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How To Build Your Creative Self-Discipline


In 2014 I was sitting on my couch blankly staring at my television. I was bored, really bored. I don’t even remember what was on at the time as I have a notorious channel-flipping habit.

Television was so unimpressive, I got up and wandered around my house. I ended up in our home office looking for an old sketchbook and set of graphite pencils I received as a birthday gift years ago.

I was so bored, I was going to draw because I had nothing better to do.

This was before I rediscovered the magic of reading again too. So a good book was out of the question.

During this moment of absolute laziness and couch-living monotony, I was “forced” into my creativity. I had no idea this desperate moment of entertainment-seeking was one of the best moments of my life. 

It was during this moment I rediscovered my love of drawing. Pencil art was a big part of my childhood and it’s just something I truly enjoy. So here I was, once again drawing.

Something inside me said this is what I need to start doing, again, regularly. It needs to become a daily habit. I wanted it to be a habit for no other reason except that it made me feel good.


Habits Require Self-Discipline

“Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.”

-Roy L. Smith

Fast-forward a year and here I was attempting to blog about my art and selling products on Zazzle. My boredom-induced creativity turned into a side-hustle art business.

By no means am I to the point where my art and photography is replacing my day-job. But one day, I hope it can. I’ve learned my blogging could be farther along. My art could be better.

I believe and know all of this will come in time with consistent writing for my blog. My art is a lifelong pursuit that overtime will improve with practice.

But all of this requires habits to draw, take pictures, write and post regularly. Those habits require self-discipline.

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

Five Steps To Creative Self-Discipline

Self-discipline is different for each of us. What works for me, may not work completely for you. But I believe these five steps are universal and set the foundation for each of us to build our habits:

  1. Finding your purpose. This is the “why” you’re doing what you do. Why do you create? Why do you want to read 50 books this year? The purpose that is motivating you to create good, daily habits is the reason for everything. Ask yourself what do you want to accomplish and then you build your strategy from there. I want to build a successful business around my art and photography.
  2. Knowing your distractions. Once you know your purpose, you need to identify and address what distracts you. We all get 24 hours in a day. Many of us have jobs, families, grocery shopping. But many creatives and entrepreneurs accomplish their goals because they eliminate the things that get in their way. I’m distracted by reading other blogs when I should be writing my own. Once you know what distracts you, take the necessary steps to eliminate those distractions.
  3. Schedule your time. After you eliminate your distractions from your schedule, you will realize how much extra time you have in your day. Here’s the thing, you’ve always had this time, you didn’t use it purposely before. Now you can block off specific chunks of time to create, read, learn, network, whatever your purpose is.
  4. Don’t compromise. A creative life is a life full of balance. The only way to achieve this balance is to never compromise. For example, after dinner each night, I sit at my desk and draw or work in Lightroom. I never compromise. I bring my son into the fold too so I don’t miss out on him. But this is my time to create.
  5. Share your purpose. This is the last step and the most challenging. Some of us, many of us, are naturally shy or hesitant to share our work. If you’re an introvert, this is an even bigger challenge. But even introverts find success. Sharing your work, goals or both adds another level of motivation. When you share, you’re now accountable to someone else. The last thing you want to do is let that person or persons down. Some of my friends check with me to see what I’m up to and they follow my work on social media. I feel I owe it to them to keep creating.

Wrap Up

Self-discipline is a valuable skill. I say it’s a skill because it’s learned over time. We’re born with inherent curiosity that distracts us. But the most “successful” among us are disciplined in their approach to their goals.

They ignore the distractions that limit their purpose. So why should you? I hope you find value in these five steps. Bookmark this article. Write them down, do whatever you need to remember them. Don’t forget to share them with your family and friends too!

As always, thank you for reading. Tell me what your purpose is in the comments, I’d love to know!

Also published on Medium.

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