Many times, my creative habits go up and down depending well…on all sorts of things. This year, in 2020, one goal is to paint more consistently.
There are so many benefits to painting. When I don’t do it, I miss it. My mind wanders throughout the day to a canvas half-finished on the painting table. So how can I become more habitual about painting?
Well, there are other things in my life that have become habits. I took some ideas from what I’m doing in those areas, like exercise and writing and relationships that are going well.
I didn’t used to be so habitual in writing or exercise or anything. Life came at me and I dealt with it, tackling projects and crisis and all the things. I even prided myself on my ability to handle so many things. Yet, the most important things went undone.
You can probably relate. Work is constantly consuming our thoughts and time. Family is too. I don’t have children, but I have a large extended family and there are lots of things to attend to. Plus, there is everything else: community, friends, church, volunteering, all the things. It feels like there is not a lot of time for creating.
Or so I used to think.
It started a few years ago when I really needed some sort of outlet that was a complete opposite of my life of work, family, volunteering and so on.
Since then, life hasn’t gotten less busy. It’s become fuller. Re-reading Laura Vanderkam’s book on priorities and time management (it’s number one in the things to do, see below) refreshed the way I’m looking at life right now.
One of the points Laura makes is that it’s not that those women who pursue creative hobbies or great relationships with their family or career goals, etc. etc. have more time or less responsibilities.
Instead, these women have become ruthless in what (and who) gets in their life and what stays out of life. They come from all sorts of backgrounds with different stories. But they’ve all managed to do what was most important to them.
I’ve compiled twenty ways we can create more in 2020. Others have figured out how to carve out time to grow deep in their creative hobbies…and we can too.
It’s a great time to start to create more. Whether it’s planting a garden, painting or designing custom bracelets, here are twenty ways to create more in 2020. Let’s go. I’ll be sure to connect with you towards the end of the year to share how I did.
- Read Juliet’s School of Possibilities by Laura Vanderkam. This short book is in the realm of a parable, kind of like Who Moved My Cheese from a few decades ago. Even if you don’t relate to the stressed-out protagonist (she is a tad over-the-top!), the character of Juliet is absolutely inspirational. Laura’s others books are nonfiction, but they are amazing. I’m a big fan of I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time as well as Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done.
- Look at your calendar and note the gaps. There is space somewhere in your week. It may not be a lot. It may be a two thirty-minute chunks of time a week.
The reason I suggest reading one of Laura Vanderkam’s books is she is so persuasive that we have more time and choice with what we do with our time than we think. When I did her time budget, I was surprised at how long I spent doing things that didn’t need so much time. It’s not about cramming every minute with something to do. It’s about choosing what will be a priority and making sure those priorities get placed in how I spend my time.
- Plan for Creativity Times
Our lives are full and complex. It will take a bit of creative planning to get our creative projects off the ground, for some of us, there will be more juggling than others. The good news is that once the schedule gets down, it’s easier to become a habit. And once our creative time is a habit, it’s harder to break.
For example, I started writing from bed in the mornings. After I have a short quiet time, I turn on classical music, refill my coffee and set the timer for twenty-five minutes. Once the music starts, my brain and body knows it’s write time! Yes, I get up earlier to do this. But it’s been the biggest boost of energy to my day to start off with this short habit several days a week. I’m figuring how to incorporate this concept with my painting.
- Pick a Theme and a Specific Goal for the Year
What do you want to create? Some of us will have to sit with this for a little while, especially if it’s been a while or we love a lot of things. Choose something you can really dive into. Perhaps it’s resuming playing the piano. Pick three to five songs you want to get to learn well.
- Plan to Finish
I love to start. There’s a natural high that comes with starting. It takes muscle to finish. Finishing projects will grow us deeper into our craft and in other areas of life including professional and person. This year, I’m working on completing the paintings I start and not start new ones until the originals are completed.
- Schedule A Time
Okay, I know that while you were reading number two and then you got to number six, you’ve had two texts, a call and, depending where you are, a request from snacks from the kids or a knock on the door or a colleague who needs something. (Insert hysterical emoticon here).
So now it’s time to set a time for when you are going to create. Will it be on Friday nights when you can take a break for two hours after work and before bed? Maybe it’s on the weekend or a few times early in the morning (or late at night). It doesn’t matter when you do it, put it on the calendar.
- Get a Box or a Table
So many of us have the best of intentions to create but it takes so long to get to the actual creating, we give up before we start (me so many times). I overcame this by setting aside an Ikea table as my designated art desk. It’s pretty much always a beautiful, creative mess and that’s perfectly okay. It’s my space to come and immediately start working. Before I finish, I make sure the space is ready for the next creating session: brushes clean, the main workspace ready for use, paint put back away.
You might require a basket or an area in a shed for tools or equipment. Whatever you need, prepare to create so when your scheduled time comes, you can start creating.
- Commit to trying out your schedule for three months. If you’re committing to a once a week creative time, it’s going to take several weeks to make it a happen.
- If you get off schedule, give yourself grace and hop back on!
- Pick 3-4 people who are doing what you are going to do and follow them on your favorite social media channel. Choose one who is instructional, i.e. gives mini tutorials on skills you want to grow in. YouTube is a fantastic place for this. Watch these instead of the cat/movie/celebrity/all-the-random-things videos.
- A few times a day, take a moment to take several deep breaths, close your eyes and see yourself doing your creative hobby. Are you creating perfect pastry designs, tending to the plants in your garden or refurbishing old furniture? Imagine yourself there, doing it. What we think about increases our desire and propensity to do it in real life!
- Make one trip for needed supplies. This includes Amazon! Make a list and shop it once. Then stop until you’ve created a few projects. (See number 13 too).
Resist the urge to keep shopping for the “one” craft tool or product. This one HURTS! I know, I know! Retail therapy is a form of procrastination. Use what you have after the initial buying trip. Innovate as you need to. Studies show limits strengthen creativity, not diminish it.
- Set some goals around your creative work. What would you like to complete this year? A summer vegetable garden and an herbal garden? Twenty pairs of earrings? Two seasonal collections of paintings? Four portraits? Monthly dinner parties?
- Sign up to do some sort of in-person event. Workshop, conference, class- it doesn’t matter. We learn more in live workshops. The pressure is on, but it’s a good pressure! This is important for professional women who don’t have a lot of discretionary time. We need things to accelerate our growth!
- Find a friend who shares your creative hobby. Even if you don’t see each other often, commit to checking in via social media or better yet, a text. It doesn’t have to be long. Share completed projects, ask if you run into a problem, etc. You’ll learn a lot from each other and keep each other motivated to keep going.
- If there is an online “summit” or “conference” sign up. Many of them are free or have nominal fees (if you want to re-watch episodes, the cost is typically more). This is a great way to stay inspired in your field and “meet” other people.
- Have some way to keep track of the days you create. It can be something as simple as a check mark on a calendar or a page in the back of your planner where you mark the dates you created.
- Enjoy the results of a completed project. Note the sense of achievement and joy at completing the project. If possible, capture the completed project and put it somewhere you can see it. This might be a picture, especially when it comes to culinary or gardening pursuits.
- If you live with family: spouse, children, elderly parents, etc. share with them your priority of pursuing your creative hobby in 2020. Let them know your schedule. If there is a family planner, be sure to add it in there. You may want to create alone, or you can share, that while you will be creating, they are welcome to work on their own creative projects too…but you won’t be able to help them. Everyone will have to work independent. Or, if you need to work by yourself, engage the assistance of help for children, etc.
- Know that your prioritization of this worthy goal and discipline – the development of your creative hobby – will slowly but surely change you from the inside out. It doesn’t happen overnight. Pursuing creativity with a quiet and deliberate determination will produce many good things in your life including bringing clarity, calmness and an increased ability to creatively solve problems and see possibilities.
Something happens when we invest in creating, when we use our hands and do something for fun that adds beauty to our lives and to the world in general. I have a friend who says continuing with her craft of playing the piano has “saved her life.” I get that. Creating calms me down in a life that, while good, is also full of stress and constant intense challenges.
This year I’m finishing a book on why it’s essential for women to pursue creative outlets and how adding in creativity expands many different outlets of our lives. To learn more and receive previews of chapters, sign up for to get on the email list below!