better creative practice

Over the years, I have heard many people express they would like to be more creative in life. Some of those same people shared they already knew specific things they would like to try creatively. This included things in the arts such as writing, performing, sculpture, or painting. But it also included more everyday practices such as cooking, home organization, or sewing.

There are many reasons that prevent people from moving forward with their creative pursuits, and one very common reason is that people get too quickly attached to the final product or creative outcome without first being aware of a key aspect of the creative process. That key aspect is called practice.

There’s the expression, ‘practice makes perfect’, which in reality means, ‘practice makes improvement’. Practice is most effective when it occurs in small steps, even baby steps, but is performed regularly with a desire to improve either in skill, knowledge, or creative outcome. Within each small step of improvement, it is important to realize that perfection is not the goal. And certainly throughout the process of practice itself, things at times will seem clumsy, not pretty, awkward, unresolved, and downright frustrating. These seemingly unpleasant characteristics are absolutely mandatory for better creative practice and progression towards achieving a creative goal.

Here is an example of practicing to improve. Some paintings I create require more planning than others, especially as it relates to color selection. As a tool to help me choose colors, I wanted to create display boards of various shades and values so it would be easier for me to reproduce a particular color onto a canvas. You can see in the photo below, Practice Trial #1, the exercise was approached quite freely with little attention given to neatness, layout, or format. However, by simply engaging in ‘practice’ with a desire to improve, I was able to come up with quick ideas to make the display board better. Which then led to Practice Trial #2 and proved to serve my needs for helping select colors for the painting I was working on.

Neither the process nor outcome was perfect, and could easily be improved upon further, but it helped accomplish a creative goal.

Practice Trial #1

color swatch samples

Practice Trial #2

Color Swatches 1


2 replies
  1. The Velvet Chameleon says:

    Great writeup, Monte! Practice does make perfect. Sometimes people can’t seem to “find time” (which is a poor excuse, anyways). Whenever someone tells me they are interested in learning guitar, I always give them my number one tip: “Always just have it in your hand. Either when you are just chilling at home, or watching TV, just have it in your hands.” That’s how I learnt guitar; constant noodling while watching the Simpsons 😉

    • Monte says:

      That is an excellent point you make about simply having the guitar in your hand. Almost like the instrument could be saying, ‘No pressure, but I’m here for you’.


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