What’s the number one thing that stops us making art?

Time.

Or more accurately, lack thereof.

{Obviously this is not based in science or anything, but I can tell you it comes up more than anything else people ask me about.}

This post is for anyone who feels like their days are all filled up and there’s no room for making art.

Or that art is on the list but keeps getting pushed down and then falling off the bottom.

Or that the only times ‘free’ are when you’re just way too tired, or that the pockets of time are too small to do anything worthwhile so what’s the point.

If time and creativity are not coming together in joyful union in your life, this post is for you.

I asked lots of people who I know are artists or otherwise regularly creative – although not necessarily full time earning artists {because some of us just want to do it for joy and self care and those kinds of good things, which is NO LESS IMPORTANT} – what their secrets were for fitting it in.

There was a fabulous response! So instead of me theorising or writing a long list of things that sound good but might not work ‘in real life’, you now have actual practical examples and tips that do work for real and busy people! Yay!

And as you would no doubt expect to hear me say – experiment! Pick something that seems doable and try it! Then swap it, tweak it, chuck it, try something else, and keep going til you have found what works for you. It won’t be a carbon copy of what anyone else is doing, so it may take some time {oh the irony} to work it out, but you’ll get there!

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Playtime outdoors – this probably took about twenty minutes

 

“Early morning worked very well for me. I managed to get about 30-40 minutes in the studio as soon as I got up, before getting ready for the office. A great way to start my day! It’s funny… I finished more pieces with consistent short “before the office” stints in the studio than I did when I was at home on sabbatical or worked 3 days a week, with an erratic art practice. I was floored – and thrilled!”

Stephanie Guimond, creativelivingexperiment.com

 

“I work three days a week at a “real job”. But I’m in the studio the other 3 days if not 4. My studio is at home. I have a husband and 2 boys (10 & 13) who are well aware that “mom is working in the studio”. I treat it as a job, but a fun one. I feel that since my boys are getting older, I do have more time to work on my art. I have a better paying job now but it wasn’t always the case. At some points, I worked 3 jobs and had only one day for myself in my art world.

It seems that as I made more time for my art, then more time would appear for me to do just that. I suppose it was a gradual weaning process with family and jobs. I am very firm with my time in my art world. It’s been challenging because friends and extended family will call and want social dates and I have to explain to them although I am home, I am working. I think being determined and having boundaries has worked well for me. Although, it’s not always pleasant to say “no”, I have found it very liberating. And by the way, I do throw the occasional ‘yes, let’s go have coffee.'”

Kasey Moran, kaseymoran.com

 

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Sunday evening in front of Netflix

 

“I sit at a desk and I doodle on my calendar, 10 minutes on hold during a phone call, or if I just need a mental break, sometimes its 5 minutes. sometimes its 3 minutes. I keep a small book in my car and if I have to wait, I begin to draw with a pencil for just a few minutes. I also have a small book at home and for 5 or 10 minutes sketch anything.

I remind myself that everything we do takes practice and simply sketching helps you to be better. I choose to do art rather than TV which is a time waster most of the time. These things help me. I would also like to add that I socialise with others who are trying to keep their art a practice. We are not famous artists or even that great, but art is helping our spirits grow and this socialising and support of likeminded individuals is also very beneficial.”

Janet Tobler

 

“I’ve made time for drawing every morning this year. I’m not getting up any earlier, I’ve just changed my morning routine. I put the coffee on and then sit down with my sketchbook. Usually when the coffee is done I have a good start. I finish it up while having my first cup. Sometimes my kids wake up and I’m interrupted, maybe I get 15 minutes in. Other days I draw for 30 minutes or so. I’ve gotten used to interruptions and my kids have gotten used to the idea that it’s mama’s drawing time. They enjoy seeing it everyday.”

Crystal Moody, yearofcreativehabits.com

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Making a fun mess on the step

“Although I’m home all day, art time for me is something that I have to sneak in-between homeschooling 3 boys, cooking, cleaning, laundry and all of the other tasks that demand my attention on a daily basis. I have a couple of things that work very well for me. The first is that I get up 30 minutes before everyone else in the house and spend the (blessedly quiet) time sketching at the kitchen table. I’m finding that even 10 or 20 minutes of this every morning is helping to improve my journaling when I do have the time, and by using live objects from around the house, or working on portraiture elements, I get experience drawing things that I find challenging.
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The second thing that I do to save time for art is prepare my pages in advance. I find that I can do this in 10 minute pockets of time throughout the day and prepare multiple pages in different journals for variety. This also has the added benefit of allowing me to do the messy stuff on that one day and have pages ready to go for several spreads in advance.”
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Patricia LaCroix, vintagegypsyart.com

 

“On one day each week, I go for a long walk (around seven hours) either through the forest, or along a long, deserted beach. And on one day each week, I cycle for seven to ten hours either along the coast, or through the forest to a beach. While I am walking or cycling, my mind is active, creating ideas, developing them, and putting the words into order. And because I am out there, thoroughly enjoying myself, the words process themselves, and all I have to do is type them up each morning.
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I get up at first light (currently around 5.00 AM), and after learning some French, I spend two hours writing. So I have written 2000 words of my manuscript before 8.00 AM each morning. I am freshest at that time of day, and my writing doesn’t encroach on other activities. I never watch news and current affairs…that frees up one hour each day, or one working day each week. And I seldom watch TV, so that frees up another two hours each evening, or 14 hours a week, equivalent to two full working days each week. I spend the three hours each evening learning to draw so I can illustrate my work. So that’s two days each week for writing, three days each week for drawing and art. I still have another five days left!”

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Graham Andrews, grahamandrews.com

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***

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Ideas to Borrow

Double up: drawing while on the phone like Janet, or over breakfast like Crystal, while waiting for appointments or in a lunch break, waiting for something to cook, at the table while the kids do homework, or watching them do sports

Say no! Not always easy, but so worth it, as Kasey notes

Rearrange your current routine, as Crystal does, and maybe include the kids if that works for you and them
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Dedicate one day a week, or a certain hour a week, or set of times per week like Graham
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Get up earlier: a case of weighing up fifteen extra minutes of sleep with fifteen minutes of art/coffee time just for you
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Keep things handy: all you need is a small sketchbook and pen in the car, in your bag, in your desk at work, like Janet
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Combine it with another practice. Do it after your morning pages, or after meditation or yoga  for a few minutes {that could be interesting!}
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In my experience it’s largely to do with a mindset shift. When we’ve spent a long time doing things a certain way, it can take quite a lot of mental effort to change with what needs to be changed practically speaking. For that reason, whenever I make changes I make them incrementally, tweaking as I go.
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Remember, nothing changes if nothing changes. But a tiny change can make a surprisingly big difference.
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Baby steps, make it fun, and you’ll find a way.
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What about you? Found something you think you could try here? Do you have any clever tricks up your sleeve for making it work that you can share with us? Tell us in the comments! 
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