tangible goals consistently. As time passes and you work your way through a series of shorter-term goals, you'll be able to look back and see each small achievement as one in a series of stepping stones, leading you with a hop, skip and a jump to your bigger dream goals.