For the past 2 years I have had one morning routine: Wake Up Make Coffee & Write.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekday or weekend, I'm on holiday, in the middle of a busy time at work, or whatever - I do the same thing each morning.
And this one simple ritual is the driving catalyst for everything I create online. Without it I'd still be that same wannabe creator stumbling around starting things, losing steam & never really finding flow.
It's more than just a habit or a routine, it's become a sacred practice. A place where I know if I turn up, things will happen. As Austin Kleon says "But if you have a sacred place & use it, something will eventually happen."
In Yoga, there is a saying that if you want to get into a regular practice you should start by rolling out your mat each day. The thinking goes if your mat is rolled out you are more likely to get on it and use it.
And it's the same for creators. So this is how I 'Roll Out My Mat' each day…
I know this isn't possible for everyone. But I've found having the same ritual each morning just helps me to get in flow faster. I don't believe there's anything special about the mornings except that it's the time when I'm most alive & the world is beeping & buzzing at me.
Some mornings it’s 5am, other mornings it’s 7am… But it’s always the first thing I do every day.
The steps for my ritual are always the same - wake up, make coffee, sit down at my computer. Tea doesn't work the same, water doesn't work the same (& I don't think it's just the caffeine in coffee).
Training your mind & your body to do the same thing each day helps it to expect what comes next - a beautiful and delicious time of creating.
Congratulations you’ve sat down ready to go. Now what? If you’re like most people you spend the first 30 minutes just trying to find things & work out where you left off.
The key to getting in flow really fast is to have everything ready to go. Wether that is preparing a few things the night before and having them open on your computer, or (like me) creating a system that you work through each morning (more on that in the next section). However you get it done, make sure you can hit the ground running as soon as you sit down.
Some mornings I’m immersed in notes & ideas. On other mornings I’m on that content creation train. I try not to lock myself into any one ‘list of things I have to do today.’ Otherwise, my rebel mind shuts me down.
So I stay open & aware of where my creativity wants to take me that day.
Well done! You’ve turned up in your sacred space. Now what do you actually do?
Just turning up is the first step. But lots of people turn up to create every day and they still feel like they are barely scraping to get things done each day.
The key is to create a system that helps you know what to work on & then guides you through a process to turn your ideas into real-life creations online.
For that, I have my Daily Creator System.
I find the best way I work is to have a few ‘options’ to work on during this time, rather than a strict list of things to do. So I created one space that brings all of these options together. It lives on my daily page which is the first thing I open every morning to get started with my day.
Here is what’s in my Creator System…
99% of my mornings start in my writing inbox which is where I keep all the notes I've taken while I've been consuming content. These notes act as prompts for thinking & writing. I choose a few to dive into, think about and write what sparks me from them.
The great thing about starting in your notes is that nothing about it is performative. You can explore ideas without thinking about attention, how to relate this to your audience or how to structure it. You can just immerse yourself in ideas.
I find this the best way to get started each day because ideas light me up. And by writing about ideas without the performative stress of 'how could this be content' I can easily explore & get clear on ideas.
Once I've spent time with my ideas, I jump into my Up Next List & find something to publish. Rather than keep a content calendar I prefer to keep a loose list of a few things that I'm in the process of writing.
Each of these has either a 🔴 Red 🟠 orange or 🟢 Green status.
Green means something is pretty much ready to publish and so I pick one of my greens and spend some time putting the finishing touches on it ready to publish.
Having something on the brink of publishing is such a great way to infuse momentum into the sacred creating time. Rather than working on hard things first, getting something done & published and having it feel easy - makes you feel like you have a creative superpower. You feel like a winner already and then you can go work on harder things using that momentum.
Once I've hit publish on something green I then work on a couple of things that are in red & orange statuses.
🟠 Orange = Significant brain dump done & needs a first-pass draft.
🔴 Red = Needs more thinking time or research.
Working on multiple things at different stages is the key to creating consistent content. You’re never ending & finishing. Everything is just a continual process of creating.
Most of this work (note writing, publishing & moving content forward) results in new ideas automatically. But I also work on deliberately generating new ideas. Ideas are everything to a creator, so it's important to keep pushing new ones into the system.
New ideas tend to come easily to me. So for generating ideas I use my REMIX board where I take my top-performing content and I:
👉 REMIX it. Say the same thing in multiple ways (my endless tweet generator is perfect for this)
👉 EXTEND it. Create new content based on questions you were asked or things you had to leave out.
👉 PROMOTE IT. Tweets get turned into essays. Essays get turned into articles. Articles get turned into threads. And so and so up the content chain.
Using your past content to create new content is one of the best ways to start to become known for your thing. Most people believe they have to keep saying new things, but in fact, the key to nailing your niche is saying the same thing over and over again in many different ways and mediums.
To build consistency as a creator you’ll need both a daily ritual and a system to help support that practice.
And it doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. I’ve been honing my systems for the past two years. But if you’re just getting started all you need to is bring together:
If you can start with simply having these three things handy and working each of them during your creative time, then you’ll be well on your way to building a system that can work for you every day to get content out consistently.