Running often is not a comfortable choice. Yet almost every day, I find myself hitting the trail for a run even though it’s much easier to do practically anything else. One reason I keep doing this is that I’m chasing that “runners high” (a.k.a. endorphins). I’m literally addicted to running. So if I don’t run for a few days, I start to feel mild withdrawal symptoms.
I find that this dynamic overlaps a lot with fostering creative habits. Great creative work can also be painful and time consuming, but that feeling of making something and putting it out there gives an endorphin-like kick to your brain. Once you’ve done it enough times, you’re hooked. It’s no longer nearly as appealing to spend most of your time on consumption activities when the lure of creating something new is right there.
Quick aside: I believe creative work is any effort that produces something new to increase efficiency in or enjoyment of life. That could be art, spreadsheets, code, etc…
So how do you foster this kind of creative addiction? It’s pretty similar to how you become a runner.
As a dad and teacher, I think a lot about how I can foster a habit of creating instead of consuming in my children and students. Scheduling blocks of open time, praising them when they “ship,” and creating a context that encourages creative work will help the next generation become creative addicts who just might change the world with what they make.