When we’re feeling overwhelmed with commitments and demands, pulled in every direction with yet another pressure on our time and energy, it can feel hard to find any time to create.
When we do finally set aside a little slot of creative time, rather than switch off all distractions (internal and external) and just get down to creating, more usually we spend most of this time glancing nervously at the clock, wondering how much more of this selfish creative indulgence we can justify.
It feels like we’re stealing this creative time from other activities that are most pressing, more “important”.
With this attitude, it’s inevitable that we don’t allow ourselves to create anything like our best work. We end up feeling not only guilty that we’ve spent this time on creating and have nothing to show for it, but also feeling more artistically frustrated than ever.
Which, of course, means we’re even less likely to commit time to creating in the future. Why put ourselves through this same torturous struggle over and over again?
But what if we’ve got this completely the wrong way round?
What if the crime of theft was actually being committed all the time we’re NOT creating?
What if the time we spend on anything OTHER than creating what’s important for us to create is actually the stolen time?
How would this new reality change our outlook, and our approach to creating?
I suspect it would mean creating would feel more like this:
When you sat down to create, you’d feel completely at ease with having committed this 15, 30, 60, 90+ minutes to creating. After all, exploring and expressing your creativity is something of central importance in your life.
(Can you even imagine a life without creating? No, I can’t either!)
So you would give your full attention to your current project, and easily slip into that wonderful time- and space-defying state of pure creativity where you’re so immersed in the gloriously gushing warm waters of what your creating you forget where you are, what time it is, maybe even who you are. (Remember this feeling? Let’s bring it back.)
You’d only emerge from this happy consciousness when the alarm sounded on the timer you’d set when you sat down to create, right after you removed all clocks from view so you couldn’t keep glancing at them even if you wanted to.
Whenever you weren’t in one of your creative sessions, you’d be thinking about when the next one was, planning and plotting, letting those brilliant ideas simmer away at the back of your mind in the meantime.
You’d also be feeling that THIS was the stolen time, and you’d do all you could to review and revise how you spend your hours, days and weeks, to ensure that as little time as possible was stolen from your creativity from this point on.
Does this alternative way of approaching stolen time, and creative time, sound like one you’d benefit from and greatly enjoy?
It’s all completely within your control.
You have choices in what you commit your time to.
Stop stealing from your creativity – that core, living, breathing, pulsing part of you that’s constantly whirring away inside waiting for the opportunity to explode into gorgeous sound and colour – and give it back the time it deserves.
Make creative time top of your To Do list each day. The lowest it’s allowed to be is fourth, but that’s only when Breathe, Eat and Sleep are the items one, two and three. (And even those are negotiable.)
You can start with just a little time each day. Say, 15 minutes. It’s an amount that any of us can steal back for something as vital as creating.
Start today, do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. In a few weeks, when it’s become second nature, increase the time to 30 minutes.
Step by step, day by day, you’ll steal back your creative time.
And, step by step, day by day, you’ll steal back yourself.
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