Overcoming the Time Constraints and Excuses That Get in The Way of Creative Work and Staying Inspired.
If you're anything like me, thinking about new ideas and being creative is one of the things I love most. Yet finding the time for creativity and hobbies seems impossible some days. Am I right?
I get it. If there's one killer of creativity, it's time constraints and having a mind that's too busy.
I wanted to share some of what I have going on and offer some insights as to how on Earth I'm managing to get it all done.
Finding Time To Do Freelance Work
I'm currently illustrating two gig posters for some pretty hugely famous bands. These types of projects are awesome. First off, I'm getting guaranteed exposure to millions of these bands' loyal fans around the world. That type of street cred is gold. That is both motivating and validating for me to make sure I do a great job. There's also the extra dough that comes in from these assignments. Being an artist means that my income is rather cyclical and unpredictable. So when these projects come in, I'm so grateful to have the extra dough for my family. Kids ain't cheap.
Whatever you're working on (or wish you were), do you have a guaranteed pot of gold at the end of the rainbow waiting for you?
If you're like most of us, the answer is a big fat “no”. That's ok…You can use your imagination to incentivize yourself. Want to go on a trip or buy a new surfboard? Want thousands of fans to tattoo your work on their bodies? Want more money? Manifest it!
Manifest A Reward To Incentivize Creativity
Close your eyes and imagine what those things would feel like. Make a vision board. Talk about those things that you want as though it's guaranteed. It's been scientifically proven that our thoughts can trigger the same biological and neurological signals in the body as the real thing. When you believe that you'll be rewarded, you act more confidently and you come off of fight or flight mode. You can go into your projects being more relaxed believing that it's not a waste of time.
Of course, both of these freelance projects are due at the same time, within the next week….Eeeeek. I'm not going to lie, that is stressful. Deadlines and time limitations crush my creativity.
I handle this first in a practical sense. This means that all other things are put on the shelf for a week to make sure I have extra time to do what I need to do. Anything in my life that doesn't serve my family, my health or my work is taken off the list. Bye-bye random articles on Flipboard…see you later extra show on Netflix…Adios trip to the skatepark.
Finding More Time For Your Art
I'm shocked when I hear friends complaining over not having enough time for their creativity or hobbies when they're spending time doing things that don't serve their higher purposes. Here are a few of the things that might be clogging your creative bandwidth.
- Watching or reading the news
- Going out to bars too often
- Watching Reality TV shows
- Sleeping more than 7-8 hours a day
Every day I wake up before my three kids and wife. Usually around 6am. Although since I started to take CBD at night, I've actually been sleeping and way later than I used to. I started to go to bed a little earlier to make sure I'm awake when I need to be.
When you have three kids born within 18 months of each other, sleeping still feels like a luxury, so almost nothing gets in between me and a full night's sleep.
I don't care how much your work or how much espresso you drink, it's not going to get all done. Your goals and to-do list are going to self-replicate like bacteria in a petri dish.
A bit of advice…Do what you can and then forgive yourself for not finishing.
Using Meditation to Prime Your Day For Creativity
I love those early morning hours. I begin each and every day with meditation to become present and calm my busy mind. I can see where my thoughts are trying to take me and I often get flashes of inspiration during this process.
A lot of people that I coach tell me it's hard to stick with meditation. It was for me too. At first, I'd try to meditate and I kept forgetting that I was meditating and my mind would start wondering. I found this app by Sam Harris that I swear by. If nothing else has worked for you, try it out. Here's the iTunes link.
After meditating is when I choose to write. I have found for me that this is the best time to express myself in words.
If you haven't tried implementing some sort of mindfulness practice into your life, I'd highly encourage you to do so right before working on your craft or art.
Writing My First Book
I have been writing and editing my first book which I hope to release by early/mid summer. The book teaches and shares the mindsets and lessons of my creative journey from childhood through now. I share failures, successes, and formulas that work for me to remain inspired, avoid procrastination and develop a business mindset as an artist.
This phase of book writing seems to be taking as long as the whole first 3/4 of the book. Each day I spend 1-2 hours on it.
I'll be honest, some parts of it feel like torture. If you want to achieve anything with your craft, art or hobby, just accept that a lot of the time, it won't be fun. Those growing pains are necessary and anyone who is good at anything understands this.
Updates on My Book-Writing Process
I am working with a Developmental Editor. Ann is amazing!! Since working with her, I feel like I've re-written the entire book several times over. I love and hate how much she pushes me. She's been going through each chapter, line by line and sending me questions, comments and prompts. Just when I think I'm done, she'll push me to do it over again.
My bar has been raised so high and I feel that my writing abilities are really improving because of her. If you feel that you aren't living up to your potential, I strongly suggest that you look into hiring a coach. There are coaches for business, fitness, writing, and art and if you spend a bit of time looking into options, you'll find someone that resonates with you.
Finding a Tribe or Professional Coach
It's so easy to be too close to your art or business and not seeing it from an outside perspective can really limit your potential. This is one of the ways that I've been able to help a lot of people with my Creative Coaching services.
I'm started to narrow down ideas for subtitles now. I'm making sure that all the lessons and mindsets that I'm teaching are clear and practical. I'm going through chapter by chapter and making sure it's cohesive and interesting and I am so thrilled with it so far!
I've also begun to work on a Kickstarter campaign (stay updated!) and launch strategies and think about concepts for the cover art. A lot of this is stuff I know nothing about, but I really love learning new things.
Thankfully, I have a bunch of very successful author and publishing friends like Steve Scott, Azul Terronez and Karen Rinaldi that are happy to help me. If you don't have such talents in your corner, go on Facebook groups and find a community of creatives in your genre or look locally and find a group that supports other people in your area of interest. There's so many resources out there if you just look for them.
Making A Structured Routine For Creativity
I also started a new painting and have finished the underpainting process. This means that I've completed the basics of the painting in monochromatic tones to set up the rest of the painting with a solid foundation. I try to paint midday or in the evening when I know I can block in at least one hour of time.
I'm feeling confident that it will turn out well, but these early phases are so rough that it would be hard for anyone else to see any potential in what I'm doing. My goal is to finish it within the next month.
Of course, this is in addition to being a stay/work-at-home dad of my three little kids. That's more than a full-time job in itself. Annnnd then there's the Podcast that I co-host with Chelsea which has been taking about 4-6 hours a week to record, prep, edit and promote.
In case you haven't gotten the lesson here, I'll be more clear with this summary:
- Progress happens little by little.
- Take mini-steps daily.
- De-prioritize anything that's not serving your higher purpose.
- Remove excuses.
- Be honest with yourself where your time is going.
- Look for ways to reward yourself (whether real or imagined, it doesn't matter).
- Be disciplined and structure your day to create.