Why Saying “I Don’t Have Time To Create” Is A Lie

I know, I know. If only you had more time, of course you’d be more creative.

But there are so many other demands in you life, that putting aside time to do something as “selfish” as creating art always gets bumped way down the to-do-list, and never really gets a chance. Am I right?

There are two crucial points here about the situation you’re in:

1. It’s not really about not having enough time.

We all have the same amount of time, we all have the choice what we do with it. I’m not saying you’re not busy, or don’t have a lot of stuff to keep up with. But it’s of your own making, and you have the choice which things you give priority to. Just becoming aware of this is a big step towards not feeling so powerless and out of control, and so short of time to spend to creating, should you to choose to.

2. Creativity is more important to you than you give it credit for.

Can you actually imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t create at all? What would it be like if you didn’t have a single creative thought or you didn’t do anything new that you hadn’t done before? You might as well be dead, because your creativity is active in everything you think and say and plan and do. You can’t switch it off, it’s there every moment of every day, not a weekend luxury. But it’s easy to forget this.

When we feel we don’t have enough time to create, it’s because a combination of these two points above come together and convince us that there’s no other way, that we’re stuck the way we are.

Because we feel we don’t have enough time to create, we create less, then we forget the importance of creativity to our life, our happiness, our well being.

Then because we’ve lost touch with creativity and its vital role in our life, it becomes even less of a priority, and we give it even less time.

And so the downward spiral towards a life virtually bereft of creativity continues. Which, for someone as creative as you are, is an absolutely tragedy and a waste.

image: mushi_king

The complete opposite of this, is also a spiral that feeds itself. Except it’s a positive one.

We spend time creating, remember how much we love and enjoy it, how it gives us something that nothing else in our lives will ever give us. Then we’re motivated and committed to prioritise it even more,  give it more time, and so we become more creative, more calm, more fulfilled, more happy.

This good feeling then spreads to the rest of our lives and others around us, meaning you wonder why you went for so long without giving your creativity this importance before.

How do we get into this positive upward spiral?

There are two great steps you can take here:

1. Just commit to creating every day.

It’s very simple, and far easier to do than you think. Just give yourself 15 minutes each and every day to get away from distractions and create. It doesn’t matter what you create, but keep it to something that can be done in 15 minutes, like a writing a poem or short story, or taking a few photos, or sketching. The most important part is not what you create, it’s that you’re creating for a minimum amount every single day, so you build it as a powerful habit.

2. Remember how amazing it feels to be creative.

You’ll start to realise this again once you start creating regularly, but you can give yourself a helping hand too. Sit down and think about a time when you were highly creative. When creativity just gushed from you in floods. How you felt invincible! We’ve all experienced these times. Write down how it felt, in as much detail as you can. Think about how it felt with each of your senses. Reconnecting like this will help you remember how crucial creating is for you, and it will naturally motivate you towards bring these kind of experiences into your life more often.

Follow these two steps and you’ll realise that creativity is such a core, indispensable part of you, that in fact you can make just as much time to create as you wish.

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6 thoughts on “Why Saying “I Don’t Have Time To Create” Is A Lie”

  1. Hi Dan,
    Just found your blog. Great article on creativity and time.
    I’ve been thinking about this subject for some time.
    Your idea on creating something that only takes 15 minutes is great.
    Yes we need to choose to create, and to remember how we enjoyed it. But life can be complicated. There are family & work commitments, distractions (some pleasant). Self limiting beliefs, and an overly narrow definition of what creativity is.
    And we live in such a Start/Stop world, so real creative time can be chopped up into ever smaller increments.
    One thing creative people crave is big chunks of un-interupted time to create, in solitude. The same creative solitude we enjoyed as kids.
    I’m not always as motivated to start if I’m sure I’ll be interupted. I have a dedicated creative space and ‘I need to create days’, which helps.
    And a family that knows I need that (most of the time).
    It’s the ideas that must be stronger than resistance.
    Dan, keep up the great work.

    Here are a couple of quotes I found:
    • To be happy we must be guardians of each others solitude.
    • The biggest killer of creativity is middle age.


    1. Hey Steve, thanks for the insightful comments.

      I agree about life’s complications, and about the large uninterrupted chunks of creative time. I believe that creating daily is vital, so we can maintain that underlying level of creativity that can then explode when given more time and more freedom. It’s a way of keeping our creativity simmering away, so when when we want to really get bubbling, we only have to raise the temperature a few degrees, rather than trying to go from stone cold to boiling hot at the drop of a hat.

      An analogy I’ve used before is like an athlete training each day to maintain her fitness for big events, like regional championships, national events, the Olympics. She needs to build that basic strength and fitness and agility that only comes from regular training and practice. I believe it’s the same principle with creating.

      I love the quote about guardians of each others solitude. Ultimately, for all of us, our best creative work is done in isolation. Having people around us that support us, and understand this need for time alone without distractions is absolutely invaluable.

      Thanks again for the input and encouragement,



  2. I’ve dealt with the consequences of putting creativity first over things that should have been done, and vice versa. It’s a balancing act. Sometimes I visualize the negative consequences and decide if I’m up to dealing with it. Sometimes I just can’t and promise extra creative time for myself on another day. *sigh* Oh, to be a kid and not have those pesky grown-up responsibilities! ; )


    1. Ha ha, yes being a grown up is no fun sometimes!

      Seriously though Diane, balance it’s so important like you say. It’s different for each of us, and day to day it may be different too. I would always encourage a minimum amount of creative time each and every day, even if it’s a 5 minute journal entry or a couple of photos. Then, as you find more time, you can create more.

      Thanks for your comments.


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