Sunday, November 4, 2007

Finding Time for Creativity

I found this interesting quote on Seth Godin's Blog (via Skelliewag):

"99% of the time, in my experience, the hard part about creativity isn't coming up with something no one has ever thought of before. The hard part is actually executing the thing you've thought of."

This is true -- I have so many ideas, and spend time thinking about how I'm going to do them someday, but I don't have time to do them. Either they are huge projects that are too daunting, or they get pushed aside by the chores of daily life.

How do people find time for their creative projects? If everyone writes one idea, we'll have a list to inspire each other.


Peter said...

Start small. Don't look at the project as something big. A doodle of the imagined cover of your book is enough for today. A later to a friend telling them about your idea is plenty for this evening's "little push forward." Most of my films and books have started this way. Little pushes forward help convince me and those around me that the project is now in motion.

Peter said...

I meant - a "letter" to a friend. Was not sure how to edit my goof.

Renee Kurilla said...

My problems are all the ideas I come up with WHILE I'm trying to execute others :) I carry a mini sketchbook with me everywhere. (I'm sure you must do the same) Even if I can't figure out how to draw out an idea, I'll write it down. Another thing I do is write brainstorm lists. I have a great ongoing list of everything I loved as a little kid.

One thing I am waiting on, is a sewing machine. I've wanted one more than anything for so long but I'm waiting until I can have a place to sew. (Until then, I'll sew by hand ;)

What I need help with is figuring out my biggest long term goal...having a studio all my own to make a mess in :)

Peter said...

My sister, Renee, (not FVRK) found this gem:

"renieuk: IT IS HORRENDOUS!!!!!!!!"

Brian Grossman said...

I have no idea how to find time for creativity. Wait... is it November already? Finding time for creativity was my New Year's Resolution (for real).

I have a bunch of unfinished creative projects... not to mention that I need to regrout the shower, paint my fence, and get a friggin' haircut.


John L said...

Okay, I'm sensing a pattern -- everyone is busy, and we grab scraps of time here and there. I think the hardest part is sticking to it, and finding those bits of time.

J.K. Rowling was a single mother when she started Harry Potter, and I found this interesting quote about how she worked around her baby's schedule:
"I used to put her into the pushchair and walk her around Edinburgh, wait until she nodded off and then hurry to a cafe and write as fast as I could. It's amazing how much you can get done when you know you have very limited time." Now, there's a dedicated writer!

Allie said...

I know this post was from two weeks ago... but much like this post seemingly turned into being about (not having much time)- that's precisely what happened. I do have things to say however!
A few years ago I used to get most of my work done in the wee hours- I'd go for three days without sleep and get a ton done, then sleep for a day. I guess that caught up with me though because I can't function and get sick if I'm not sleeping 9 hours a night. So now my solace is found in the few hours I have between coming home from work and falling asleep (throwing cooking and cleaning and all that jazz y'all surely know about too). When I'm finding a lack of motivation to make art just for fun, is generally when I create the things which mean most to me because I figure out what it is that's bothering me (causing me to loose motivation), and write a book about dealing with that- which generally makes the motivation come back. Most of the time because it's something I've written for someone else- word that I think might help them.
I think the key to finding the time, is making the time for creativity not just something to do in spare time, but something you need to thrive and to express yourself in ways you can't otherwise. Of course, everyone works differently, so I'm sure there's a gazillion other ways to find time for creativity!
Here's a short list I can brainstorm:
-Carry a notebook and sketch whenever your focus doesn't have to be on something that could cause immident doom if ignored (ie. while operating machinery.)
-Draw when talking to friends, pay attention to them, but if they're you're friends they'll be happy your drawing and talking at the same time!
-Take public transportation so you can have time to think in your own bubble while being taken somewhere.
-If you have families you fear neglecting, make them a part of it. If you want to draw and have little kids (ok- easy enough said for someone without kids, but... this is how I hope it to be id I do have them someday!) have them draw their ideas too. Or if they get tired, photocopy your drawings and have them color them for you.

I agree a lot with Pete over the telling friends about what you're doing, because if you keep something to yourself there's that awful possibility of it never coming to fruition. Though if you include someone else in your ideas/plans, then its out there in the air- and hopefully they'll ask you how it's going, and that could motivate you to actually do it.

Bob Flynn said...

I'm at the tail end of my vacation...2 weeks of complete and utter free paradise. And I haven't pulled out my sketchbook once. Haven't considered my art in any way. You'd think I'd want to record my experience (besides taking a boatload of pictures) in some art form. It's simply because art-making is not on my mind right now. I'm just sitting back and having a good time, taking a vacation from myself and what I do every day.

So, I'm gonna offer a point somewhat contrary to what most of you art saying. I really don't think it's about free time at all. If you have something significant to create, you'll find the time, and make it happen. Finding time for creativity is about shear will power, in my experience. Sure, a lot of it is about setting aside time to make sure you can work, but I wouldn't go around feeling guilty or distressed. I'm often most productive when I'm extremely busy. Free time is often spent on other things.

If I could give advice, it would be to not put so much pressure on yourself. You're creative all day, and your mind naturally wants a break. Work on small things, like Pete said, because they are more managable. Sketchbooks are a great time to brain dump thoughts, doodles, and ideas.

If there is something impeding your creative process, do something about it! If you have a great idea, don't let anything stand in your way! But don't forget that making art is kind of should be a little bit of a struggle.

Besides Pete, most of the productive artists I've known are generally reclusive people, because they spend more time with their art. Pete somehow discovered the 36 hour day. I think I made the most art when I was in high school because I was a bit of a loner and didn't socialize. The current balance for me is learning how to balance my art-making time with the time I spend with my friends and the time I spend just wasting time and having fun.

Anyway, fun thread! I'll be back in Boston in a couple days. Ready to explode with creativity!

John L said...

Thanks for all the great ideas! It was very inspiring to hear from so many people.

I guess rather than “finding time for creativity”, we should really call it “making time for creativity." :)

Bob Flynn said...

One more thought. I think what Seth was getting at was truly the act of EXECUTING a creative idea...which includes all sorts of pistons firing at once. Time and motivation, probably being the two most important.

jonah said...

This entry struck a nerve with me!

I could go on for ever with all my thoughts, but here are a few points that I would like to add, and I'll try to keep my drivel to a minimum.

1. Is it about the process or the product? I usually get hung up on trying to make some big amazing thing, and I never follow through because it just feels like more work and obligations. Who wants to do work after a full day of work? Sometimes, the whole point is to have fun. Like Peter said, do something small, and fun and pointless (like when we were little).

2. Work with someone else. For me, I find that working with someone else really helps me keep it fun and makes me actually do whatever I set out to do. Often, however, you want to do the project on your own, so maybe you can work side by side with a friend on different projects, and meet up for project-time. And then you'll have someone to bounce ideas off of, and you can keep each other motivated.

3. Deadlines. If I really want to do something big, a deadline really helps me. Whether it be entering your project into a competition, a birthday present, or some other sort. If you're really clever, you can figure out how to get paid to work on your own concepts (possibly with getting grants or venture capital), and those come with deadlines!

avw said...

I don't think I have the stamina right now to keep my drivel to a minimum, but I can't help but want to add my two cents (and count myself in as a creative person despite the fact that kids and life have changed my day to day output a bit...). The only way I find time for creative work these days is to finalize my idea as a gift for someone specific. I might not tell them it's coming until it's done, because it may take longer than planned, but at least it puts pressure internally to want to finish it and get satisfaction from giving something out. I also agree with Jonah that working together or side by side is a big help. For my one "real" illustration project, I have a creative partner who helps work out ideas, gives feedback, and generally keeps me motivated to finish it so both of us can benefit from the finished product. We've helped ourselves to prioritize the project by creating a google calendar where we log time to see if we meet our goal of each working 5 hours per week on it. Having a visual record is motivating. Thanks for the reminder that everyone has trouble fitting creative time into their lives... maybe the next time I think about how diapers, dishes, and disciplining have replaced drawing and adult discourse in my life, I won't get so depressed!

Kathy Weller said...

This may sound a bit maudlin/dramatic/ridiculous, but when I've realistically considered the possibility of someday having never accomplished things that I have always wanted to, that's a pretty powerful motivator right there to get things started. Between that, and just getting older - I'm covered!

So, for your list: "You're going to die someday. HURRY UP!!" ;)