I got lucky.
In high school, I went to an arts school and majored in Creative Writing. Which meant that every weekday, I wasn’t just allowed, but required to spend an hour and a half writing.
Some days, we had class meetings, but most of the time, we were able to come in, immediately sit down at our Mac desktops, and dive into our work. Because of this, I wrote an 80 page novella in less than 4 months. At age 16.
Most people don’t get the opportunity to focus on their art in high school. And even less of us are able to put the time and attention into creating as adults.
Even those of us (ahem) who have designed our lives so that we can work for ourselves often put other things first. Like Facebook. Playing Yahtzee on our phones. Working on the less creative sides of our businesses. Or (gasp) spending time with our families.
So how do we carve out time in our lives to create?
Whether you are driven to blog or to paint or to make a quilt, how do you give yourself the gift of doing the work?
1. Stop treating your creative work like an optional activity.
Creativity often feels like an indulgence to me. A guilty pleasure. Even as I’m writing this post, I have a bunch of emails to send out, and a tiny part of me feels like writing this post is a gift to myself.
But why? Who is to say that my writing this blog post is any less important than my inbox?
In the public school system, art classes are the first to be cut. Many of us creative people shake our heads in dismay when this happens. But when we are low on time, we frequently choose to cut our creative activities first, too.
The first step to finding that creative time is really just a mindset shift. When we think of our creative work as paramount, we will find the time to focus on it.
The first step to making space for creativity in your life? Treat it as an essential activity.Click To Tweet
For me, creativity is extremely important because it lets me bring my truth into the world. It gives me a chance to heal and inspire others. It brings out ideas I can then use in my business. And when I’m creative, I am happier, which improves my relationships.
Why is creativity important to you? Find your answers to that question and use them to propel you to make time to create.
2. Allow yourself to make crappy stuff
Often it’s not a lack of time to create, but a lack of courage that keeps me from doing my work.
When I sit down to write with the expectation that I am going to write the best blog post or poem ever, it’s much harder to get myself to start. But when I give myself permission to mess around and just enjoy the process, I am much more likely to dive in and go for it.
It’s way easier to go in with the intention of creating for its own sake than it is to go with the intention of making something good.
I can control whether I make something. I can’t control whether it’s the best thing ever.
For years of my life, I started my day by painting watercolors. After writing from age 12 to 23, I took a long break from writing. There was just too much internal pressure to write something amazing.
But when it came to watercolor painting, I let myself play. Because I didn’t think of myself as a good watercolorist, I was able to let my curious child’s mind take over.
When you give yourself permission to make crappy stuff, you peel away one of the greatest blockages to creating. And you suddenly find space to make it happen.
3. Make it a daily habit.
Full disclosure – I struggle with this. A lot. But I have found that when I commit myself to writing or creating everyday, I am much more likely to do it. It’s like a gym habit. Or brushing your teeth.
Even though it seems like it’s harder to create every day, or on regular days each week, it’s actually easier, because it becomes something that you don’t need to think about. You don’t need to choose to do it – it’s already been chosen.
And, like a workout habit, I find that when I start writing everyday, I begin to crave that creative time. Also, making it a daily habit means that you don’t have to make something amazing because you’ll just be sitting down to create again tomorrow. It activates the child’s mind that I mentioned above.
4. Make the physical space to create.
Before sitting down to write this post, I cleaned for about 2 hours. I wanted to write earlier, but I literally couldn’t do it while my house was looking like a frat house the night after a keg party. (Okay, maybe it was more like a frat house before a keg party, but you get the picture.)
I also have a desk in the corner of my dining room. There is a physical location I can go to when I want to be creative. There is something solid, and powerful, and important about having an actual physical place where my creative work is born.
Wherever you choose to do your work, clear it of other stuff. Let your creativity be the only thing happening there for those precious minutes or hours.
5. Make the mental space to create.
For a long time, I would try to write while having my browser open with Facebook notifications buzzing at me every few minutes.
There was something so magnetic about that little number in parenthesis that I just had to go look at it. (You know what I’m talking about.) And each time, it would take me a good 5 to 10 minutes to get back to my work.
When I close off all other stimuli – that means closing all of my programs on my laptop, putting my phone on silent, and telling my husband that I’m in creative work mode – I am able to enjoy my creative time more. And I create better, more thoughtful stuff.
Another piece of this is clearing your head before you do your creative work. Sometimes I meditate or work out before I create so that I don’t bring a whole bunch of junk into the creative process with me.
6. Find creative ways to get past your excuses
Even as I’m writing this, I can hear the excuses from myself and from potential readers.
“But I’m super busy.”
“But I have a full time job.”
“But I have 6 kids.”
“But I need to focus on my business.”
“But I don’t have the money to buy supplies.”
Look, I get it. I feel you. (Well, not literally. You know what I mean.)
We all have valid reasons why it’s hard to devote time to expressing ourselves creatively.
And at the same time, when you really want to do something, you do it.
I want to invite you to lovingly listen to your own excuses and then do the work anyway.
I know a mom of 5 boys who still finds the time to blog and be active in her Periscope community. I know a blogger who works full time and still sits down and works on her scrapbooking passion every week. Any reason you can come up with for not creating, you can find someone else who has a similar circumstance but doesn’t let that stop her.
If you truly want to make creativity a priority in your life, you will find a solution. I promise. And if not, no worries. Just know that you are choosing not to be creative. It’s not your circumstances, it’s your choice.
Looking at it this way may sound harsh, but it can actually be empowering. Because once you realize that your reasons are really just excuses, you are empowered to figure out a way to move past them.
When you make space to create, it doesn’t have to be a gigantic space.
You don’t have to find an hour each day or go on a weekend retreat. Even 10 minutes will do.
The important thing is to sit down and to let your creative self wake up.
She is there, just waiting for you to unleash her voice into the world.
Your creative self is right here, waiting for you to wake her up. Click To Tweet