Raise your hand if you’re an artist with a day job (me!). Keep your hand raised if you have other responsibilities outside your job, like raising a family, volunteering, etc (still me!). Now, keep raising your hand if you have some form of a social life, enjoy watching TV or reading books, and/or other forms of entertainment.
Now, raise your hand if you have a hard time finding time for your art.
Look around. You’re not alone.
In the past eight years, I’ve managed to write and release one to two books per year, despite holding a full time job, raising a family, going to school, and taking on various volunteer positions. I don’t say this to brag, though I am proud of this. I say this because I’m just a regular person living a regular life who just so happens to write books.
If regular old me can do it, so can you.
Do you have a book you’ve been wanting to write, but it hasn’t happened? Do you have art you want to create, but can’t find the time? Are there creative things you dream of doing, but life keeps getting in the way?
It’s my goal to unblock you and help you fulfill your passion project. But first, you need to get out of your own way, because I guarantee the person who’s keeping you from fulfilling your life dream is YOU.
There are a bunch of things I could tell you about how to accomplish your creative goals, but the one thing that I think artists struggle with most is treating our art like a priority. Master this, and the rest will start to fall in place.
Here are five ways to start taking your art more seriously:
1. Get your priorities straight
Usually when you hear that, it’s because someone is telling you to stop goofing off and start being serious. Well let me tell you, art is serious stuff (though it can also feel goofy). I think the #1 problem artists have is believing all this other stuff ranks higher than doing something creative. How’s that working out for you? Yes, there are things that need to be done. You have to make food to eat. Your house feels better when it’s clean. You get paid to work your 9–5. But when your SHOULDS take up your whole day, are you really happy? Here’s the issue: you’re thinking of your creative life as a hobby, something to be done when all your responsibilities are taken care of. Tell me, when will everything else be in order? Your art is not a hobby, it’s a vital part of your life. You deserve to be creative. You’re worthy of it. When you finally realize the truth in this, head to #2…
2. Find the pockets of time in your schedule
I know what you’re thinking: “I have no time.” Okay. How many times have you looked at your phone today? How many Netflix shows have you watched this week? How about late night drinks? How many late starts to your mornings? Everyone deserves some downtime, but your creative life is just as important. If you thought really hard about it, you could probably find an extra hour each week you could dedicate to your creativity…more, if you search really hard.
2. Schedule your creative time
Once you find time for your art, you’re going to have to schedule it in. Trust me, your creative life isn’t just going to happen by accident. For me, this means letting go of some sleep. When I’m working on a book, I wake up around 4:30 a.m. I spend the first 30 minutes waking up with coffee, doing my devotionals, and journaling. Then from 5–7 a.m., the time before I need to start getting ready for work, I write. I choose this time because the rest of my family is asleep and I’m guaranteed quiet. Also, if I write first thing in the morning, I can go through the rest of my day feeling accomplished because it’s already done. Maybe you’re not a morning person. That’s fine, but you still need to schedule the time you need for your art, and this may mean you have to make sacrifices.
3. Set boundaries around your writing time
Your family and/or friends are not going to get your sudden devotion to your art. You’ll be sitting there, happily creating when you feel the tiny hand of your toddler tugging at your pants leg, your partner inviting you to watch your favorite show with them, your friends ready for a night on the town, and your mother calling to catch up. DON’T FALL FOR IT. In your creative time, these people are the enemy! Your job is not only to create, but to protect your creative time as if your life depends on it. Be firm. Lock the door. Leave the premises. Don’t make excuses, and don’t back down, because as soon as they see a crack, they’ll barge their way into your creative time and steal it for themselves.
The other boundary? Digital distractions. Set your phone on airplane mode, turn the WiFi off your computer, remove anything that might take you away from your art. You can have it back when your time is up, but for now, your art is your priority.
4. Show up every day
It takes time to build a habit. When you first show up for your writing sessions, it’s going to feel weird and uninspiring. You might sit there in front of a lump of clay, an empty canvas, or a blinking cursor for a whole hour. Looking out the window becomes the most interesting part of this time. You may feel like this is pointless. It’s not. Just keep showing up, and soon your creative mind will appear, as well. With enough practice, the moment you show up for your creative time will be the exact moment your mind and body are ready to create.
5. Take time out for things that inspire you
It’s not enough to create, you need to find things that fill the well. My favorite way is to spend quiet time in nature. On my lunch breaks, I sit by our town river and just watch the birds diving and soaring while the water rolls by. On weekends, I’ll head to the ocean or take a walk in the woods. I also read a lot, or look at beautiful things, like art in galleries or graffiti art on buildings. Find the things that make you sigh, and draw energy from them. Then take that energy with you when it’s time for you to create.
What are some ways you keep creativity in your life?
Want more tips on keeping creativity in your busy life? Check out my book, Reclaim Your Creative Soul: The Secrets to Organizing Your Full Time Life to Make Room For Your Craft. If you’re in a place where your creative life feels out of reach, pick up this book and start working the steps toward creative freedom.