Updated: Jan 31, 2022
The last couple of weeks I have been fortunate to take some vacation. While spending my days outside climbing, journaling and painting I started noticing things about myself that are hard to notice in an ordinary work week.
I noticed when being away from home for a couple of weeks I always find myself craving creative time. A craving so strong I feel an instant need to nurture my creative life. Away from massive to-do lists hanging over my head I find a gazillion opportunities to hone my creativity during my day, and I’m cranking out paintings like my life depends on it.
I’m not surprised this craving of mine becomes so strong when on vacation; making time and space for creativity is easy when your mind is free from to-do lists. What I’m wondering though is how I can be more consistently creative all year round. How to nurture my creative life on a daily basis when all the tasks and demands of the world are taking charge of my day? It's something that happens to nearly everyone right? We get dreamy at the thought of painting, playing, singing, writing or making stuff, only to shrug it off because we haven't got time. But to quote Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
It’s so easy for creative work to get squeezed into the corners of our day. That is why I have decided to make this year the year of becoming consistently creative. On my vision board this year I’ve made this commitment sound & clear by adding many pictures of creating art, making music and being in creative spaces. I am eager to embrace my creative life and want to make it a priority. The intention is there and right now I am looking for ways to turn my creative aspirations into action.
I’m always in awe of artists who are both successful at creating amazing things and running a business at the same time. I know it takes them many hours creating the art they are selling, so how do they schedule their time in order to get those creative hours in? The other day I read this article about the life of an artist I admire who makes a living and a life as a silversmith, photographer, writer, and farmer. When talking about creativity in her day-to-day life she said this: “I don't wake up and think to myself, what things will I do for myself today that will juice up my creative power. For me, it's more about how am I going to manage my life today to make sure that I fit in the things that I have to do to stay healthy”.
To maintain a baseline quality of life she makes sure to spend a good amount of time enjoying the beauty of the land she is surrounded by and block off time to be in her studio making stuff. She prioritises the things that make her feel healthy, while also putting in the hours necessary to have a thriving business. She is very intentional about how she spends her hours, especially the amount of hours spent on creativity and inspiration instead of behind a screen.
When looking at other successful artists & entrepreneurs, they say the same things. Blocking off time for creativity and inspiration gets prioritised over screen time because if you’re not careful enough your screen time takes over your entire day.
Personally, this is my main struggle. I always feel the hours behind my screen are the most important for building my business. But are they? At the end of most days I’m not even sure which hours were worth spending behind the screen. More often than not these hours have done nothing good for my overall state of well being. Instead they have drained my energy and I feel robbed of my creative time.
The truth is, I’ve started to work for myself to have more time to create & have flexibility in my work hours. I am at home a lot to be able to spend my time differently than a nine to five work schedule. I feel I must do that every day. Otherwise, there's no point to working for myself if I don’t schedule in time during the day for other things than work.
Every day I struggle with nurturing my creative life but I do have a few things that I find necessary to include in my day for becoming consistently creative. And I hope they might help you too:
Make creative time a main priority. At the start of each day I have to block out time in my daily schedule for creating so that I don’t let everything mix together into one big unproductive mush. That way, when other tasks and demands are about to take over my day, I can firmly refuse – rather than put off my creative work by saying "I'll find time to squeeze it in later”. I also make sure to manage my time well outside of my creative hours.
Make it a routine so I never have to think about it. Once I set the intention and time of action for every single day, I don’t have to wait for inspiration to strike. Like Picasso once said: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” This might sound anathema to creativity—it’s all about inspiration right?—but I know by now from experience it’s actually the key. Like a child, creativity needs routine.
Establish a Space specifically designated for the creative project. The fact is creativity thrives in an assigned environment in which all of your essentials & supplies are ready to use. I don’t pack up my work, I keep it in sight and ready to go. This makes it so much easier for me to continue with the creative work the next day.
Hide distractions aka screens to increase my ability to deeply focus. During my block of creative time, I focus all my attention on the task at hand. I do not check Instagram. I do not check my email. I do not shoot off a text. I let my mind direct all of its energy toward one thing: creating. After my block of time I give myself permission to do all these things but never during.
Keep it fun. I experiment with different and cheap materials so I keep fear of failure out of the door. Starting with a blank, large and expensive piece of paper blocks me. Start small. This means creating lightly, without judgement and without pressure to put out anything good. I just have to try things and attend to it everyday.
The (not so) secret sauce to be consistently creative is therefore fairly straightforward: block off the time cause it will make you feel more alive than any of the other things on your to-do lists :D
You can watch my journey to a creative life on Youtube as well. In this video I share my practice & learnings so far to hopefully encourage you in becoming consistently creative!