Structuring the Creative Life

By February 27, 2015 culture No Comments

Earlier this month, my free-spirited approach to daily life got a bit of a makeover to make space for my creative projects—my manuscript, my blog, the Christ and Pop Culture Magazine, and the Persuasion podcast.

Change was necessary, because I, for one, was tired to hearing myself complain about my creative work being stymied. Progress has been painfully slow since I traded in my freelance life. Since my creative work is not magically getting done, I turned to a resource recommended by a coworker, titled Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, & Sharpen Your Creative Mind. The content is not brand new to me, but it was concisely presented with definitive applications. I decided to implement the ideas throughout February and measure the results.

The verdict? It’s amazing what can happen when you add a bit of structure to the creative life. Two things in particular have made a difference:

1. Nonnegotiable Creative Blocks

Here’s the thing: My creative work was getting pushed aside when time was short or energy was low. This was error Number 1 in the book. oops. After much reflection, I’ve decided that I want to have the same sort of discipline for my creative work that my husband has for his running—he never misses a day or slacks on a tough workout.

To be dedicated to my work like that, I had to carve out time somewhere in my day to sit with my laptop and put words on the page. Easier said than done! But I am making progress. Most days I have 45–60 minutes to work on anything creative.

It’s yielded such good results that I’m motivated to keep at it. This must be why my husband is so dedicated to running—the all-in approach is working for him too.

2. EOD Prep for the Next Day

Nonnegotiable creative blocks only work if the rest of my day is under control. And for me, that begins the night before. Here’s what I’ve concocted: Each night at 8:30, my phone alarm chimes and it’s time for me to get things gathered up for the next day:

  • pack my work bag
  • make my lunch
  • set out workout clothes and work clothes
  • get my laptop charged

After everything is corralled, I head upstairs and hope to be in bed around 9 PM so that my 4:45 AM wake-up call isn’t quite so jolting.

This 30-minute prep has made all the difference in protecting my creative time. I used to do all those things in the morning, and it consumed the extra time. It’s like I gained an hour of my morning just by investing 30 minutes at night.

I’m moving into March with a few weeks of this approach under my belt, and I can’t wait to see what sort of creative fun will come! This proves, once again, that creativity appears most when you are dedicated to regularly seeking it. (Sort of the same in our spiritual life—God seems to show up most when we are dedicated to regularly seeking Him.)

What tips and tricks have you found helpful in managing your day-to-day? Do share!

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