Creativity is something many people have, but don’t use. There were times in college I can remember going weeks without doing anything other than homework and consuming other people’s creations. It’s important to continuously exercise your creativity – though you won’t be able to do this everywhere you go. Sometimes work, people and just life in general get in your way. That’s why you have to learn to block out time in your schedule for everything – including your own personal, private time to be creative.
Here are all the things you can expect to have to balance – not including Adult Responsibilities, which you just have to do regardless of whether you want to or not – if you want to live a healthy, fulfilling and vastly creative life.
I’ve turned down way too many chances to spend time with people I like for the sake of writing, and that’s not recommended. Even creative people who consider themselves introverts need a social life. People who go out into the world, form relationships and experience real life are better writers – and more creative, in terms of application, in general. Make time for friends, family, significant others, whoever is in your life that’s important to you. Plan something social outside of school/work at least once a week. Go out to breakfast or lunch or for a drink with someone. You need it. And you DO have time for it, whether you think you do or not.
Writing or being creative at work does not count as a creative project. I don’t even consider more creative freelancing gigs to be creative projects. I think there needs to be a separation between the things you create as part of your job/career and the things you create voluntarily. It’s hard to approach creativity the same way under someone else’s guidance than when you’re calling all the shots. It sounds exhausting, having a creative career working under someone else and then coming home to work on your own projects, but trust me, if you really want to stretch your limits, you’ll make it work. Sometimes, you’ll work jobs you couldn’t care less about. At some point, you might run headfirst into your dream career. Balancing that with your own personal work is still hard – but it’s absolutely possible.
Dedicate time, maybe in the evenings or on weekends, to spend time with your hobbies. Anything you like to do on your own time – usually without any stress or negative pressure to excel – can be considered a hobby. I like to play video games sometimes. It’s fun, it’s stimulating and I can get lost in it for hours at a time (but I usually don’t, because who has time for that? …). I look forward to Saturday nights when I have a few spare hours to do some much-needed zombie slaughtering. Some people play sports. Even things like writing, dancing and music are hobbies – unless you’re working on something specific, like choreographing or writing a poem. Writing in general can be your hobby; writing a poem is technically a creative project.
Creative projects can be hobbies, but the idea behind making time for creativity specifically is that you always have something you’re working on – something with a start and end point. I’m always working on a novel in the background, for example, even if it’s not my priority. It’s not my work, but it’s also not my hobby. A creative project forces you to actually do something with your creative motivations. It’s not always relaxing – sometimes it’s even harder than your actual job. But if you’re a true creative, you’re going to need this time to literally or figuratively sketch out and develop the many ideas popping up in your head.
You can’t forget to take care of yourself – no matter how busy you think you are. Things like cooking, exercising and sleep are not going to take away from your productivity. In fact, the healthier you are, the more productive you are going to be. So set aside at least an hour or so every night just for you. You can watch Netflix or play games on your phone … it doesn’t matter. Stop working. Give your brain a rest. And then PHYSICALLY rest. Go to sleep. Use Bedtime, if you have an iPhone. Set a specific sleep-wake pattern for yourself and stick with it. Sleep deprivation and stress WILL kill your creativity, 100 percent.
Be creative. Make time. It’s worth it – but only if you put as much time and effort into it as you want and need to.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.