Your Art Needs Your Time

Most artists have problems (at least some of the time) getting to the studio and getting creative work done. It just seems too much to pick up the pencil, sit at the computer, go to the quilting frame. And there is a pile of laundry. And you are working today till 6 anyway. The difference between successful artists and “wishing” artists is ritual.

Creating your own reality happens only when you take the time to do it.

If you work in an office, you have a morning routine. Whether you get up and shower or get up and exercise, have breakfast and then shower, you have a routine. And that routine is probably timed down to the exact second, either by time or by what’s on the TV or radio. It gets you out of the house and into the office on time.

Creating a ritual for art is exactly the same thing as a routine for work. A ritual legitimizes your effort, eliminates distractions and assigns a top priority to your artwork. As long as your artwork doesn’t have a priority higher than the laundry or watching TV, it won’t get done. And you set the priority every day of your life.

Your art work is powerful, but not powerful enough to overcome your resistance and drag you into your studio. You have to do the work. And that means shifting priorities. To art. Why is that worth it? Because art makes meaning in your life. It helps you understand yourself, your world, your journey. It’s also uncomfortable sometimes to face the meaning you make in art, so it’s easy to shove it aside.

The ritual doesn’t have to be complex. Decide ahead of time when you will do art. Choose a whole hour. Set a timer to ring 10 minutes beforehand to give yourself time to quit what you are doing. Make a cup of coffee or tea, grab the cup and head to the studio. No excuses. Once you get in the habit, it will first get much harder to meet your ritual. The phone will ring, the kids will demand your attention, a crisis will erupt. Keep to your schedule. In about a week, it will suddenly get easier.

Your morning routine works because your job brings in money and you have given it permission to take over your life. Give your art a chance, too. It brings meaning to your life. As the wonderful strip of paper that I found wrapped around a candle says, “What you do today is important because you are exchanging your life for it.”

Quinn McDonald knows that each one of us has to make our own meaning in life. The act of creation is what makes a life.

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19 thoughts on “Your Art Needs Your Time

  1. Pingback: Links – May 4, 2012 « Beautiful Flower Pictures Blog: Floral Photography by Patty Hankins

  2. I am so grateful to you, Quinn, for giving me the kickstart (through a coaching session) that I needed to commit time to my artwork. I now go to the studio every morning for three wonderful hours. The routine is indeed essential to success …

  3. Quinn,
    This is the best piece of advice concerning making your art part of your routine; it speaks to me loudly as an artist. Art deserves a high priority place for the reasons you stated. I never regret time spent creating art. It’s always a blessing, brings good energy and uplifts.

    Thanks for this.
    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring

  4. I so needed this today Quinn! I have been putting off my artwork for so long now and I just don’t feel any creativity. I always want to block out 4 hours to work on my art but since that is a large chunk of time, I never get it done. Instead, I am going to block out one hour to start and eventually I will be able to keep adding more.

    Thanks for the motivation I needed!

    • Four hours feel like a huge obligation to be creative and wonderful. One hour allows for some smaller, less ambitious work, which is often the gateway to getting lost in your work. Tell me how it went!

  5. It’s been a long time, but going to work for a corporation was easier, not just easier to justify, but it required only that I show up and do what was expected by someone else. Creative work requires that I first face myself, see what is there, make choices about what in me I want to show through the art and how I want to do that. But, yes, it is important.

  6. I think Quinn is clairvoyant. anytime she posts, it mirrors exactly a situation I am in (smile!!) yes, I, too, need to OOCUPY my studio. what with work, garden and now foot surgery, the poor studio is sadly neglected

    • How crazy is it that those of us so dedicated to creativity allow ourselves to get so distracted? Seriously, we put ourselves so far at the bottom of our own to-do lists! Hope your foot is OK.

  7. I’m not an artist but I definitely have rituals. One involves meetings with people whose job involves marketing:
    1. Stand up
    2. Stretch
    3. Walk to white board
    4. Draw three concentric circles, the largest one about 12″ diameter
    5. Impact innermost surface with forehead five times

  8. “because your job brings in money and you have given it permission to take over your life”…

    My how that resonates. My work has taken over my life, my health, my night times, my weekends. I justify it in the basis that we need the money to eat ( which we do) but most of what I earn goes straight to the banks, the revenue ( your IRS) and other creditors.
    And this is where it leaves me:
    http://thecuriouscatcompany.blogspot.com/2012/04/lost-in-haunted-wood.html

    I squeeze my art into the leftover spaces of my life, even though, after my children, it is the thing that gives my life most meaning.

    And today, I woke feeling desolate. Not that I hate my work. It all just seems “too much”. And not enough of me.

    • Your illustration of the poem is haunting, Krytyna. My heart goes out to you. Too many of us work too much, are depleted and leave art for some last corner of the day. And work, children, taking care of people–it truly does seem “too much.”

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