Every month I look forward to receiving an email from Death to the Stock Photo. This month was no exception. They dropped free photos in my inbox with a writing prompt. What’s not to love? I’m a visual person, so I do a little happy dance when someone offers free images. And as a writer, I can’t look away from a writing prompt. Ever.
This prompt asked, “How do you give yourself the space necessary to create?”
Then a list of obstacles stacked up on the screen, like the enemy line marching toward me, threatening to stifle my creativity. Basically the pace at life with which we live and our, ahem, affection for our mobile devices, keeps us permanently distracted and staunches the flow of the proverbial creative juices.
Well. That’s encouraging, isn’t it?
I was also reminded of a recent Tweet a writer shared. Apparently it resonated with many because it was mentioned in The Writer magazine this month. @AshiLabouisse said …
“Being a good writer is 3% talent and 97% not being distracted by the internet.”
I couldn’t agree more.
My ‘day job’ is being a stay-at-home mom to our three young boys. We are in a season of life where all three are in school. This is the most ‘alone’ time I’ve had in eleven years.
And how quickly I waste it, mindlessly scrolling. It starts with the best intentions: posting an update to my author page, then cross-promoting to my other platforms. Before long, I’ve wandered down a dozen rabbit trails and it’s time for the noon run to the preschool to fetch the youngest. My manuscript remains not one word richer.
So I’m back to the question that started this whole thing. How do I make space to create?
- Remove the temptation. I leave the computer turned off and pull out a yellow legal pad, instead. A great cup of coffee and a nice pen almost always leads to a productive writing session.
- Going for a walk, preferably outside. Exercising at the gym is my preferred venue, but there are so many conversations, televisions blaring, treadmills humming that I’m constantly distracted. But a walk through the neighborhood gives me a chance to breath and introduces different scenery. Before long, I’m mulling over a scene or letting my imagination run wild. I always get home ready to be creative.
- Clear out the distractions. I like to work at our dining room table. It’s awesome because I can’t see any of the undone chores taunting me. As long as the dishes are in the dishwasher, I’m good to go.
I definitely don’t have it all figured out. But I can recognize my shortcomings and I know that keeping my smartphone and laptop close at hand only leads to low productivity. Right now I’m marketing a new novel and struggling mightily to balance promotion with creativity. Setting small, manageable goals seems to be the best way to conquer this challenge: write 500 words in a new scene, or critique one submission from my writing partners before posting anything on social media about my novel.
Your turn: how do you make space to be creative?
a shout out to Paul Jarvis, Death to the Stock Photo and Canva for the images and graphic design.