Life is always busy. There is no perfect time to create a work of art. There will always be family and work responsibilities, doubts and fears, relationships that need cultivating. Some times are more challenging than others and some people have more support than others, but no human being is immune to the pressures of life.
Creating anything requires one to work in the middle of things, whatever those life challenges may be. And each person must figure out what works for them if they are to be productive.
The most important elements of creating in the middle of things are psychological. The difference between success and failure often comes down to intention. If you intend to create and believe that your creative process and creations matter, you will find a way to work. If, however, you simply want to create or don’t believe that your creative work matters, you will not resist the pressures that push against making time to create.
Once you have the intention and claim that the work matters, then the task of making the creative time becomes one of facing the reality of your specific situation and making a plan that covers the requirements of the rest of your life and your creative work, while letting go of the need to do all the other things that others might want you to do.
Holding the Intention to Create
How can you strengthen your intention to create?
Here are a few ideas.
- Affirm Your Intention
For example, instead of saying “I want to write a novel”, start saying “I intend to write a novel.”
You can also affirm your intention to matter with a practice of saying “I intend to matter” or “I matter”. You could commit to saying it a certain number of times a day, at certain times of the day, or simply as often as possible. In any case, strengthening your intention to matter will help you maintain the motivational energy to do the creative work when life is busy around you.
- Use a ‘Big But’
Whatever your excuse for not working is, start adding a ‘But I will work anyway’ to the end of your sentence when you talk about it.
For example: “I am tired, but I will paint anyway”; “I am unfocused, but I will play the guitar for 30 minutes anyway”; “My mother wants me to call, but I will write for 10 minutes before I call her.”
- Imagine a Snow Globe
Sometimes, we get to our work space and the things of life are in our thoughts and we can’t see our way to focusing on our work. At such times, this exercise is useful.
Think of a snow globe. When you shake it up, the snow fills the globe with chaotic movement, swirling into the snow effect. Then, it begins to settle, falling with gravity to the bottom again, and eventually settling into quiet.
Creative work triggers anxiety, an inner chaos. When we decide to create, we shake ourselves up like a snow globe. The rest of life’s pressures get mixed in there with the inevitable mix of new ideas and anxieties that are part of creative work. It is all too easy to get caught up in that whirling and forget that we can settle ourselves. When it feels too chaotic around you for you to focus on your current project, think of yourself as a snow globe, and imagine that inner chaos settling to the ground and getting quiet, creating the mental space for creating.
Do you have a process for committing to your creative work even when life is crazy?