Making Time for Creative Practice

Image from @happsters on instagram

Image from @happsters on instagram

I have good news and bad news about having time to create art.

Bad news first, lets rip it off like a bandage. There is no magic trick to finding more time, there is no perfect schedule or perfect life scenario to make it happen. The truth is we have no time for anything unless we create the time ourselves. We make time for cooking dinner (or time to go through a drive-thru), we make time for showers (hopefully) and we make the time for sleep (even if it isn’t enough). We all have the same number of hours in a day and we set the priority. We can blame our family, our bosses or ourselves for making us too busy to do the things we want. Blame doesn’t give us our time back, it just gives our power away to others. Set a limit, make the time and do it. That is the hard ball method.

The good news is we have options.

Option 1: Make practice a habit.

We can decide that our creative practice is important to our well being and make it a priority. Put boundaries around it by telling the kids, the spouse or yourself that we have to do it. Know that for our own self-love and sanity we must make the time. Start thinking of it as personal hygiene (soul hygiene) and start making it a habit. Use all the new habit forming tricks available to make it stick.

Here are some ideas for changing habits

1.   Track where you spend your time for a week. That includes writing down the 1+ hours you spent on Facebook or watching t.v. Then make a swap, creative time for something that isn’t as important
2.   Do it for 30 days in a row to make it a new habit
3.   Get an accountability buddy. It’s so easy to fall back into the habit of not making time, blaming, wasting time. Find someone who will check in and ask if you followed through on the time you found to devote.
4.   Research how else to create new habits. There is tons of research out there on what helps make lasting change. But beware not to lose all your time to researching the change!
 Like this article:  http://jamesclear.com/three-steps-habit-change
or this one http://zenhabits.net/the-habit-change-cheatsheet-29-ways-to-successfully-ingrain-a-behavior/

Option 2: Create a practice that works for real life.

We can make it work in the little time we have for our creative practice. We can lament about not having hours and hours of alone time to go deep into a state of flow and creation or we can find a way to do what we can in the amount of time we have to devote.

Here are a few quick creation ideas to try out. Find what works for you and when you have more time you will grab it and use it rather than let it go to Facebook follies or internet rabbit holes.

1.  Tiny sketchbook. Carry a small notebook or sketchbook and your favorite doodle pen and do little drawings, little intuitive exercises or emotional check-ins. Do it while you wait for the water to boil for dinner, do it while you wait to pick up your kids, do it just before you get in bed.

2.  Inspiration gathering. Use our social media or Pinterest addiction to get your creative juices flowing. At a certain point you will be overflowing with ideas and inspiration you would have to literally sit on your hands to keep you from working on something. Get collecting and decide that it will be your fire starter.

3. A single mark.  Set up your paints or art supplies in a little (not so out of the way) space where you spend most of your time. Use some tricks you have learned about easy prep for paints (watercolor paint pans, acrylic in snap close lids) and when you walk by that space or into that room make just one mark. Make it really useful by deciding to make that mark represent how you feel in that exact moment or to release that one thing that stuck with you from a day at work. Make it the most powerful mark for emotional release and then go on with your day. You may find that you seem to make time for just a few more or you find you come back to it a bit later. Just make a single paint stroke or symbol your habit goal and see where it goes. See how all those emotions build up over time to an interesting creation.

4. Don't beat yourself up. If you haven’t done your creative practice for a while don't sweat it. Life likes to throw us around a bit, it ebbs then it flows, then suddenly we are bored and before we know it we are right back to holy-crap-crazy-time. Don’t give up and decide it just isn’t going to fit into your life, dust off your sketchbook and start back up again. Let go of any guilt.

Remember: Energy follows intention. If you decide to use art as a tool to create your life and intend to use it daily, weekly or monthly the time and energy will follow. You’ve got this!