Scoops and Swoops Issue Two Nov 2009

Welcome to Scoops and Swoops, the creativity newsletter
Barbara Martin
Issue Two   November 2009
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I.   Feature Article — Creating: the Time of Your Life
II. The Daily Writer Notes continue! (Get ’em while you can)
III. SPECIAL BONUS — Your “Must Have” Creativity Tool
I.  FEATURE Creating: The Time of Your Life
Have you recently rediscovered just how few hours there are in a single day? I don’t just mean daylight hours. With “the holidaze” on top of the rest of what we normally do, this is ground zero prime time for calibrating your commitment to your creativity. 
Now that we’ve put turkey day under our belts, many of us still face longer to-do lists and extras on the want-to-do lists and pesky add-ons to the blessed should-do and expected-to-do lists. Holiday parties, holiday preparation, holiday shopping, holiday visiting, holiday celebrating all take time and mental energy.
Our usual balancing act — precarious as it may or may not be in the best of times — can come up short, or shorter than usual. Too often, our creative time takes the brunt of the short-changing as we struggle to come up with extra hours to pack in everything.
This is a concentrated dose of how we become sucked into wasteful time sinks all the year round, not just during this notoriously busy season. We fail to preserve the time we need to do what we are called to do for our creativity.  Besides giving up the hours of the day, we fail to conserve the mental energy required to create, to work deeply and to satisfy our own pressing, private, inner need.
So what happens to us? We become stressed, miserable, and frustrated. Resentful. Out and out cranky. How is this a mindset for creating in a state of flow? It’s not.
It’s not reasonable to expect to do your best work, or any solid work at all, when you are not allowing yourself to take the time and energy you need to stay focused and energized and motivated.
So the idea of balance becomes more an issue of where to strike that balance — where is the tipping point, the sweet spot, for you? Each person will have their own point of no return, that place where too much distraction makes creating impossibly painful, the spot where overwhelm hits us hard. So what can we do to protect ourselves, our creativity, our time, our energy, our will to create?
Here are a few pointers. Maybe some will work for you.
***Know yourself. You know in your heart how much you can handle before adversity strikes. If you know your limits, you can begin to set boundaries.  In other words, put your creativity first. Sometimes we loosen our hold on our creative time, or we bend too far because we don’t want to upset or disappoint someone. Or we make compromise after compromise until we have let things get too far. And then we feel the negative aftermath of guilt or anger or frustration or fall into depression because we aren’t creating the way we know we should, the way we know we must.
***Put your creativity first. What would happen if you put your creativity first? This can be really tough, and not just because this is a busy season. It’s tough in every season because so many buttons get pushed in so many quarters from so many directions.
***Protect yourself. It is critical to recognize the assault for what it is, and take measures to protect yourself.  What kind of measures? We go back to the old tried and true but hard to stomach approaches:
— Using a regularly scheduled block of time helps make creating a daily habit.
— The schedule allocates the necessary time, but it also helps you believe your creativity is important and worthwhile and deserving of your focus and attention. You have to take your creativity seriously, because if you don’t then who else will?
— Get up earlier, before the rest of the household.  If you dedicate time to creating first thing in the day, you will accomplish that first thing, before other duties or distractions take hold and the day runs away with itself.
— Find a regular block of time that you can count on. For instance, create during your lunch hour. If you can double-task by creating during your commute or some other inevitable but routine time waster, so much the better. Or cut the screen time — television or the games or the gasp interwebz. Turn off the Twitter! (hahaha)
***Say that you are scheduling creative time appointment and Close. The. Door.
— Say it like you mean it. Mark it on your calendar. Quite often family and friends, including children, will be supportive of your creative appointment as long as you honor it by using the time to create and by thanking them for helping you with your project.  They may not fully understand it, but they will accept it.
***Conserve your energy by saying no. Yes, this is hard sometimes. But without focus, you will not be creating a darn thing. You know this!
— Creativity requires mental energy, hours on the clock, and the feeling of spaciousness in your life. If you always say yes to outside commitments, outside engagements, outside activities, outside excuses erm, “Just say no” is not a bad motto to have.
— Saying no can be especially challenging for women who have pressing family and other commitments and feel compelled to say yes whenever the ask is made.  Guess what. There is nothing wrong with saying “Thank you, I already have plans.” Or, “I’m sorry, I just can’t work that into my schedule.” Or the ever-popular, “I have an Appointment.” Or just say, “No.”
These mysterious previously laid plans are your own plans to provide yourself with the free time you know you need to stay sane; time you reserve to spend alone — either creating, or refilling the well so you stay inspired and energized enough to create.  If you don’t say no, the one who suffers will be you. So don’t do that to yourself.
***Guard your down time. Down time is time to regroup, recharge, and renew your passion for creating. Creative people require this.
— Maintaining your commitment and inspiration are critically important, and sustaining that inner fire absolutely hinges on taking the time to do nothing. It might seem self indulgent at the outset, but it’s not.  That is a simplistic view.  How many creative ideas have you had while “noodling” or “puttering” or “playing around” or “doing nothing in particular” only to feel a surge of creativity come seemingly from nowhere? Exactly.
***Bottom Line, YOU MUST BELIEVE. Probably the hardest part of all these common-sense pointers is that you must believe in your own heart and mind, with your entire being, that time spent on your creativity is essential. Non-negotiable. What could happen if you considered your creative time to be so important that your life depended on it?
Your creative life does depend on it.  What could happen if you committed to nurturing your creativity every single day, if you slammed down the gauntlet, if you embraced the mantra “Create or Die!” —  How determined would you be? 
Is that melodramatic? You tell me. If you are not putting your creativity at the top of the list of priorities, where is it on your list? In the top three? Somewhere in the top half? Lost in the scatters?
I am asking you to take a hard look. If you are not acting as though your creativity is important, if creativity is not a priority for you here and now, why not?  If not now, then when?
Please take this as encouragement to give yourself the gift of creative time to spend in any way you wish. I hope you will send me a note one day and tell me how you have used your creative time this coming month because I would love to know!
The short little (and free) Daily Writer Notes of encouragement and head scratchering will continue through December.  If you haven’t subscribed yet, sign up for these brief notes of goodness delivered to your inbox each morning. 
You already know about the need for a license to write badly.
 A license to *create* badly could come in handy, too.
Handy on those “interesting” days of hesitation or stuckification or blockage or uncertainty. Those days when the blank canvas or the blank page or the emptiness are too much to face down.  So here ya go!  DOWNLOAD YOUR LICENSE NOW!
This is the download page for creativity peeps of all stripes: Writers get an extra special boost because we’re … special. Instructions:  Please PRINT your license. SIGN IT so it is valid. ENJOY!
You might print it onto nice paper and frame it for display where you will see it often. Or, if you prefer, a dotted line is provided to facilitate trimming to a more personal and conveniently portable index card size. (Do NOT obsess over this trimming, please.) If you like to laminate stuff, this is perfect for that. Or you could stash it in your favorite binder or add it to your journal. If you are the type of person who likes to decorate things, feel free. If you feel the urge to add color and doodle around the edges in gold ink or do collage with it or infuse it with scent, whatever, far be it from me to hold you back on that. As a wordy, I am happy with it sort of plain Jane. But you do what you want! It’s all yours. It’s playtime, baby!
That’s about it for this issue of Scoops and Swoops, the creativity newsletter from Reptitude. Thanks again for reading.   Barbara Martin
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