Tag Archives: schedule

Finding the right time to create

Owl cover stamp

Are you a night owl or a morning person? When do you become most energized? When are you the most productive? When are you the most reflective? Your creativity will be enhanced if you can find the best time for you to do each kind of work.

Sometimes life gets in the way. Some time ago by following my daughter in her unusual sleep schedule, I discovered that very early mornings were wonderful for me to do deep creative thinking and processing. I found myself especially productive when I was writing in the predawn hours. What is interesting to me, is that just after I wake up is not the same as super early morning for that kind of productive work. I guess it is something to do with the diurnal rhythm and the sun coming up.

Predawn, I find myself in the flow – that wonderful, timeless state where the words pour out and decided me it’s morning and other people start to need me.

Unfortunately ordinary life can get in the way of choosing when I can work. It would be wonderful to get up at 4 AM every day and get in four hours of productive work even before anyone else is about. Sometimes my body lets me down, and I just need more sleep.

But sometimes it is the allure of the night that prevents me from sleeping. I have always been a night owl from my theater days, and I find the dark seems to energize my thinking.

What is not helpful for me at night, is trying to complete project work – handwork or tasks that require a lot of visual acuity. There have been many times in my life when a deadline has forced me to pull an all-nighter. But the work from these sessions was never as good, and now I substitute planning instead of urgency.

When you are trying to determine when your most creative time of day is, consider that there are many different types of activity. There is the learning and planning stage. There is the producing of artworks or expressive pieces. Then there is the critiquing and evaluating of the work that you have done, the editing. There is also the need for mental exercises and creativity work not connected to specific projects (like reading this blog). The seeking of inspiration, time just noodling, and time practicing skills might need different times of day from the knuckle-down-and-work time.

Think about which activities energize you. Those will be one that are good to do early in the day – that will keep you awake and alert. Finishing a task early gives a sense of accomplishment and inspiration.

Then consider which activities relax you, or give you a sense of release. Those are the ones that are great to do towards the end of your day, when you can look back and feel satisfied.

Either way, the important thing is to know your self and to schedule your most productive work at the time that works for you.

 

Five Ideas for Jumpstarting Creativity

No preamble – here are five great ways to jumpstart your creativity today:

1. Make an  External Change.

Change is the greatest creativity kick starter there is. If you are stuck, change your environment. The fastest fix is to go for a walk, or perhaps a bike ride. Go somewhere to sit. Change your view out the window.

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” ~ Jane Austen

Disney Concert Hall tree and spiral

Or make a bigger, if temporary, change. Work in a different part of the house, or a different place altogether. J.K. Rowling loves coffee shops for writing:

“My ideal writing space is a large cafe with a small corner table near a window overlooking an interesting street (for gazing out of in search of inspiration).”

One of the reasons people go on artists’ retreats is the change of environment. Use the change as impetus for some quick creativity jump start exercises.

  • Notice and list 10 different objects or items in this new environment that aren’t in your old space.
  • Use all four walls to inspire four zentangle doodles.
  • Look for shapes in the clouds.
  • Play a different piece of music inspired by the space. Startle yourself.

2. Revisit The Old.

Go to a place, read a book, watch a favorite movie or enjoy a song from the past, especially those that stirred emotions. It might be the comfort of a beloved book, a movie that always makes you smile or cry, a song that you always dance to, or a place that you haven’t seen in a while. Take a break to a happy place to refresh your spirit.

Ancient classics in a row

Or rediscover the old and almost forgotten – old notes from past projects or journals, old projects still incomplete. We call these UFO’s – UnFinished Objects. Sometimes time has softened their edges and it’s time to dismantle the contents or take the whole story in a new direction.

  •  Maybe an old story will inspire an illustration.
  • Choose colors for how you feel and pin them to a vision board for a pallette.
  • What had you forgotten from your notes? How do they apply to your current project?

3. Try Something New.

Not to instantly achieve mastery, but instead to inspire originality in your ongoing work, play with a new art form. If you write, try visual art. If you predominantly explore one genre, play around with the conventions of another. If you always work by hand, explore CGI. If you always create on a device, remind your hand what a pencil feels like.

Try a new medium. If you generally work in acrylics, try paint chip mosaic or embroidery. If you usually play piano, try some electronic percussion.

Add a new activity to your day. If you rarely read, set aside half an hour for a book – try a compilation of short stories. Bake, garden, sew something. Bring in a piece of history – an activity that is rare now – polish your leather shoes, darn sox. These kinds of gently physical activities can be very meditative.

 4. Play With A Child

Always without a time table, allow the child to direct the play. Follow their lead and direction. It will probably be magical. You will see the world in a new way. You might have to improvise a whole story about a doll and its animal spirit guide.

Jayn with her doll

 5. Make an Internal Change

Not forever – unless it works fantastically – try working to a different schedule or muss your routine. If you are a night owl, try an early morning work session. If you set your tools down at sunset, try getting up at midnight. Try – just as a test – reordering your task list.

If you always plan every detail of your work first with sketches and detailed instructions, try doing something off the cuff without a plan. Or a baby step: if you generally lay out all your tools before you start, would pausing to fetch each one as you need it change your process to one that was more extemporaneous or simpler? Embrace the random.

Or conversely if you always improvise as you go, waiting to see what emerges from your process, try giving yourself strict guidelines or a definite plan. Write a treatment or outline before starting your story. Lay out all your tools.

butterflies and tools

I’ve always planned essays, but improvised stories. I’ve researched and made sketches, been very plan oriented in set design, but embraced random serendipity with art dolls. More and more, I find having a plan, writing a treatment, working to my own sketch, to be helpful. There are more steps, but the final result is better. And how I love mind storms and vision books.

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