I was congratulating a friend on the prolificness (is that a word?) of her recent blog posts. Secretly I was chastising myself for my own silence, both literally and figuratively, as I haven’t podcasted for a wee while either. She replied that she’d had a bit of a bad week at work and creating the posts was a real help. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this from a friend, that their creative endeavours actually help them out of a funk. My own heroine, dear Dorothy Parker, created her best work when miserable. I may have mentioned that before, partly to remind myself that being a bit down doesn’t mean you should stop the important and fun stuff, even if it is hard.
Ernest Hemingway said ‘If you want to be a writer, and you don’t, then you aren’t’. Or words to that effect. In other words, whatever else is going in your life, you should be writing (substitute ‘singing’, ‘crafting’ etc., as appropriate). How many times have I said, ‘Just go for it’?, yet here am I, the one so busy, I can’t find time to type a few words? And the more I don’t, the more I don’t. It’s like not phoning a friend you haven’t phoned for ages, because you haven’t phoned them for ages. The longer you leave it, the harder it gets.
So, here comes the advice bit – not from some kind of guru, but from someone who, like most of us, knows what they should be doing, but isn’t quite getting there.
Creating is fun, right, but it’s also work. You wouldn’t bunk off work just because you were a bit down, or a bit busy. Would you? Really? Well, I won’t tell your boss, this time. To get through the working day, you don’t just sit down and improvise your tasks from 9-5, you have a to-do list, or some recognised method of knowing how the day might pan out.
Apply this to your creative life. Get a to-do list. Mine says ‘ Write blog post’, followed by a list of people to contact about interviews for the podcast, followed by some work on a writing project I’m doing with a friend. As I cross one thing off, I’ll add another. If I don’t do this, I know I’m going to end up losing time again. Yes, creativity is a magical thing, but it also requires a measure of discipline, especially if you’re not in the mood, or tired, or Happy Valley is on the TV. (Heavens, wasn’t it marvellous?)
Maybe you’re more tech-savvy than me and prefer to set reminders on your phone. Also a good idea, in fact anything that works. This is our time, we mustn’t waste it. Set aside at least some every day to create, even if it’s only fifteen minutes. A friend of mine swears by the Morning Papers exercise, and it has a lot of supporters. I am going to try it…some day. For now, I’m at one with my to-do list and the satisfaction of crossing things off. A job, if not well done, at least done.
Happy creating, and I’ll put you guys on the list for …very soon!