In my work as a creativity coach I talk with many, many people who want to be more creative, either as a way to deepen their spiritual practice of self nurturing or who have a specific dream that they long to manifest, like writing a book or spending more time in their painting studio or starting a business.
But too often something gets in the way. And the major culprit, as they see it, is that they are too busy and there's JUST NOT ENOUGH time.
When these folks tell me that they don't have time for creativity, they trot out the unassailable list of essentials that obviously need to come first as the reason that they can't have the creative expression that they so achingly desire.
They point to things like the need to feed themselves and their families, to exercise, to pay their bills, to care for their children, or to go to work. But these honorable and necessary tasks are rarely the culprit in stealing the energy needed to fuel a passionate and creative life.
Who do we think we're kidding?
What gets in the way for the vast majority of people is usually not the time it takes to do the things that really need to be done. The real bad guys that suck the juice right out of our creativity are most likely to fall under the heading of "wasting time" or what author Jennifer Louden calls shadow comforts.
We have all frittered away enormous chunks of our life watching bad television, mindlessly surfing the internet and sport shopping.Which everyone agrees are all things that are not exactly the BEST use of our already too short time on this planet.
Engaging with your creative process ALWAYS wakes you up and even though our souls really do want that much genuine aliveness, it is also scary, so we will use our endless creative genius to find a million and one ways of putting ourselves into a numbed out, brain dead stupor.
I'm SURE that someone needs me somewhere more than my creative process does!
There is a second category of time stealer's which comes under the heading of putting others needs ahead of our own. There are, of course, circumstances when that is necessary. But it is particularly insidious when we allow our valuable and limited time to be swallowed up based on a false sense of duty or responsibility that exists only in our overactive imagination.
For example, I offer creativity retreats at some of the most beautiful places in the world, and I needed help for one that I was facilitating in New Mexico. I asked a friend of mine, another expressive arts therapist, to be my assistant, which meant she would pay the minimal expenses and help me set up and take down the studio. Other than that she would be free to participate fully in the rest of the workshop.
She said that she would really like to take me up on my offer but a cousin who she had no relationship with and didn't even really like all that much was MAYBE going to be in town that week and MAYBE would like to go out to lunch with her.
I just looked at her completely flabbergasted and said "In my career as a creativity coach I have heard some sorry ass excuses about why people won't let themselves have creativity in their lives, but you have just come up with the LAMEST excuse I think I have ever heard!"
Luckily she was not only a good friend but also pretty self aware so we both cracked up laughing and she DID come on that retreat and had a fabulous time.
The only person stopping you is, unfortunately, you.
When you are thinking about how you might spend your precious life energy, try asking yourself this question, "What really, REALLY matters to me at the end of the day or at the end of my life?"
One of my favorite ways of answering that question is the deathbed test, which goes something like this. When you envision yourself in the last days, or hours or minutes of your life, are your final thoughts going to be something along the lines of "Gee, I'm sure glad that I reorganized my sock drawer for the 10th time, or that I played internet solitaire until I got carpal tunnel syndrome, or I will always fondly remember the time when I took that last load of clothes that I never wear anymore to the dry cleaners."
Or are you going to have a glowing memory of the risk you took in setting aside some time for yourself to paint or write or make music ? Will you be savoring the recollection of the exquisite excitement of putting color on paper, of watching your own words turning into an original story,the sweet pleasure of sitting at your piano or with your guitar, strumming away, playing well or badly and singing your fool head off, consumed with the joy of allowing your voice to be heard out in the world ?
Art Every Day Month
One of the things that's really hard about maintaining a creative practice is feeling alone with the whole thing. It really helps to have creative compadres who are doing it with you, holding you accountable and celebrating each creative step.
And I know a FABULOUS way that you can get a great big dose of that creative support.
Leah Piken Kolidas is an amazing artist and a blogger who I completely adore! And she has created this really cool online thing called Art Every Day that she has offered in November for the last seven years. It's kind of like NoNoWriMo for artists.
A bunch of people sign up, commit to doing something creative EVERY SINGLE DAY and then connect with each other to cheer each other on. I'm doing it. And I can't wait.
She has a whole group of people who have already joined her. And it's not just about making visual art. Anything goes. It doesn't really matter WHAT you do as long as you are making the space and time in your life to nurture your creativity.
Leah has even created an optional Survival Guide for Art Every Day Month where you can get daily emails and encouragement to keep you on track.
If you are getting all tingly and excited by this idea you can sign up RIGHT NOW by leaving a comment on Leah’s Art Every Day Month blog page. And be sure to let me know you are doing it so we can be part of this grand creative experiment with each other!
AND...... If you are looking for a way to jumpstart your creativity in 2010 come and join me at my Wild Heart Expressive Arts Intuitive Painting Weeklong Creativity Extravaganza Retreat in Northern CA in January! More details HERE!