Making Time for Creating

Tonight, my dear friend Wayne Thomas Batson arrives at our home for a three day writing weekend that we call a Writer’s Bootcamp. We’ve been conducting these annually for the past nine years. Usually, we write, talk, write, eat, drink, write, use the bathroom (separately), talk, write, and then pass out, only to awake the next morning and do it all over again, with the goal of pounding out as many words as is inhumanly possible.

One thing that I’ve learned about the creation process is that it requires me to be intentional. When I was younger, making things just seemed to “happen.” I had loads of free time, and proximity to all sorts of amazing tools. And loads of free time.

(Did I mention free time?)

Today, as creative a soul as I am, producing tangible art—whether books, records or designs—only happens when I make time for them.

Here are three tips that’ve helped me:

Book It

Appointments are typically for people, not for “making things.” While people got premium space on my calendar apps—complete with descriptions, reminders and a courtesy text message if I’m running late—projects normally didn’t. Somehow I treated it as a second class activity.

If we really want to be intentional about creating, we need to treat time frames for our creative disciplines like appointments with people. Schedule the time on your calendar, write a description about what you want to accomplish in that time frame, and set up alerts if you’re late (treating them like text messages that say “You’re late! Get in here for your meeting!”).

Guard It

Merely setting planned time aside for your creative activities, whether professional or pastime, isn’t enough. I would never entertain ducking out of an intense marriage counseling session to help someone with the office printer. But I’m OK with stopping a design session to help someone tape up a box?

No.

All those those people and their tasks are important, just not right now.

Once you’ve scheduled time, keep yourself accountable to it by telling any interruptions to your creative appointment, “I’m sorry, but I’m in a meeting.” Most everything can wait.

Guarding these times includes turning OFF your mobile phone and restricting browser usage (if you need it open at all) to pertinent tasks only. TV, music (if it’s a distraction) and company can also be things that breach your guard.

End On a Cliffhanger

One of the biggest mistakes I made early on in my novel writing career was ending my day’s work when I’d finished a section that had a natural finale.

Big mistake.

Don’t end when it seems right, end when it seems wrong. Call it a day right in the middle of your favorite scene. Favorite color choice. Favorite chorus. Call the session when you’re truly inspired. This not only means that you’ll resume your progress sooner, but ensures that you’ll start back up with zeal. You’ll be eager instead of reticent.

What are some things you do to schedule, guard and inspire your creative disciplines?

Happy creating,

ch:

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  • Jason J Clement

    Man… I need to be more so much more disciplined in “scheduling” my time during the day. I have so many bad habits (like working long into the night and next day) that I need to break. Sorry Mike Kim! Wait… If I schedule a creative session for 1am – 3am is that ok?

    • Christopher Hopper

      Just as long as you don’t have to fix your furnace. (That would definitely constitute as a distraction).

    • http://www.mikekim.tv/ Mike Kim

      I’m pretty sure I’m the most creative at midnight – 3am. Something’s wrong with me. Then again, we don’t have kids yet so I’m going to take full advantage…

  • http://www.dadscancooktoo.com/ Nathan Reimer

    I believe we all have creative souls. Some (like me) produce non-tangible art and some suppress it due to insecurities or ignorance. Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s inspirational and hopefully will ignite the creative spark in many.

    • Christopher Hopper

      Well said, swordbrother. If our Maker is [THE] Creator, and we are made in his image, how much more should every human soul bear witness to the act of creating and do likewise, no matter the medium? (Your food is art, for what it’s worth—among many other things you do, including creativity with values and categories). ;)

  • http://www.mikekim.tv/ Mike Kim

    This is such a great post. Love the idea of ending on a cliffhang…

    • Christopher Hopper

      Thanks, bro. As always, love your feedback.

  • http://www.mikekim.tv/ Mike Kim

    Ok no really, I’ve stayed inspired of late reading classic ad books: Caples, Ogilvy, et al.

    It sort of reminds me of the previous post when we were talking the Grammys. People back in the day had very simple tools and had to use talent in a raw way to make things work.

    That said, today’s world means you can’t stay the same…it changes in seconds. But I find the old school creative work an anchor and inspiration. Almost like hymns for the creative soul. <– your next book title.

    • Christopher Hopper

      “Hymns for the Creative Soul” by Mike Kim and Christopher Hopper; ghost written by someone else we pay to make us look amazing.

  • http://scrollsofvenarilnightblade.wordpress.com Venaril NightBlade

    *digs up this old post*
    Wow…that third one struck me as ingenious! I should totally do that for my writing.
    I love designing stuff like crazy creatures and mysterious buildings for my worlds, and TONS of armor, weapons and other hardware for the militaries that invariably fill my worlds x)
    This may sound lame, but a great source of inspiration for me is watching movies, reading books or playing vid games of designers who are true geniuses, such as LOTR, Star Wars, and Halo. Their fictional universes are so rich, I get tons of inspiration from them and work my imagination to change and evolve the ideas I get from them into my own creations