Finding time for your creative hobby or passion can be difficult in a world where a full-time job requires more and more of your time, energy and soul. Working hours have increased over the decades and as your career progresses, you are expected to work longer hours. This makes sense if your job is your passion. If you’re lucky enough to have a job in a creative sector or in an industry you love, that can be ideal. However if your job is something you do to put food on the table, working 50 or 60 hours a week leaves little time and energy for any other passions, especially creative activities.
Stressful and time consuming job
I became a dance teacher in a college because I love dance and I love teaching. It was the perfect combination for me as I get to create on a daily basis and nurture creativity, as well as work alongside some very talented performing arts teachers. But there is a pressure with this job to create great work every term on demand. This can be stressful and time consuming. There are always extra hours involved to rehearse, especially in weeks leading up to a show, which will always happen in the evenings. There are also many other tasks involved in the job that teachers of every subject are required to do. Also I live far from the college. It takes me an hour and half to get there, so it’s three hours travelling on a daily basis.
As I was writing Deviants of Giftborn, I found that I struggled to be creative doing such a consuming and energy-draining job. I had to discipline myself in the same way that I would if creating a piece to be performed on stage – give myself a deadline to finish a certain chapter or section. I usually found that, if I was being disciplined, I would become desperate as the deadline neared and somehow find a solution to any problem that I was having (which is actually very similar to how I choreograph). However there were also times when I was just too tired to even think about the book. These were times when I had long rehearsals, show days or a week of late evenings and had to use the weekend to recover. I realised that I cannot write or plot when I’m mentally tired.
Methods to achieve my goal
So in order to keep moving forward I had to find ways to keep motivated and complete goals. Here were my methods:
- Wake up earlier to write. (I’m not a morning person so this was hard. Also with late evenings this became harder as the week went on)
- Complete writing sprints where I write non-stop for 10 – 20 minutes on a timer
- Set deadlines and reminders on my calendar to alert me on the journey home what was expected of me once I got home
- Write down my goals and dedicate a time to look at them daily
- Practice being in the Now (as recommended in The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle)
- Set an agreed time to write with a writing buddy, or attend a weekly course. (This forced me to get something done)
- Read. (Always motivational)
- Set a screensaver that asked “How much have you written today, Zuri?”
- Create a production plan with dates and put it into my calendar
- Allocate a part of my weekend for writing that I could not under any circumstances use for anything else
- Only work four days a week so the weekend was three days long (this was the most effective)
Carve out time for yourself
Of course, these methods helped me to finally finish the book though it took longer than I planned, especially as it had to get through two editors and beta readers with rewrites or amendments at each stage. But still, at least it’s finished! For other casual hobbies, some of these methods may seem extreme, but I don’t think you can underestimate how important it is to carve out time for yourself. Watching TV is a passive way to relax and it can swallow large chunks of time if you’re not careful.
Comment below ff you have any other recommendations for creating time to be creative amongst a busy schedule.
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