I recently posted an open-ended question to my Instagram page which asked, "What problems do you encounter most while pursuing your creative dreams”?
I was surprised at the amount of responses. I was even more surprised that almost every single response boiled down to one common factor: lack of time.
We all have exactly 24 hours in a day. By the time we sleep, eat, work, spend time with our families, we seem to have precious little time to pursue our creative passions.
I totally get it. I’ve worked a day job for over 15 years, all while married, and with four offspring. I’ve learned that I have to make every minute count if I wanted to make time for my art.
In this article, I’m going to give you three tips that can help you make more time for you to pursue your creative passions. So, let’s get started.
Step ONE: Inventory your day.
Look at your day. Where you’re not sleeping, what are you doing? Where are you “leaking” time?
Identifying your time wasters is crucial at this point. Here are some common ones (Trust me I’m preaching to myself at this point also):
· Netflix binge watching
· Habitually looking at your phone
· Surfing The internet aimlessly
· EBay or Amazon window shopping
· Movies you don’t really need to see
Fill in the blanks. You know what they are. While you’re at it, also ask yourself, “What am I doing that I can pay someone else to do in order to give me more time?”
I pay a guy to do my lawn for this very reason. For me, I almost can’t think of a more titanic waste of my time. I HATE mowing my lawn. I’d rather pay someone $30 to do it and save myself two hours all while making money on a client job to more than pay for it.
Step TWO: Break your projects into smaller, obtainable goals.
Most artists and writers won’t be able to finish a massive project in a single setting. Whether your project is a novel, a painting, a drawing, or a comic book, it will take you some focused hours. And while you won’t be able to accomplish the whole thing at once, breaking it down into smaller incremental stages, and tackling those one at a time, will bring you that feeling of creative satisfaction because you will be able to see the progress.
Breaking projects down into smaller goals will help you keep your momentum and help you to accomplish your big goals, one incremental step at a time.
I’m an illustrator, and when I’m doing work for a client, I usually break my projects down like this:
1. Brainstorm and inspiration hunt
2. Thumbnail sketches
3. Rough sketches
4. Tight sketches
5. Final art
Tackle each of these steps on different days and you will begin to eat your metaphorical creative elephants one bite at a time.
It is worth noting that finishing a project like this will also build your creative confidence. You will surprise yourself with what you discover you are capable of once you have a couple projects like this under your belt.
For instance, I didn’t realize I was capable of completing an entire graphic novel until AFTER I finished a smaller comic book project for an INSURANCE COMPANY!
Breaking your project down into smaller goals helps you maintain creative momentum and prevent time constraint discouragement/depression to set in. (Trust me I get that part)
Step THREE: Take Your Art With You
When you are going someplace where you KNOW you will be waiting, take a sketchbook and a small arsenal of art tools with you (or a journal or laptop or whatever you write with). This can be any place you’ll be waiting like the Doctor’s office, the car line at school, or God have mercy on your soul…the DMV.
Another possibility is taking it to your day job and making time to work on it over lunch break. A lot of times I will use these lunches to work on existing client projects, or start a fun side project just to keep my creative wheels turning. I recently did a retro style Dracula and Frankenstein that I started over my lunch just for fun.
And you will surprise yourself to see how working within a relatively short time period can help you to think, draw, or write more that you though you could.
One final note on this.
Remember to keep your “inner artist” on throughout the day. One dilemma creatives face is the feeling that once they walk through the doors to their day job they have to turn that creativity off until they get home at night. But I’m telling you that whatever your creative project is, keep it on “simmer” throughout the course of your day. Keep that on in the back of your mind.
Don't let it distract you form your responsibilities at work or home. But, do remind yourself about that creative project and consider that time between deep work sessions as the “passive” state of creativity. So, nudge your inner artist from time to time and make sure it’s awake.
In closing, yes, your creative time may be limited. But be strategic in how you eliminate time wasters, break your project down in to smaller goals and taking it with you.
Now, go make something RAD.