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I'm motivated to do some things, but not others. I have a long mental list of things I want to get done, resolutions to get started on, overdue and neglected projects to start back up. Instead, I find myself reading. Big surprise! I haven't even made a real to-do list for much of it because I ...can't figure out where to start. If I send myself email reminders about urgent or semi-urgent things, I get them done, but though it seems smart to send myself emails that say: Call the immigration board about residence card or Schedule appointment with new dentist or Bring laptop to work, it feels silly to send myself emails that say: Work on collage book. Organize saved artwork files. Get on the freaking treadmill already.

Why is it so much easier to get some things done than others? Are they really a bigger priority? Isn't being creative, going for a walk, or figuring out a way to let go of the years worth of Martha Stewart Living magazines that I have rarely...oh, let's face it, NEVER, looked at again after the first read-through, worth prioritizing? What makes some things more important than others? Some things I do because I know they're fast to do. And even though I say I never procrastinate, really there are plenty of things that I never seem to make time for, never get around to, keep in the back of my mind.

It's easy to float through life, following the easy path. It's much harder to stop and force yourself to take stock and even harder to force yourself to get out of ...not a rut, exactly, but a routine that is familiar, no matter how busy and full-up it may be. It's easy to let the days just blend one into the next until suddenly you're staring down Christmas once again. Blink and you lose.

Most evenings, when I've left work, there are things that have to be done. The kids have to be fed, Karin has to get to practice, reminders about homework have to be made and followed up on. The fish tank needs cleaning, the laundry needs washing and good lord, don't tell me the dishwasher is full again! Would having cleaning help free me up to actually sit at my art desk and pull out the glue gun? Or would I just find other closets that need cleaning or boxes that need sorting?

I have almost finished the editing on my blog book for 2011. I just have to finish the table of contents, layout the cover and upload it to Lulu for publishing. Even with over 150 pages, it's so routine after 9 books that I can get an entire year's worth of journal entries edited before the middle of January. That's one priority down, at least, and it even counts as somewhat creative.

Sometimes I think most of my creative urges are subsumed into work, but that's really no excuse. The vast majority of what I do there is completely routine, too. Sometimes I think I'll be more creative again in the future, when family isn't taking up so much time and energy, but that's no excuse either. Neither of my kids is stopping me from painting or quilling or collaging, instead of reading. It's not just a matter of TIME. Even though I often feel, and often complain, that I have no time, I have plenty of it. I just choose to fill it up with other things.

When I get home from work, I often spend 15 minutes walking through the house tidying. Putting things where they belong; yelling at the kids to come get THEIR things. 15 minutes to walk around the block when I get out of the car instead of going right inside. 15 minutes to clear off my art desk of all the miscellaneous crap that has been piled there, blocking any actual creativity. 15 minutes to get ready, get set, GO.

Beribboned Bundles of Belated Birthday Wishes to helloheather and blueberrymoon and an EXTRA BIG SMOOCH to Birthday Girl Marilyn!
mood: determined
music: Nickelback—Far Away


The thing with time and creativity is tricky though. Creativity does take some determination and discipline..but it also does take time. I mean...for the best creativity to kickstart, there is this need for a clear space in time, some silence from hectic needs, some big pause. That's not always easy to get, even though technically there is both time and no one is stopping you.

I totally agree with you. I think that's why I have such a hard time getting motivated about the creative stuff. I NEVER have clear space or silence. Except maybe during my family's ski trip week when I'm alone, but that's barely enough time to wind down. :)

It may seem silly to send yourself reminders about creative endeavors like working on the collage book, but honestly, it is not silly. Those are the very types of things that will just not get done if you don't allocate time for them. They are important too. Maybe not in the same way that a dentist appointment or an immigration card are important, but important nonetheless.
Some things just don't get done without a time, some space, rewards & or threats. Yes, I do threaten myself. Or I say Must Do this one particular thing (that I never seem to get to) before bed tonight. Like today it is to clear one of my bedside tables. I have meant to do it for a really long time, it is not the kind of thing I want to be doing before bed, AND it keeps getting bumped off of the list, so I decided after my "work day" was done and I chill for a while and then get ready for bed and feel all relaxed (as opposed to the rush around day) I will do this one last thing.

Also, my personal "collage book" was some writing exercises from a book I wanted to work with. Even reminders to myself wasn't working to get me writing. Finally I just set aside a day and that is what I did, writing exercises from the book.

My "to do list" can get overwhelmingly long. Sometimes I have to just choose ONE. THING. And do it.

Oh, and Do Not Give Up Your Reading for these other things, Liz. You need your reading. It fills you up. It is your creative well and your relaxing activity. You can make an appointment with yourself (for 15 minutes or a day) to work on your collage book, without giving up your reading. I know that finding niches in time can be hard.
Take baby steps.
OK, I'll climb down off of my soapbox now.

My to-do list(s) are always rather overwhelming, but at least I'm used to them that way.

And even if you are on a soapbox, it's an important one with an excellent message that I need to be reminded of!

I don't seem to have so much trouble writing, so I DO have that as a creative's the other arts that I can't seem to find time for these days.

Your family is so lucky, not only that you write such a beautiful blog, but that you're preserving it in hardcopy -- years from now, it will be a true family treasure not only for them, but for their kids, and their kids, and their kids...

I had only ordered one copy every year, up until now. NOW I'm ordering two (and going back and getting another copy of the old ones) so that both my kids will have a set. :)

I find I need not just the free time but also the free space mentally, to be able to do those things that I always push aside. It's the reverse for me in that reading is something I was never making time for, simply because I was always too brain dead to tackle the books I wanted to read after all the day's work was done, and zoning out in front of the tv was about all I felt up for.

Hence why I felt no remorse for doing none of those other things, cleaning, sorting old magazines, de-cluttering the dining room, during the Christmas break. I read four books in one week because I had the time and the mental energy to do so.

If you can chip away at it 15 minutes at a time, more power to you! With me it's all or nothing (hums to self).

*ssssh* It's all or nothing with me, too. But I'm trying!

From Megsie

I am in that "all or nothing" category too. And if you were sitting next to me you can see that it has been "nothing" for a while. But I also need lots of time to get to the starting point. The walking...well, that has to be routine for me, and it has to be first thing in the morning. Or I don't do it. Something always bumps it off. But the other stuff...the big cleans, the projects...well, those simmer on the back burner until they are threatening to boil over. (Sometimes the whole boil over thing has to happen.) I love the way you absolutely nail the truth of this. You are amazing... xoxo

Re: From Megsie

I can't do the walking first thing in the morning...I wish I could. I used to do it as soon as I got home, but since Karin's practices are so early and she has to eat something and then be driven, I find that no longer works :( I'm usually all or nothing myself, but I figured this was worth a try.

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