Morning Practices to Cultivate Creativity

“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” - Psalm 143:8

The morning has always held unique importance among people of faith. It offers a daily altar, an undisturbed space for belonging, guidance, and peace before the coming commotion. It replenishes the fuel that allows us to overcome trials throughout the day—and it supplies nourishment for stronger, deeper, sustained creativity.

Any flourishing form of creative living begins in abundance. And morning practices are most helpful when they locate us in our own bodies, souls and creative voice—close to the ultimate Creative.

In Genesis 2, God forms humans from dust and breathes life into them. This sacred molding of soil and breathing of life is the inception of all humankind. Each day, we undergo the same process—God breathes life into us and forms us. When morning practices place our attention near this intimate, shared breath of life, in a place of formation, we can begin cultivating fruitful creative lives.

Keep The Morning Holy

Sleep is sacred; a holy incubator and a biological mechanism of rest. When we wake into the world, we are moments away from a barrage of voices. The most crucial morning practices, perhaps, help us remain incubated. Keeping the morning holy can be instrumental in cultivating creativity and clarity throughout our day.

The bedrock of healthy morning practices is in prayer and scripture. There is no loving voice, guiding touch or peaceful presence that can ground, refresh and captivate us like God’s. Cultivating an inner life rich in gratitude, repentance, and belovedness is the most essential morning practice.

What we hear in the mornings will form who we are for the rest of the day—hearing that we are worthy, beloved and enough before we have accomplished anything forges a beautiful foundation for unfettered creative living.

Begin by enjoying your morning in quiet, calm and silence. There is enough noise throughout the day; you won’t miss anything. A practice of consumption—through emails, news articles, and social media—will cripple the creative process before it begins.

In Out of Solitude, priest and author Henri Nouwen writes, “Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.”

Without intentional space, our creative pursuits may be hollowed out and suffocated. There is nothing more harmful to creativity than an empty tank, a heart of haste, or detached living.

Beginning A Creative Process

Every person has varying, complex thresholds for cultivating creativity. Some might find a guided liturgy helpful before sunrise; others might find most inspiration while lying in bed, pondering. Before pen touches paper, the creative process begins in quiet inspiration.

Begin by easing into your creative expression. You can stimulate creativity by examining your vision board, savoring your favorite artwork, or listening to music you love. You can brew a fresh cup of coffee, begin journaling your thoughts or practice a breathing prayer to center yourself on God. You can step outside, stretch and practice breathing exercises, or incorporate a morning jog to circulate mental flow.

Inspiration is all around us and easy to come by; the lies of buying more things, studying others or simple dissatisfaction with the mundane only beget consumerism, comparison, and a suffocating productivity culture. Creative living begins in abundance.

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggests handwriting three pages worth of material each morning. The goal of such a practice is to just write, even from a stream of consciousness. “Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included,” she writes.

We cannot always rely on fleeting moments of inspiration. Our threshold for creative expression only expands when we show up every day and wrestle with the process.

As you ease into your creative process, choose into morning rhythms that give the most space for you to share God’s breath of life, be formed into yourself and harvest wonder from the world around and in you. And when you do start creating, do it from a place of abundance. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included.

Words—Daniel Sunkari
Photos—Bryan Chung