March 7, 2019

3 Reasons it’s Hard to Make Time for Creativity

I think creativity is an essential part of living a full life. Dancing, painting, singing, photography – how you express yourself doesn’t matter.

What matters is the way we get in touch with who we really are that happens when we allow creativity to be part of our lived.

That being said, it is so easy to get lost in our days and not make time for creativity.

Even though I know it’s important, some days I still say to myself, “who has time for this shit?”

Here are three (out of many) reasons you might be struggling to fit creativity into your daily life.

You think you have to be an artist to spend time creating.

Our culture tells us that creativity is important.

Yet we also believe in starving artists, removing art from schools and only celebrate creative geniuses, instead of celebrating daily acts of creativity.

American culture is also driven to work harder, longer, take less breaks and generally effort our way into success. If you aren’t working 80 hours a week you aren’t working hard enough.

These misguided beliefs impact how we view taking time for creativity.

Maybe you have heard a few of these:

  • Real artists don’t trace their art.
  • Real artists don’t use photo reference.
  • Real writers have been published.
  • Real artists are making money from their art.

The list could go on, but the truth is if you spend time creating you are an artist. You don’t need permission, or a title to make art. You don’t need to make money from your art. Hell, you don’t even ever have to show anyone what you make.

You think you don’t know enough.

We have become a society of watchers. We watch other people live in reality tv. We watch other people cook on cooking shows. We don’t even play video games – we watch other people play them on Youtube!

The problem isn’t that we watch others. The problem is we watch instead of doing.

We spend so much time looking for that last bit of information, that last class or course that will help us make the art we dream of making. Because we are afraid to fail, afraid to make bad art. Because if we just learn one more thing we will be the artist we are in our heads.

But when you spend all your time looking for knowledge you miss out on actually learning.

Art is a process. Art happens in the doing. If you aren’t spending time actually making you are missing out on the opportunities to really learn about yourself and your creative process.

We spend so many years in school where we are taught general knowledge, but we also learn to ask permission for everything. We learn to tell the teacher exactly what she wants to hear. We learn to take tests. We learn to trust the teacher instead of trusting our own thoughts.

When we become adults searching for creativity we struggle because there isn’t anyone there to tell us what to do. We don’t have someone to assign, asses and grade our work.

Trust yourself. You are creative and you know enough. Try taking half the time you spend learning and searching for inspiration, and paint or draw instead.

Start small. Thirty minutes a day with the only goal being to put pencil to paper (or paint brush or whatever your art of choice is)

You are actually super busy and over scheduled.

I wish I could create more hours in a day. But unfortunately we are all stuck with the same 24.

And there is just soooo much to accomplish in that time.

We spend time working, then more time feeling like we should be doing something else – something that brings in money, or chores.

Choosing to spend time on ourselves can be one of the hardest things to do.

The best thing I have done to help with this problem is to recognize when I’m half working. You know, when you are supposed to be doing something but you are “researching” or you end up watching cat videos?

I love a good cat video but the problem with half work is that you end up feeling guilty.

You don’t let yourself relax and spend time on a hobby because you weren’t productive enough earlier. But we all need downtime. So now instead of working, and instead of working on your hobby, you end up crashing and zonking out in front of seven episodes on Netflix

If you can’t focus take a break. Stop working. It may feel counter productive but allowing yourself a full break will help you come back to your work with the energy and ability to pay attenition and get your shit done.

Then, do a time audit. Track what you spend your day doing. Where can you trim some time to make space for your creativity?

But sometimes finding a hidden half hour isn’t enough to make you get to work.

Give yourself an assignment.

Having too many options of what to spend time making can be overwhelming. Setting limits can make it much easier to get to work because you don’t always have to answer, “what do I make today?”

Try just drawing plants, or cats or your breakfast. Focus on making six-inch quilts, or spend time taking photographs of your groceries.

What project you choose doesn’t matter. But in choosing you give yourself freedom to focus.

Give yourself permission to start.

I find getting started to be the hardest part. The longer I avoid working the harder it becomes to start. I let the anxiety build up and end up feeling guilty for not working on my art.

The setting limitations to my creative practice is the technique that is helping me the most.

Right now I’m starting a sketchbook project using only black and white. I’m using a small 5×5 inch sketchbook and allowing myself to stop working after 30 minutes.

After a few days, I really feel better about my creative practice. I’m not berating myself for skipping. I’m looking foreword to filling another page.

What do you do to make time for creativity?

Tell me in the comments below or tag me on instagram @artstuffpodcast

1 comment

  1. Janet Keto says:

    Thanks for this! It spoke to me in many ways. Time auditing, setting 30 minute projects, working on art instead of watching tv, using sketchbooks for different themes—simple ways to get more art done.
    I want to look at more of your blogs and podcasts, though, so I will make time for that!

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