Is it selfish or smart to do something creative every day?

Basket by Kimberley Harding. Photo by Ray Bernoff.

I blog here every weekday. I could lie to myself and say I do it for you, my readers.

I don’t.

Sorry, but I do it for me.

Since I became a freelancer, there is no one to tell me which jobs to concentrate on, which deadlines to meet, which directions to head. Sure, there are clients, but it’s up to me what to promise to them. Every day is uncharted.

Theoretically, I could wake up every day and stare out the window and scroll through Facebook. And just like you, there are days that’s all I feel like doing.

But I have committed to write a substantive post here every day — and I’ve done that, every day since I started on March 26, 2015. That’s 784 so far.

Thank you for reading, but you must be wondering, why do I bother? Why not take a day off. Why not write only when I am inspired?

Here is the reason: I require myself to do one creative thing every weekday. Since I am a writer, this is my creative work.

Writing every day accomplishes these goals:

  • It challenges me. I cannot just be lazy and do easy work.
  • It moves my thinking forward. Many of these posts have ended up in books. This is where I try out or discover new ideas. There would be no fuel for my next book, Truth and Influence without this blog.
  • It gets me going. Once the post is done, the juices are flowing. I can spend time on client work, or planning and promotion, or whatever ought to come next.
  • It reassures me. I still have talent, or can convince myself that I do.
  • It keeps my craft sharp. Every creative thing worth doing takes practice.
  • It gives me something to look forward to. I’m always on the lookout for new insights. Every interaction has the possibility to create one.
  • It connects me with you. My posts must be good enough to retain your interest. That’s a high bar, but it rewards me with comments, emails, Facebook posts, and tweets from you.
  • And sometimes, it pays off. Some posts drive lots of traffic, generate leads, or establish my reputation. You never know which one is a winner.

But if I’m going to be honest, the real reason is that I like to write, and doing something creative every day is just a reward for myself. It’s work, but it’s fun.

Should you do this?

Should you blog every day? No. Most people don’t have the time and energy to do this; those that do probably don’t have enough interesting things to say. (Some would say this about me.)

But you should do something.

Write a poem.

Play your guitar.

Cook.

Draw. Dance. Fold your origami. Work in your workshop. Add a paragraph to your novel. Record a podcast. Sculpt.

Make an appointment with yourself. While creativity is better with an audience, it’s not about the audience, it’s about you. You deserve it.

It won’t wear out your creative muscles, it will build them. It won’t detract from your energy, it will create more. You’ll have something to look forward to every day, and something to look back on with pleasure.

It sounds selfish. But in the end, it will help you create better work that all of us will enjoy. What could be more generous than that?

6 responses to “Is it selfish or smart to do something creative every day?

  1. I’m also a writer. I spend my day writing for clients, so what’s the daily creative outlet I choose? Writing.

    I’ve spent a minimum of 15 minutes a day writing for the last 639 days. (640 if this post takes me long enough.)

    Seth Godin says blogging daily is the smartest business decision he’s ever made. And who am I to argue with Seth Godin? So early on, I decided to turn my daily writing into daily blogging.

    But I stopped blogging daily back in November when a very smart marketer I know gently suggested that perhaps I needed to focus less on creating content and more on getting that content noticed. So I’ve been writing occasional pieces for other platforms, like this piece on blogging-withdrawal. https://byrslf.co/word-withdrawal-my-blogging-hiatus-b752dc5a84b3

    Still, as smart as my marketer friend is (and she is), it now occurs to me that she’s probably not as smart as Seth Godin. I miss blogging, for all of the reasons you state: it was a great way to jumpstart my day; it got me thinking about things I might have dismissed in the past; and, yes, sometimes it strikes a chord for my readers. I think I might have to get back to it.

    Maybe I already have.

  2. We forget to ‘take care’ amidst our daily lives. It is important to remember even if it is just 15 minutes it may be the most important 15 of the day!

  3. Thank you for writing this post, Josh. I’ve been painting (almost) every night for the past two years, and I do sometimes feel selfish for taking the time to work on creative projects. Most of the time, though, painting allows me to explore a facet of myself I wouldn’t nurture otherwise. (Also, the colors and design of your wife’s basket are fantastically beautiful.)

  4. Lovelovelove this! I’ve learned through lots of ‘analysis paralysis’ that, to keep momentum on Big Plans, I must step away from the tasks many still consider more productive. Some of the best insights have come to me while birdwatching in a forest, meditating in a hot bath or preparing a colourful, savoury plate.

    I used to blog weekly as a freelancer, then retried that earlier this year. A single mom with school-aged kids, I take my peace and insight where I can get it, until I’m organized enough with time to start sharing again. But this means two books and a poetry collection, for now, go unpublished.

    I thus applaud your tenacity, Josh, at staying ‘selfish’ with your need to create. It benefits a lot of us who aren’t in that zone.

  5. Great post. Blogging (for and until now) has not been something I thought would be worthwhile but maybe just writing for myself for a while would be beneficial.

  6. Josh,
    I am not a writer, but blog for the same reasons as you.It has become part of my DNA, and delivers credibility and a well of ideas as I talk to clients and prospective clients.
    2-3 times a week since March 2009, 1,575 up to yesterday. Lots of material for books, incomplete, despite the advice in your book. Somehow I get tangled up in the next post, and trying to pay the bills.
    Today, Jan 26, is Australia day down here, so I might just go to the Barbie and snag a few beers, maybe a post will emerge from the fog.

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