Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.
Motivational sages pretend that making your dream come true only requires elbow grease and a decision to never give up. This is mostly misleading. It’s true, in the sense that it works if all you dream of… is making your dream come true. But most of us want ketchup and gravy, not plain old fries. We want a purpose, a home of our own, a partner to share it with, and a few holidays for flavor.
We don’t have just one dream. We have many. It is the rare few who enjoy (endure?) a single-minded focus on the pursuit of one overriding purpose in life. That leaves the rest of us trying to slot in a bit of time here and there, pursuing passions that don’t bring in paychecks or take us out for romantic dinners.
In other words, we really want to be writers and painters and wood workers and entrepreneurs and graphic designers and music producers and (fill in your creative preference here ______), but…
We have to fit it in between yoga class and bedtime.
Guess what that means? Not a lot of time to pursue what makes our hearts sing. Amateur creative people are adept at squeezing creativity into small spaces.
Maybe this is just my experience, but I’ll share it with you in case you relate:
I love to write. I feel most in flow when I’m playing with words and ideas. I dream of one day writing a book. But I only write a couple nights a week. Because I also love my husband, my kids and my dogs. I love entertaining friends, coaching clients and renovating our home. And – I have a day job. I couldn’t imagine giving up one of those things to pursue writing exclusively. Except for my Newfie when he binge eats his own feces. I might consider it then.
Author Ryan Holiday’s advice for becoming a writer is not about prolific work ethic or the relentless honing of your skills. He simply states:
“Go do something interesting.”
It’s what we do in our everyday lives that gives us something to say.
I don’t write for a living. But my living, professional and otherwise, has given me something to write about. I write when I can. When you love something, you’ll find the time to do it. You’ll write your book on the toilet and create websites on a commuter train to your real job.
For most creative people, this won’t feel satisfying AT ALL! Ten minutes here and there will feel like putting out a prairie fire by peeing on it. But if, like me, you’re not willing to sacrifice all your dreams for the sake of one, you’ll make do with that.
You can be more fulfilled by piecemeal creativity.
Embrace the toilet time and morning commute as life’s way of giving you stolen time. Use every minute of stolen time you get.
Be awake and mindful in your everyday life. Your muse speaks when you’re going about your business, not just when you’re creating.
Let life inspire your work. Look at the ordinary in extraordinary ways. Glean material from overheard conversations and ideas from glitches in your work day.
Do something interesting. If you can’t thinking of anything interesting to do, just try saying yes more.
And remember this always:
Creativity is not sitting down and working at your craft. Creativity is all around you, in everything you do. If you open yourself up to be inspired by every moment, no matter how mundane it may seem, you transform from an amateur creative to someone who is in that creative space 24-hrs-a-day.
How much more fulfilling is that?