A friend recently wrote this on her Facebook wall: Need advice on how to balance 9-5 job with creative projects.
The comments rained down. Kill your TV, get a housekeeper, lose the social life, sleep less.
I thought this: Any self-respecting creative project won’t give you any choice. It’ll hijack your life all on its own.
I know this first-hand. My last creative project (a middle grade novel called “Ultra”) picked me up by the ankles and shook me upside down until 45,000 words came tumbling out.
It was exciting to be swallowed up by the project, but it left me feeling pretty queasy. My little “creative project” informed me, in no uncertain terms, what aspects of my life were priorities, and which aspects needed to be discarded.
There was only one priority. Namely, the novel. Absolutely everything else (family, friends, relationship, wardrobe, personal cleanliness, Game of Thrones) got jettisoned.
I wouldn’t recommend it. I’m still apologising to my wife for that 12-month stretch when I went AWOL.
There is a better way, of course. If you want to lead a creative life and still keep your job and hang out with your friends and family and children from time to time, the best approach is to play the long game. Don’t try to paint or write or dance or strum or quilt a masterpiece in a month or two. Instead, scratch out a few minutes, here and there, whenever you can. Every single day. And then – don’t stop.
If you’re a writer, try to write one page per day. That might not sound like a lot, but if you do it religiously, you’ll have an entire book by year’s end.
(True story: I know a writer who keeps a writing pad in the car, so she can jot down ideas in 15 second bursts, whenever she hits a red light.)
It’s like exercising. Experts recommend that we get 45 minutes of physical activity per day, a minimum of 3 days per week. That’s not a lot – barely 2% of the week. And yet if we do it religiously, it’s enough to dramatically transform our lives.
Photo hat tip: big brother Andy.