“I wish I could find the time to be more creative, but life just won’t allow it.” Life won’t allow it. Does this sound familiar?
It’s become a well worn story, and I get it. I used to live by those words. Our lives can get hectic, and fast. For years, I would have heaping piles of obligations and people constantly trying to pull me in different directions. I was a people pleaser, so I often gave in and put myself last. But, thankfully, I soon realized that if I didn’t step up and grab the steering wheel, my life would continue that way. Indefinitely. This sort of life can be downright depressing for a vivid and creative mind. For one that sees the world differently.
What saddens me to the core is when the creative spirit fades away, hiding back in the hollows of memory. A could’ve been. Hoping, one day, for the perfect time to peek its head out again and play. I think this is what all creativity is about: the soul or the inner child at play. I think we allow that wild and free part of us to become caged and constrained, waiting for a day that might not come. Years go by and we say “I don’t have time” to our inner impulses. We’re basically telling that inner child what it’s always heard: “No, not right now. I’m busy. I’m sorry, I can’t play with you.” It’s how we’re conditioned—work first, play later.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can be both responsible and playful. The idea that you cannot immerse yourself in art if you work a day job, or that you have to be starving and hungry to be an artist, is complete nonsense. It’s just a story, and it can absolutely be changed, with the right perspective.
Here’s a hint: don’t make it all about money.
When I first heard that call and chose to honor my creativity and the wildness inside, it opened up a huge can of worms. It made me see my entire life differently. My marriage ended, money came and went, I had to relocate and live somewhere else. I had to start over, in so many ways. There were so many ups and downs, and there still are, every day. That’s how it is, when you live your life authentically, aware of every choice, living in every moment. Living this way makes everything come alive, within and without. It’s both scary and awe-inspiring, but I wouldn’t change it. Not for who I get to be, today.
If you think you’re ready to find your wild, here are a few basic tips to get you started:
- Define Priorities / Set a Schedule
You’ve got to know what you want. Even if you have only an hour to yourself at the end of the night, you’ll still need to prioritize what is most important to you. You’ve got to make the tough choices, and you might have to let something go. You can’t just cast a spell to create more hours in a human Earth day. (Well, you could try it. Definitely let me know how it goes, I’d be interested.) It might be easier to remove some things from your schedule. Sit down and list your priorities: work, relationships, sleep, exercise, “me time”. Get used to scheduling in time for YOU. Even twenty minutes a day can change your life. Make yourself a schedule, on paper, and set aside your time. Ask yourself, “What do I want?” Write down the answer. (This answer may change over time, as you change.) Be gentle with yourself as you do this inventory, because you may see things in your life that aren’t as they should be. Inner work is challenging and life changing, but worth it if you stick with it.
- Practice Your NO
Saying YES to yourself often means saying NO to others. This is a practice and it can become a new routine, but it’s hard won for chronic people pleasers. It took me years to muster up the resolve to simply say no. Not right now. I have plans. It’s my night to write. Maybe another time. Thank you anyway. I need this time for me. And here is some truth: if people in your life can’t or won’t support you, then reconsider how much power they ought to have in your life. People who love you will work to support you in your dreams. They will seek to understand you, not diminish you. Surround yourself with people who nourish your dreams, and you’ll keep leaning forward, and further into them.
- Nurture Inner Space and Explore Yourself
Meditate and keep a journal. You don’t have to sit on the floor or practice shavasana, if that’s not your thing. But find your thing—something that can turn the demands of the outside world off. Sometimes it’s movement: biking, walking, swimming, dancing, boxing. It could be anything. Find that one thing that works for you, and allow a few minutes of that. Just that. Don’t demand answers, just keep asking questions. Write them down. Begin to write down any immediate thoughts, fears, concerns. You’ll address them all in some way, eventually. Just learn to ask. Often, creativity gets stifled simply because we won’t allow ourselves to witness it. So, what’s burning inside? Do you want to write a book? Sing on stage? Dance the tango? Is it public speaking? Or are you a visual artist? There are so many wonderful things to want to try in this life. So seek your solitude, slow your mind down, and do your inner work.
- Minimize Time Wasters
This is another tough one, and it requires letting go of distractions. For me it was web surfing and those little bloopy-bubble games on my phone. You know, the ones where you move the shapes into a row and they disappear with a lovely and satisfying swish sound? My OCD loved it. I couldn’t control the big bad world out there, but I could make those shapes behave. I soon saw that it was eating up hours of my time, and I wanted more time for creativity in my life. So I deleted all the apps, and I try to limit my internet time. (I try.)
- Enjoy Your Creative Process and Learn to Find Flow
Once you’ve identified what grounds and centers you, what you want to dig your teeth into, and you’ve carved out some special time for yourself, you’re there. You’ve started an adventure. Buckle up and enjoy the ride. Notice what shows up at unexpected moments, and how those things might be meaningful in your quest to discover more of yourself. See what you come up with, like a child left alone in a playroom. You may soon become addicted to the feeling of creating. Honor that, keep the promise to yourself, that you’ll show up, in your space, at the right time, to keep going. And honor yourself for taking a step toward a more fulfilling life.
Stacie Hammond is a librarian by day and a magical, time-bending creative by night. She is the author Ana. J Awakens and accepts her fate as a free spirit creativity junkie, with pleasure. While she enjoys all things artistic, she is currently exploring her childhood dream of being a singer/songwriter, even as she finishes her current book, Wild Horses and Mistakes a real life story about chasing dreams, allowing simple pleasures, and honoring creative impulse. Her greatest creation, to date, is her beautiful son, who gets the majority of her attention.