How to make time for creativity

Stop making excuses for why you aren’t creating

Over the years I have created a lot of artwork but it’s not always been consistent. When I was younger it was of course very much a hobby, done as and when I felt like it. During college and university my focus was purely on creating coursework I was studying design but I was mostly creating illustrations and turning it into designs.

In some ways I wish I could go back and tell a younger me that I should practice every day and be more intentional with it to improve. I also would have probably found my style quicker and refined my work quicker. However at the time I wasn’t really ready to do that, either way I was still producing a lot of work.

However on graduating and going into a graphic design job I used my creativity there and didn’t produce much artwork/illustration. It would ebb and flow, I’d do it when I “felt inspired” to and then would give up when it felt hard or because I told myself stories like “what’s the point” or “no-one cares” – this continued for about 5 years.

It’s only in the past year that I have been more consistent than ever with creating art/illustrations regularly despite working full-time, being in a relationship, cooking dinners, taking up roller derby and occasionally doing housework. Why and how? Because, I made it important and basically stopped procrastinating with things like watching TV or mindlessly browsing internet/social media on my phone.

For most people you will probably have to work on your mindset around creativity and resistance.

Once you have done that, you will inevitably notice how this comes up often for other people. In fact you may already notice so many excuses like “I’d love to make art but I don’t have the time”, “I wish I could draw but I’m just not artistic”, “I want to learn lettering but I don’t have the money”, “I’m not creative”, “I want to be stronger I’m too lazy to start exercising”, “There’s no point me trying”.

Honestly the excuses we all make for ourselves can sometimes so believable as well. Am I perfect, definitely not and I have to regularly remind myself that if something is important to me like art is then I must ensure I take the time to do it.

At the end of last year, having worked on my own mindset, my mum was telling me she’d like to paint but doesn’t have time. I called bull****.  I said to her if I could do it when I’m working full-time as well then she could to, I suggested watching TV less and just making the time for it. Now she is regularly posting on her own instagram account and making good progress with her watercolour skills. (hey mum, @tracy.l.mcgill)

Steps you can take

Calling your own bull* on not having the time
Make the time – can you watch less TV? Even if you cancarve out just 15mins, 30mins or even an hour and even if that’s just once per week you’ll still be doing the thing you want to do.

It’s best to have a regular practice if possible. Create triggers e.g. Arrive home from work and do it or straight after dinner or as soon as kids are in bed – make that your time.

What’s stopping you really – what are your fears?
This one will take some self-reflection to uncover if there is more to why you aren’t creating or doing that thing you love or want to do. Are there some negative beliefs about yourself and your abilities for example?

Making space
Can you create a dedicated space to do the thing even if it’s just a corner of a room of a tiny table. I find when I can go into my office I have the space needed for my supplies, I have whatever I’m currently working on art wise set up on the easels and can just get started.

Set up for success
Keep the materials/resources together in one place ready to be used. Set reminders in your calendar. Try to make that time non negotiable with yourself and others in your life.<

Books / resources

  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

  • Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

  • The Artists Way by Julia Cameron
    (not read myself but heard great things)

  • Live The Life You Love by Barbara Sher

Kirsty McGill