#CreativeHabit 9: Develop a Ritual of Preparation

#CreativeHabit no 9: Develop a ritual of preparation!

As we all now first steps are hard – that is why it is important to develop a ritual of preparation that helps you get into creative mood and produce great results. 

So what is a ritual of preparation?

A ritual of preparation is automatic but decisive patterns of behaviour, which you perform in the beginning of the creative process. If you have a ritual of preparation it is more likely that you can beat resistance and build a foundation upon which great work is completed.

Here is the definition of the word ritual in English from the Oxford Dictionary :


1A religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order:

Thinking of your routines and habits before you start your creative work as a ritual gives the activity a transforming affect. When you have a ritual of preparation you do no longer think questions like “Why am I doing this?”. Once you get started you are committed.

We all have rituals during the day – whether we are aware of them or not. It could be to have a morning meeting with your colleagues as soon as you arrive in the office – by turning this into a daily ceremony you all get a good kick start for day and the bond between you intensifies.

Beethoven started each day with the same ritual – a morning walk during which he would scribble into a sketchbook the first rough musical ideas that came to his mind. Once he came back from his walk he would return to his room and get to work.

I heard that Benjamin Franklin wrote naked for an hour every morning to “refresh” his mind in the cold air, and that Gertrude Stein got her best inspiration in her car. She sat in in her parked car and wrote poetry on scraps of paper.

Stephen King keeps a strict routine each morning, starting with a cup of tea or water and his vitamins. Then he sits down to work between 8:00 and 8:30 in the same seat and his papers are always arranged on his desk in the same way. King claims that starting off consistently provides a signal to his mind to prepare for work, and I believe this is why it is so important to develop your ritual of preparation.

Athletes also know the power of a ritual. Micheal Jordan wore his ‘lucky shorts’ from the days at UNC underneath his Chicago Bulls uniform in every NBA game.
Tennis player Rafael Nadal takes a cold shower 45 min before every match, during the match he towels down after every point and points the labels of his drinking bottles toward the end of the court he’s about to play from and never stands up from his chair before his opponent.

As you can see all the rituals are very different, and it is important to remember that there is no ideal condition for creativity. What works for one person might be completely useless for for another. The only thing to bear in mind is that you should make it easy for yourself.

Develop a ritual that makes you feel good and ready to get onto your work. Choose a work environment where you want to be and once you find it stick with it. Find your productive window and do your work when you are most productive – not when everyone else think you should do your work and then stick with it.

What makes it a ritual is that need is not questioned. It doesn’t matter how your ritual is performed however they all have one thing in common – when you start to perform your ritual you are getting started.

'Follow the routine - get a creative pay off!' - Twyla Tharp

I asked some creatives to share their rituals of preparation to inspire you further to develop (or refine) your own:

Anne Bengard Recently I’ve felt a lot more motivated to start working if I clean beforehand or tidy my work space so it looks very organised and minimal at the end of a working day so that I come back to a fresh space the next day. I’ve also gotten into the habit of visualising how much I’ll enjoy painting when I’m not really feeling it or finding it difficult to start. I’ve also started listening to a podcast about design stories on a radio station called 99% invisible or interviews/biographies of other creatives I like….I find it really inspiring and motivating to hear these stories when I’m getting started with painting…later when I’m more into it I’ll switch to music. 

– Anne Bengard, Artist pushing the boundaries of watercolour,  www.annebengard.com

Lisa ListerI get up at 5.00 – write for an hour, longhand, go for a walk around the hood listening to an audio book, come back do 20 mins yoga and 108 gayatri mantra – I heart ritual it makes my day better.

– Lisa Lister – defender of female awesomeness, menstrual maven + author of Code Red: know your flow, unlock your monthly super powers + create a bloody amazing life. Period. www.thesassyshe.com


My GerdinI mostly draw illustrations/comics about me in every day life – or something with a feministic undertone.
I always get my ideas from listening and observing the people around me in every day life or from reading people’s opinions on the internet. When something they have said has made me irritated and been bugging me for a while, I just know I have to draw it. It’s kind of like a “final say” for me and to get it out of my system. When this creativity hits me I need three things to get in the ultimate mood: Alone time, coffee and my “techno beats”-playlist on Spotify. I never listen to that kind of music except for when I’m drawing. It just gets me in the right, powerful mood and helps me focus better than any other music.

My Gerdin, Illustrator/Entrepreneur www.lilija.com/

Polly for preacher!

First I try to simplify what I am gonna do as much as possible, as such I can beat resistance and avoid procrastination. I also work a lot with setting intentions before starting to work.

– Pernilla Gullstrand, Street artist/ Illustrator / Jewellery maker www.pollyforpreacher.com/

Now I would love to hear from you! Do you have a ritual of preparation? If so what do you do to get into work mood? If you do not perform your ritual – do you notice any difference is your productivity and ability to get started?

x Matilda

One Comments

  • Sandra May 13, 2015 Reply

    Älskar den här extra peppen!

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