“I don’t have the time!”
“It must be artist’s/writer’s block.”
“I don’t know why…I’m just not doing it.”
How many of these things have you thought or said?
I was telling myself all of these, and more.
As a new mom, I’m having to put a lot of energy to focus on falling back into my habits as an artist. While I do treasure what little time I have, I never APPRECIATED my free time much until my son came into the world. Between doctor appointments, trying to get some fresh air to maintain some sanity, keeping the house clean, cooking, and more, its hard to find time to devote to my first calling : my art.
Whether a new element has entered your life that is taking up your time, or you have simply just lost motivation and are stuck in an art rut/block, I’m hoping that I can help even one person get back on track. These are the steps I am taking, and have found to be helpful!
DECLUTTER and REORGANIZE!
I find that every time I take any amount of time where I fall out of the creative habit, that my interest in one medium or another may increase or go away altogether. Not interested in watercolor, but you have a lot of paper and paints? Get rid of them. Donate them to a local organization, or put them up on a local Freecycle (check Yahoo! Groups to find one near you).
The likelihood that you left your art space in pristine, organized condition is, well…not high! If you’re anything like me, you can’t focus when your creative place is cluttered. I found myself with a couple hours the other week, and decided to attack the little corner of the kitchen/dining room that I have claimed as my home studio. Not only did the little element of my son enter my life recently, I also moved into a new apartment at the beginning of this rut. The only thing I had set up in this corner as of a week ago was my easel. My craft box, jewelry, papers, mixed media, everything else was scattered on shelves and in closets.
What it came down to, was I didn’t want to have to look for what I needed, and by the time I found it, I no longer had the motivation to do anything with it. By putting everything in one place, I would no longer have the excuse of “Well, I don’t know where ___ is!”
Within minutes of organizing my corner, I found the inspiration to at least start a background for an upcoming commission.
BUY A PLANNER : AND USE IT!
This sounds SO simple.
…because it is! (Keeping up on it is the challenge!)
I purchased a small black spiral planner from Walmart for $6. Make sure that each day has enough space for you to reasonably write in your schedule and plans, otherwise, what’s the point? The planner I have has lots of room for daily lists, with a standard “calendar” layout at the beginning of every month. Disregarding the dates/lines on this calendar, I just write down my major projects for the month. This way, if I can’t think of anything to add to my day, I can refer to these.
Many of us have smartphones now, myself included. I love my iPhone and its simple scheduling abilities, however, I find that using the “Reminders” and notepad features don’t really keep me on track. There’s something about writing out a to do list and physically crossing items off that is much more satisfying to me. This is where that smartphone comes in handy, though. More than likely, you have doctor appointments, lunch meetings, etc already scheduled into your phone. WRITE THEM DOWN, TOO.
Why? Now you know how much time you have throughout the day, and what you can realistically put on your to-do lists.
Start small and add things you would like to do.
At the beginning of the week, I lay out things I know that I HAVE to do on days that I have available to tackle larger things. I have drawings that I’ve promised by certain dates, so I need to ensure that I work on these to present in a timely fashion. Always leave some space open. You may wake up that day and decide to add another project or two.
These to-do items aren’t only limited to physically working on these projects. Occasionally, block off some time to research inspiration, write blog posts (this post was added to my list just a couple of hours ago!), or just read! Does it feel better for you to “schedule” in some time for a tea break? Write it down! When you are finished, cross it off, and pick up another item.
DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP
You won’t always finish all of your goals. I’ve gotten to the point where I can usually finish my lists (because I’ve been better able to predict what time I will have), but it still happens. When I don’t have time to finish an item due to lack of time or resources, I circle the item, and designate another day that might better suit the task.
For example : I intended to print off some references yesterday. I wasn’t able to get to a printer this day as I previously thought I would, so I moved it to tomorrow, because I know I’ll be around one.
Another example : I had intended to finish a drawing for a client on Tuesday evening and email the finished piece on Wednesday morning. I was waiting on approval of another element of this drawing, and still am. I don’t have the resources to finish this task, but it did remind me to send another quick note to the client to ensure that all was well.
It took me a couple weeks to get to where my entire week wasn’t circled and moved. But looking back at those weeks and seeing what WAS accomplished made me feel a whole lot better. Who knew that adding another to-do to my day (actually writing it all out!) would push me to get those things done!
I sincerely hope that these suggestions will help someone get back into the swing of their creativity.