No Time (Like Now) To Be Creative
Have you ever said or thought the following:
I want to be more creative...I just don't have the time.
Amidst all of the seemingly endless to-do's, it feels impossible to find the time, energy, and willpower to get to creative play.
This isn't to say you haven't tried. You've attended a wine and canvas event* (or promised your friend that you are definitely going to do it soon), you've purchased and hoarded crafty supplies galore (that are still stashed in your closet), and you've even read countless articles on how to get started.
But none of it feels sustainable. A project here, a dozen ideas there...but in the seeming competition between have-to's and creativity, the have-to's always win.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: Arts and crafts are not the boundaries of creativity. If the above examples don't match your callings, but you still feel the itch to be creative, don't fear! Finding time to be creative isn't just about finding time to pursue a hobby (and for some, it isn't about that at all).
The first thing to realize is that you are asking the wrong question.
You are already creative. You are always creative. You are always creating.
It's ok if you are thinking, "Yes, but I really do want to find time to paint / crochet / learn to whittle". Those times are important as well.
But when you re-frame the question, new answers appear. By looking at your life as one creative moment after another, you begin to understand that even the way you structure your time is something not set in stone...but something with which you can play. Helping you to see your everyday minutes as creative opportunities will actually help you to create time for those other projects.
A better question to ask is
how can I be and feel more creative
with my life as it is?
That question helps you to see every moment as an opportunity to express your creative self, instead of forcing you to carve out 5 minutes here or there to segregate yourself into a creative mindset.
Looking Beyond Pinterest
All this time, you've been trying to exhale more. To give more, put something more out into the world. After all, that's what creativity is, right? Creating something in the world?
Yes, but the energy to do so has to come from somewhere.
It's time to pause, and then take a deep inhale. It's time for a bit of self-awareness.
Self-awareness can help you to understand what it is that you really want - where this creative longing is coming from and why doing an hour or so a month of creative play won't make it go away.
Your creative longings desire something more than a finished project or the mastery of a artistic skill. This is why a few projects sprinkled throughout life might feel fun at the time, but never fully satisfy your ongoing desire.
It's like being hungry and sitting down in front of a buffet...but only grabbing a buttery roll now, and then coming back tomorrow for a scoop of ice cream.
You'll have a delicious experience for a couple of minutes, but your hunger won't be satisfied.
Self-awareness is a long journey, though. You can nod along while you are reading this, but it doesn't help when you turn off the screen and STILL WANT TO CREATE.
The good news: You're already creative and creating, remember? Let's look at how you can recognize it.
Too often, you get stuck in a daily routine rut. You don't take the time to examine how you are actually spending each minute of your day, and end up spending many days without actually remembering everything that you've done.
So as usual, our practice beings with awareness.
A good way to get back in touch with how you are spending your time is to keep a time log. Keep a pen and paper near you, and every time you switch activities, write down the time and the activity. Even if it seems trivial, write it down. Walking the dog? Write it down. Clearing the dishes? Write it down. Going to the restroom? Ok, you can skip that one. The important part is making a note of even the smallest of activities so that you become aware of all of the things that you are actually doing.
Try this for a week. If that feels too intensive, do it for at least a couple of days.
I've done this time log a few times, and am always surprised by what I've written. Somehow, the myriad of activities that I do in a day just seem to melt together into "busy-ness" when I reflect upon what I did that day.
In reality, as a stay-at-home mom and ongoing creator for BeingBreath, I do a tremendous amount. And although folding laundry, wiping down the counter, posting on social media, picking up socks, walking the dog, chopping veggies, writing content, sweeping up the floor, making a pot of coffee, and internet researching are all activities that are done in a few minutes here and there, collectively, they add up to a full day.
I'm willing to bet that you have many of these types of activities in your life. (Those activities that can be completed in just a couple of minutes, but that you do repeatedly throughout your week and end up accounting for many hours of your time.) When you reflect back on how you spent your week, you might remember the "big time" activities ... but everything else seems a bit of a fog.
The time log will help you to see how those precious minutes from wake to sleep are being spent.
Once you have a better understanding of how you are spending your time, then you can start playing creatively with how all of your activities are arranged. I'm not just talking about trying to carve out magical times where you have "nothing" going on and can eek out some creative hobby time. I'm talking about how you can get creative with how you are designing those myriad of minutes in your everyday life.
The Lego Method
If each minute of your day was one Lego, and those Legos were spread out before you, how would they be currently arranged? How could you slide one, stack one, connect one, or disconnect one differently?
If you have 20 Legos stacked in meal prep formation, how might you play with those? If you rearranged them playfully, maybe dinner meal prep time tonight becomes a dance. Put on some music and cha-cha while chopping (carefully). Tango between the heat of the stove and the chill of the refrigerator.
5 Legos stacked in laundry? Change the colors. Make a rainbow while you are folding – reds to your left, all the way around to blacks on your right. Add in a few Legos to change the shape. Make laundry time a combination of folding and exercise (lunge while you pick up the next item) or of folding and meditation (be hyper-sensitive to the feel, smells, colors, and memories associated with each item you are touching).
15 Legos stacked in line – maybe waiting to pick up a child or for an appointment? Teeter-totter those Legos and add in some hobby minutes. Bring a pencil and paper pad in a bag and sketch what you see in front of you while you wait. (No pressure – this is for the experience, not an art award.) Pack some playdough and sculpt. Grab your phone and voice record a few lines of poetry.
Is your Lego pile a bit more of a mess (like mine), where the minutes of your day aren't neatly scheduled and pre-stacked? Try really tapping into that self-awareness and creating what your energy calls you to create in that moment.
For example, have you been sitting at the computer for awhile? Your body knows it needs to move. Get up and switch the laundry, do a 10 minute walk, or sweep the kitchen floor.
Has your mind been stressing over writing or planning? Give it a break. Stare out the window for 5 minutes, meditate, or chop some vegetables for dinner.
Feeling dry and listless or overwhelmed and unable to focus? Spritz your face with some rosewater, brush your teeth (yep, the minty refreshment really helps), or watch an inspiring YouTube video to get your energy back on track.
Work with transitioning between this activity and that one with ease. As you do so, you'll feel more engaged with your moments instead of just pushed along by them.
And, as you feel more engaged with your mundane moments, you are given the opportunity to be more creative with how you build and rearrange that Lego pile.
You're learning how to be and feel more creative with the moments & Legos you've been given.
The Big Picture
Creative ways of playing with your time are not necessarily about what it is that you create.
You are training your mind to think in more creative ways.
Each time you shift a lego, your mind has to break out of its habitual ways of seeing (or ignoring) the moment. You are forced to get a little creative in what you think and do next.
A little bit of creativity here leads to a bit more creativity in the next moment. Tiny moments of practice build up and lead to days, months, and a life of creative engagement.
Go to work, feed the kids, and clean the house. All of these things are actually supporting the foundation of the life you want to live - they are not things that are standing in the way. If you try to fight against life as it is, you add more weight and struggle to your days.
Instead, remember to change the questions you are asking and examine the deeper reasons that you want to create.
Be increasingly willing to let go of what you think creativity is supposed to look like.
Instead, play with how it feels when you integrate it into daily life.
- Start with a time log for a couple of days to get an idea of how you are actually spending the many minutes in your day.
- Reflect on why you want to be creative, and how you want creativity to be expressed in your life.
- Using what insights you've gained, play with the legos. Slide your lego-minutes into different arrangements. Sprinkle a bit of dancing movement here, a bit of sketching there. It isn't necessarily about the thing you are creating. Rather, you are tapping into your innate desire to feel more creatively engaged in your life, one mundane activity at a time.
The more you practice, the stronger your creative energies will flow. Remember, everyone longs to be creative in this world – to feel free to create the world in which they live.
Today is the perfect day - the only place - to begin.
Instead of thinking today that there's no time to be creative, try a quick reframe...
There's no time like today to be who I already am.
Here's to your practice...