Creative Time Wasting

Overbooked. Crazy busy. No time to breathe. We are all of these things, and it’s depleting. We don’t schedule time to recuperate from our lives. Several years ago, I joined a group of people who create every day. We posted our efforts,  we encouraged each other, we supported our efforts. We were embarrassed at our beginning efforts, but we kept working on it.

A page from my book, Raw Art Journaling. (You can buy it on my website, QuinnCreative and get free shipping)

I decided to blog every day. Some days ideas ran like water through an arroyo after a thunderstorm. Other days, it was as if the toothpaste tube of ideas could not be squeezed productively one more time.  Over time, the group dwindled. It was too time consuming to be creative every day. It started with one person promising to return as soon as her health issues resolved. Another said she’d skip just this one day.  Another said her life was “frantic” and flipped the priorities—from creating every day to being frantic every day.

The tiny group that remained understood—who wants to demand time for creating when driving a car full of pre-teens must be done? Any other decision would be . . .selfish, right? After all, creativity is not really a productive pursuit when we have so many things on the to do list.

Writing every day is a chore. But the more I did it, the better I got at generating ideas and putting them in writing. Making time for creating became a meditation of sorts. I developed a mindful creating habit.

Mindful creating is a soulful practice. It feels like prayer and looks like art. And before you whisper, “but I’m not an artist, “ I would like you to widen the aperture on the word “Art.” Art can be many things. There is mindful parenting, dancing, caretaking and performing music. We can make art out of life, instead of making adrenaline to push us through life.

Few of us are born experts. The change is slow and incremental, and often not noticeable to those of us engaged in it. Much like going to the gym, we experience the effort first, long before we notice the results. And the effort is often why we quit, which stops the benefits of the results before we can enjoy them.

A daily creative practice is worthwhile. It conditions the mind, spirit and body in good ways. It allows us to get better slowly. It allows us to think over small issues, solve little problems, and try out little ideas. When we get good at that, it grows into nurturing those small ideas and projects while they grow into big ones. When we run into big problems, we have the expertise on how to handle them. Not bad for a practice most people don’t want to waste time on.

Quinn McDonald is the owner of QuinnCreative and she is often overwhelmed. Lucky for her, she developed a habit of managing overwhelm with writing and art. It’s not foolproof, but it feels better than frantic.

20 thoughts on “Creative Time Wasting

  1. I opened the comments section to tell you that the prayer/art line was going straight into my art journal and found that it had struck a chord with many of us. 🙂
    After many months (make it a couple of years really) of fretting I was not “making enough” I realized that what I was really interested in were artists as I´m a “people” person. I now enjoy the connecting with them (I love artists) and go to the art journal from time to time. Your quote will be one of them. 😀 Thank you. 🙂

  2. Great post. It has given me a lot to think about. I want to try to be creative everyday- either with quilting or writing on my blog. Thanks! I love your site.

  3. Yet again, Quinn, I read your words of wisdom and realise that what you are talking about is the exact place I am at in my life right now. I am realising (again!) that I simply MUST make time for the projects I enjoy, rather than thinking that the so called ‘neccessities’ are more important. Hmm…I’m sure I could spend my whole day creatively wasting time! What a wonderful thought! 🙂

  4. Yes, yes, yes! I LOVE this post. Gets to the heart of where so many of us get stuck: the line between “pushing” oneself to be creative and just being present. When the focus is on regular practice, rather than outcome, creativity becomes inseparable from presence, rather than ending up as just one more “should” on the to-do list. Thank you so much for the clarity here.

  5. “Mindful creating is a soulful practice. It feels like prayer and looks like art.” That is a lovely expression and testament to the worthiness and value of creating. Perfectly said.

  6. Great post, Quinn. My personal theme at the moment is “mindfulness”–mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful eating. I had not considered mindful creating and art-making. I have moved away from my art journal in the last two weeks, because it has become so “product-oriented” that it was becoming an item on my To Do list…NOT what I was looking for! But the idea of creating as a soulful practice and a prayer…now, THAT, I can get my head around!

  7. While determining if i should buy your book I came across a post where you mentioned “big eyed long necked woman”, that hit a nerve please may I add pointy hats and crowns? In my working life I encountered many coaches and people who would help me find me. In spite of them I found me and now you. Your book and class appear to be just the dose of “push” to a non artist who loves dabbling.

    • And don’t forget birds in cages. I’d love to use more birds in my art, but they have been so overdone! Welcome to the class–you do not have to be an illustrator. An open heart and an open mind is enough.

  8. Thank you, Quinn! I’ve just started back with my day job and am already feeling the “I’m too busy, I’ll write/draw/paint/weave tomorrow” urge. I know what you wrote in the post is true, but it’s easy to let the overwhelm to rob my memory of it. Thank you for giving me back the memory AND the confirmation of its truth!

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