Creativity - Finding the Time
One of my goals for this year is to keep my creativity at the forefront of my life. Some of the dark times for me last year were when it got shunted to the back. So the question becomes - how? How do I hold it in a primary place while also working a full time job? How do I find the time?
Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this multiple times in her Magic Lessons Podcast. Time doesn't just fall out of the sky. We're not going to suddenly find an extra hour lying around on the floor. If we wait until we have enough time we will never begin. You have to make time for creativity.
There are many ways to make time. Get up an hour earlier. Stop wasting time on your phone. Plan it into your calendar and treat it as an appointment. The idea is that all you have to do is be disciplined enough to make it happen. That may work for some people, or at some times in life. But I have often found myself, at various times, dutifully sitting down at my allotted time and not being able to focus. The itch to check my phone becomes unbearable. Or I stare off into space instead of at my computer screen. Some days I just can't bring myself to sit down and even pretend to go through the motions because my day took too much out of me and I have nothing left to give. What do I do then?
I lower my target. Instead of my usual 45 minutes to an hour I shoot for 15. Instead of writing on my computer and getting words on the page I muse about an aspect of the story in my journal. I keep after it and make that my habit instead of my usual routine. What ends up happening is that as the days go by my interest in the project grows again, to the point that I start to become obsessed. It fills my mind at other moments during the day and won't leave me alone. Once that happens resuming my regular writing routine is easy.
Think about when you find a book that grabs you. Or a TV show. You'll stay up late to read or watch. You'll sneak some time at lunch, or before dinner. It's not a matter of whether or not you'll find the time. It's a matter of when. For something that completely absorbs you, you'll rearrange everything else without a second thought.
You will not always be able to raise your creativity practice to obsessive levels and that's okay. There are only so many things you can prioritize and so many hours in the day. Recognizing that it doesn't rise to the top of the list is also important information.
There are going to be periods of life when nothing will work and you just won't feel like being creative, periods when you can't muster up the energy for even the briefest of flashes, or periods when there are just too many other priorities. But they won't last forever. And when you are ready to resume, starting small may be all you can manage. Don't be discouraged. Small is better than nothing and a great place to start. If you are patient small will lead to big.
Photo by Sophia Dunkin-Hubby