Julia Cameron’s comments about structure in The Artist’s Way for Parents rings a few dozen bells for me. I wholeheartedly concur that the key to creativity is not total freedom, but freedom within established limits. The freedom comes in determining those rules and limits for yourself before you begin your work.
In my case, I’ve found that I do my best work when I set up rules. In fiction that’s called world building. In poetry, form. In nonfiction, it’s an outline. In addition to the form/structure of the work itself, the form structure of my workday also makes a significant difference. A strict schedule including breaks to go for walks, meditate, or watch TV also all make a significant difference to me.
This is actually something I am struggling with at the moment, since I thrive on schedule. Clearly the move and my new environment is forcing at least to some degree an alteration of schedule. My health and the medications I am on also factor in: I have a hard time rising before 10 am most days, and I get the most (if not always the best) work done between 6 am and 10 am. While the west coast – at least this part – seems to consist of late risers/second sleep folks in my neighborhood (get up, surf, go back to bed), and I do work from home, it still feels like I miss out. Getting up earlier would usually at least get me a better shot at a treadmill at the gym, for instance.
I was having trouble with schedule in Minnesota, too. There’s been a lot of disruptive influences so I’ve been working on settling that, and striking as needed. Here’s hoping that I get it worked out!