Anthony Trollope, the nineteenth-century writer who managed to be a prolific novelist while also revolutionizing the British postal system, observed, “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.”
Over the long run, the unglamorous habit of frequency fosters both productivity and creativity.
Frequency makes starting easier. Getting started is always a challenge. It’s hard to start a project from scratch, and it’s also hard each time you re-enter a project after a break. By working every day, you keep your momentum going.
Frequency keeps ideas fresh. You’re much more likely to spot surprising relationships and to see fresh connections among ideas, if your mind is constantly humming with issues related to your work.
Frequency keeps the pressure off. If you’re producing just one page, one blog post, or one sketch a week, you expect it to be pretty darned good, and you start to fret about quality.
Frequency sparks creativity. You might be thinking, “Having to work frequently, whether or not I feel inspired, will force me to lower my standards.” In my experience, the effect is just the opposite. Often folks achieve their best work by grinding out the product. Creativity arises from a constant churn of ideas, and one of the easiest ways to encourage that fertile froth is to keep your mind engaged with your project.
Frequency nurtures frequency. If you develop the habit of working frequently, it becomes much easier to sit down and get something done even when you don’t have a big block of time; you don’t have to take time to acclimate yourself. I know a writer married to a painter, and she told me, “We talk about the ‘ten-minute rule.’ If our work is going well, we can sit down and get something good done in ten minutes.”
Frequency fosters productivity. It’s no surprise that you’re likely to get more accomplished if you work daily. The very fact of each day’s accomplishment helps the next day’s work come more smoothly and pleasantly.
Frequency is a realistic approach. Frequency is helpful when you’re working on a creative project on the side, with pressing obligations from a job or your family.
“What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.”
Day by day, we build our lives, and day by day, we can take steps toward making real the magnificent creations of our imaginations.
Tactics are idiosyncratic but strategies are universal
There are a lot of talented folks who are not succeeding the way they want to because their strategies are broken.
The strategy is simple, I think. The strategy is to have a practice, and what it means to have a practice is to regularly and reliably do the work in a habitual way.
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series)) by Jocelyn K. Glei