Monday, March 26, 2018

'Self-Care' for Creative Types: Finding Time To Create

Sunset in Malta

Someone posted a link to this article, "This is what 'Self-Care' REALLY Means, Because It's Not All Salt Baths and Chocolate Cake," in a Facebook group that I'm in. I like the article's focus on facing your problems, from the personal to financial. I would add that 'self-care" for creative types also includes making time to think and create.

Writing coach clients talk to me a lot about not being able to find time to create.

Wait. That's not exactly true. What I should write is that my female clients talk to me a lot about finding time to create. They are especially busy with full-time jobs (which might be parenting), parenting, organizing things at home, taking care of their own needs and trying to find time to spend with the partner, too. Where does time to create come in, especially when the output rarely generates income?

While I wish for everyone to be able to take time away for a writing residency or create a writing residency at home, that's not always financially or logistically feasible. Here are a few tips that I recommend to get you started - and into the habit of - creating time for creativity:

Start by giving yourself permission to think about something related to writing during the day. You might read a poem first thing when you wake up (or while you are making or drinking your coffee) and then think about it during the day. You might carry around a copy of it and think about the opening line while you commute, fold laundry or wash dishes.

You can use the same approach with something that you are creating. Read the current draft of something before you go to sleep or when you wake up in the morning. Then give yourself a question to think about. Maybe you need to figure out why a character made a decision or you aren't sure about particular verb. Give yourself the day to come back to this question and try to find an answer by the evening.

I find that the best way to use those smaller bits of time, maybe twenty minutes here or there, is to first set up a Writing To-Do list. This document (which admittedly will take some time to create and maintain periodically) will help to give you small goals that you can try to complete in those short periods of available time. This approach helps you to avoid spending the free time trying to figure out what you should be doing and instead simply get to the doing.

This next suggestion is a little woo-woo, but I think it works. When you do have time, use the energy that is coming naturally to you. I know that sometimes I feel very much like creating and other times I feel really good about editing.

What other tips would you recommend? Please share in the comments section. 

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