I have never awakened at 4 am so that writing is the first thing I do every day.
I have never been to a cabin in the woods in order to get away from it all and write.
I have never succeeded at writing every day for more than a couple of weeks.
I don't drink coffee… or tea… If I go to a coffee shop to write, I drink hot chocolate. And yes, I would like whip cream.
There are a lot of rules around how, where, and when one must write in order to be successful. There are lots of tips and tricks and enduring stereotypes for what a writer's life looks like. And I suppose if you own a cabin in the woods and don't have responsibilities to a community or family- that cabin could be used to write at 4 am while you sip coffee. But for the rest of us… we have to make time within an already busy life.
Since we do not, in fact, have the same number of hours in a day as Beyonce, how in the world do we find time to practice our craft?
There are lots of stories about artists using whatever time they have in the day. Angela Davis tells a story about watching Toni Morrison take out a piece of paper, place it on the steering wheel, and write sentences she didn't want to forget while driving!
Initially, artists take time. They aren't creating it… they are taking it. They are using the time when no one needs anything of them. They take that time and give it to their craft, to themselves. I'm pretty convinced that artists take time out of an irresistible urge to create. And that is the part that can't be taught.
I don't say this as judgment if you are having trouble finding the time to dig into your craft right now. That is real. With multiple responsibilities always pulling at you, finding the time to be still, clear your mind, and tap into your soul is asking a lot. So no shame here, friends. All I want to impart is how important it is to nurture that deep desire. It can be ignored. It can be pushed aside. It can be pushed down. You can pretend it doesn't exist, that it's not important. But if you don't let that urge breathe, if you don't feed it, if you don't acknowledge it- you’ll never take the time it’s asking you to give.
When you feel the story burning inside you- you'll steal time. And there won't be any rhyme or reason to those stolen moments. It might happen at 4 am… it might also happen at 10 pm. It might happen over coffee… or it could happen over lunchtime. Maybe it will be at a cabin in a lush forest, but it might be during the kid's bath time, nap time, or playtime.
For those who turn their craft into a business, the hope is that you'll eventually be given time. You'll be given time because you're really good and your partner or parent or roommates help make it possible to carve out time. You'll be given time because you're being paid for your work; once you're being paid, working on your craft is a job. If you begin to reorganize your life around your craft (changing your job for more flex time, moving closer to family for help, or applying for grants and fellowships), you'll find that you are giving yourself the time.
Whether you are stealing time or you have been given time, there is still one important question: Will you take it?
Amidst already full lives, it can be hard to sit in the chair. We have options these days. Social media accounts. Streaming services. Huge TBR stacks (books on your to-be-read list). Other things you're trying to achieve- cooking more, exercising more, cleaning more, spending more time with your community… Does the story within compel you to sit in the chair? Because the part you can't steal and no one can give you is the passion to say yes to the moment- whenever it arrives.
How are you cultivating your creativity?
What habits, people, or practices do you have in place to protect your time?
When juggling, life, work and family, time for your craft can be hard to come by. What is one small moments you can snatch to begin working on your dream project?
What's the story you feel compelled to tell through your craft?
How did you steal time when you first started your craft? Share in the comments. Your idea could help someone else!