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Do It 2017!: #3 Making Time for Your Making, Doing and Creating!

January 27th, 2017 Comments off

Do It 2017

#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.

Get away

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!:

Do It 2017!: #2 Make Space and Time for Your Making, Doing and Creating!

January 19th, 2017 Comments off

Do It 2017

#2 Make Space and Time for Your Making, Doing and Creating!

Listen to this episode


One of the most important aspects of increasing your creativity and productivity in 2017 is allowing more space and more time in your life for your creative pursuits. Just like myself, I am sure you experience those days were the simple act of living takes up all your time. You eat breakfast, go to work (or do your work in the home office) and before you know it, it’s time to make dinner and the light outside is starting to fade. Sure, you got something done, but did you get anything done for yourself? Did you take some time to write a few lines? Did you pick up the paintbrush, the guitar, the loom, the knitting needles? Or, did time simply slip away as it does nearly every day?

Make It Easy: Reducing Friction

I have found over the years that the best way of insuring creativity in your life is to make it as easy as possible — as frictionless as possible — so that you are reminded of your need and desire to create each time you look up — each time you have a moment to think — each time you walk into a room.

One real world example of my own came when I started to learn how to play guitar. Breaking through the initial phase of sore fingers, memorizing chords and learning to strum takes consistent practice — at least once a day. Skip a day and your fingers hurt more, your memory fades and it feels like you are starting over at the beginning.


Keeping the guitar in its case certainly offers more protection and keeps it dust free, but it also adds a layer of friction to your practice. If I wanted to spend a few minutes practicing, I would need to open the case, pull out the strap, tuner, picks etc. It may sound silly, but that tiny amount of friction means that, more often than not, you simply won’t bother. It only takes the smallest amount of work, the smallest excuse, the smallest impediment to push creativity out of your day.

How did I combat this? I made sure to buy a stand for my guitar. That stand then sat within arm’s reach of my office chair. Whenever I turned away from the computer for a moment — even just a few minutes — I could grab the guitar — practice some chords, practice my strumming — and then put it down and go back to work. You might be thinking, “Well, that’s no way to learn a musical instrument! You have to dedicate hours every day to practice, in the right environment, at the right time. Surely playing a few minutes here and there could never work.” Well, I am proof that a few minutes practice, a few times a day, can be just as effective as long sessions. In fact, for me, had I been forced to do my practice in long, intensive sessions, I probably wouldn’t have done it at all. Again, too much friction.

Now, sure, when I was practicing for a performance, I would often spend and hour or more running my songs exactly as I would when performing. This builds comfort with the material and the physical stamina to play a longer set — both of which you’ll need in performance. But, when it comes to basic learning and practice, you often need to fit it in around everything else in your life and simply putting it in your face works wonders.

So, with my example in mind, what can you do to make it easier for you to transition from other activities into your creative activities? Is the piano covered in junk or is it ready to sit down and immediately practice a few bars? Is your loom, spinning wheel, sewing machine, knitting supplies set up in a particular area, close at hand? Is it always ready for you to start creating something? If not, you are sabotaging your own creativity — your own productivity. You are making it difficult to start and enjoy your own creativity.

It may sound difficult, but find a space where you can set up your tools, your easel, your paintbrushes, your writing supplies whatever and leave them there, ready to use at a moment’s notice. Too many of us suffer from “dining room table” syndrome. We have to use an existing family space for our creative pursuits. This means we have to setup and teardown every time we want to do anything. What a perfect way to insure that we don’t create at all.


If you are truly lacking any space, at least combine all your supplies in an easily portable container so that you can grab and go, no matter where you are or where you might be able to work. This is one thing that makes knitting and crocheting such a popular creative outlet. With a little preparation, you can take your creativity wherever you go — keeping the anti-creative friction at a bare minimum and creativity at a maximum.

The easier you make it to create, the more likely you will create. It is a simple formula. Reduce the friction and you will suddenly find time in your day — more time than you might have imagined — to create, make and do in your life!

Next time I’ll talk about how scheduling time for creativity can be another great way to move your projects forward.

Previously on Do It!:

Categories: Audio, Creativity, Do It!, Podcast, Show Tags:

Do It 2017! A Year of Making, Doing, Creating, and more!

January 12th, 2017 2 comments

Do It 2017

The holidays are a time for gathering together with friend and family AND reflecting back on the year that has past.We attended several parties over the holiday season and many other, smaller, get-togethers for drinks or dinner. In talking with everyone, one statement I heard again and again at these events was the desire to actually and concretely DO something this year.


Maybe they wanted to do more knitting or cooking or reading. Maybe they wanted to work on their new novel , take more photographs or even get more involved with politics. While the desires were quite varied, the desire to DO something was strong in everyone. Creativity is a major part of everyone’s live and when denied can lead to a life filled with dissatisfaction.

“Zorana Ivcevic measured personal growth by asking people about their continued development and realization of their potential (e.g., “In general, I feel that I continue to learn more about myself as time goes by”). She found that people who scored higher in a “creative lifestyle” (those who engaged in more creative acts in everyday life such as making a scrapbook, visiting an art museum, inventing a new recipe, and taking photographs) were significantly more likely to score high in personal growth.” – Scientific American

I know in my own personal case, when my time is completely occupied with “work” for others, I begin to feel an itch, a concern and, in some cases, an increase in feelings of depression and hopelessness. This is why, when you read my blogs, or follow me on social media, you often see a wide variety of content spanning writing, photography, music, technology, gardening and a hundred other areas. This is my defense mechanism. This is my mind screaming out for something creative, something interesting, something fun and, in some cases, something powerful in my life. I am guessing that you feel a similar pull in your life and similar results when you deny it and I feel this is why I am hearing the “create” as a mantra from so many people.

“Research has shown that creating or tending things by hand enhances mental health and makes us happy.  Dr. Kelly Lambert ( explored the relationship between hand use, current cultural habits, and mood.  She found that hands-on work satisfies our primal need to make things and could also be an antidote for our cultural malaise.” – Psychology Today


In an effort to spur my own creativity and execution of those creative ideas, I am starting this series, Do It 2017! I’ll be offering up my own experiences and 100 0177 2creative projects, interesting projects I find on the Internet, and maybe even a few interviews with others who are seeking to make something important this year.

I’d love to hear your plans for the year, too. What projects have you itching to get started? Do you need a little push to take that first step? Are you waiting on something to change in your life before pursuing these new ideas? What roadblocks — both personal and professional — stand in your way? Share your thoughts here and let’s build a supportive community of creators that can help each other move forward, even if just baby steps. I know for myself, taking action — even the smallest of actions — is often the best (and only) way of getting started. Let’s help each other take those small, concrete actions that lead to great things!

Here are a few of the projects (and general themes) I want to move forward in 2017:

  • Return to my guitar, piano and harmonica playing. Play music with others more often.
  • Create useful, cool and fun Internet of Things and other technology projects using Arduino, Raspberry PI and other technologies
  • Open a hackerspace/makerspace where I can share my creativity with other and help introduce them to the wonderful (and powerful) world of making things
  • Create other communities of like-minded people to support and challenge each other to do great thingsP7310559
  • Focus on photography more as both an artistic release and financial benefit by creating products of all sorts to bring more beauty into people’s lives
    • Aso, set up a schedule of regular photowalks to dedicate time to creating new photos
  • Find new food and recipes to add to our Recipes in Rotation
  • Travel more to both new places and places I haven’t visited in a long while. This includes some lovely places in northern California and also exotic places like Iceland.
  • Be outdoors more both in my own garden and in the amazing countryside that surrounds Los Angeles.
  • …and much more!

How about you? What are your creative desires for the coming year? How can I and all the readers here help you in your endeavor?

I’ll be posting a new idea of how I am trying to Do It! this year each week here on the blog. Subscribe here on My Word or follow me on any of my social media accounts to join in!