#3 Making Time for Your Making, Doing and Creating!
If you took last week’s entry to heart you have made it easy and frictionless to engage in your creative pursuits by putting your tool, your instrument, your paints, and paintbrushes close at hand so you can easily transition from work to creativity and back again.
Now that you’ve set up your area so you can grab these moments of creativity, let me push you a bit further. Now, I want you set aside dedicated time to pursue your creativity. Look at your calendar and spot 30 minutes to an hour in your day that you can carve out specifically for creative work. Take the most unproductive work times of your day — 3 pm is usually when I need a break and a cup of coffee — and schedule in time. Maybe you have drop-off/pickup time for your kids? I used to get a lot of writing done, sitting in the car while Joe was at flag football and other practices. Notice when you have these “holes” in you calendar and fill them with activities that make you truly happy.
Fooling yourself and making it easy
Now, I will be honest and admit that self-imposed deadlines and scheduled time for creativity don’t work very well for me. I am assiduous about my commitments to others, but can easily ignore commitments I make to myself. I know people who use self-imposed deadlines and commitments to great effect, but I have learned enough about myself to know that I need to find other methods of making time for creativity.
One method is to find a creativity buddy who sets aside time for you. In the past, I have had several people who wanted to get together to play music and were very committed to it. Since I knew they were depending on me to be somewhere at a specific time it was easy for me to simply “show up.” I didn’t self-impose the schedule — well, really I did, but in such a way that didn’t allow me to ignore it — It usually happened like clockwork. We both received great benefit from our time and I was able to get around one of my big creative weaknesses.
In another case, I had access to high-level art training and studio time as part of my work. These standing appointments — were located just a few steps from my office — made it easy. I didn’t have the chance to go home and settle in and then try to make my way to class. I simply grabbed some dinner, carried it to the studio and began work. Again, I used the location and timing of the class to my advantage. Working around my issues and ensuring that I set aside the time I wanted and — more importantly — needed.
Sometimes you just need to fool yourself into doing what’s right for you. Whatever works. There is no need for recriminations or feelings of failure Just make it as easy as possible for your to get to the important work of creating.
Another great way of pursuing your creativity is to take some longer time away — a day, a week, even a month — to focus on your creative work. There are thousands of writing, painting and music retreats and workshops held all over the world. As exciting as that might sound, many of us don’t have the time or money necessary to study painting in the south of France or writing in Stratford-Upon-Avon. That doesn’t mean you can’t create your own retreats, though.
Lately, I have started to take a half or full day each week to get out of the house to shoot photos which I then share on Instagram over the next few days. One week I drove through the back country of Malibu. On another, I spent an hour or so at my local garden store. Sometimes I walk the local commercial districts or “play tourist” visiting areas of Los Angeles like downtown, Hollywood Boulevard or 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica.
This is another time to enlist the help of friends. I know I am much less likely to flake out on my creative time when I getting together for a photowalk or paint out. The group aspect has a way of keeping me on track and, in some ways, give me “permission” to be creative. Do you have a knitting group — a photography club — a plein aire painting event — on your schedule? If not, consider starting your own. You’ll be helping others be more creative, but also helping yourself even more.
The location is unimportant, but the time spent is critical. With each of these trips I am creating my own little creative workshop getting out of my neighborhood — and my comfort zone — with the specific purpose of creating something, If you’re an artists, pick your favorite media — pen, pencil, watercolor, photography — and spend a few hours focused on seeing things with an artistic eye.
You might not think it, but I have taken some of my most beautiful and artistic photos right here in my own neighborhood. Sure dramatic landscapes like Yosemite can certainly make creative and artistic thinking a bit easier, but there is beauty and creativity to be found all around you — take advantage of it! Just today I took a great photo of the morning sun refracting through a water glass without ever getting up from my sofa. Apply an artistic eye to everything around you and you’ll find that a creativity retreat is right around your every day,
Next time: Learning new creative skills from artists and DIY builders around the world
Previously on Do It!: