I’ve almost finished the book Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel. I picked up several good ideas and learned some things about the creative process and myself. The author makes a few points worth repeating.
In the chapter on starting, he suggests that each day you clearly state your intention to work or not work on your current project. Not working for a day is fine. Everyone needs a break. By clearly stating your intentions, you eliminate the guilt and “should haves”. This technique works in many other areas too.
He also pointed out that most artists have day jobs. He believes it takes a good two to three hours after leaving the day job to get whatever happened there out of your system. This is why many people find it difficult to work creatively in the evenings. He recommends getting up an hour early at least five days a week and working on your current project. At that level of commitment a person can write a book in a year.
I decided to incorporate both of these habits into my life to see what would happen. The first one comes easy, and I do feel less guilt when I decide not to work for a day than I did when I didn’t work by default. Intending to work and then running out of time happened too much, especially on weekends. It made me crabby. I also started waking up earlier and working on a project first thing, after attending to physical needs and a few small tasks I don’t want to forget.
Over the next month, I will share my experiences with pre-dawn creative work. I plan to track how much time I work each morning and how much I accomplish. I decided to work at least 30 minutes a day five days a week, although 45 minutes a day six days a week is my ultimate goal. I started this experiment on November 16th. By December 15th, I should know whether or not I can maintain this schedule and increase my productivity.
I decided to do this for a couple important reasons and several minor ones. I have so many ideas and lack the time to explore them. I have sketches and notes in notebooks, binders, file folders and computer files. Ideas flow for me. Working just a few hours on weekends doesn’t get me through a fraction of them. I need to devote more time to creative expression.
I’m also considering a creative project that doesn’t relate to quilting or fiber, and I need to know if I can fit it in my life. Since my life overflows, lengthening my day becomes the only option.
I figure the side benefits will include busting more stash, completing more projects, learning more cool techniques and having fun playing with them, and less tension in my life. Maybe I’ll even smile a little more. I still plan to work on projects in the evenings, so the morning time adds to my normal efforts.
So far it feels luxurious and decadent to do what I enjoy before I do anything for anyone else. I can also see that I work a little slower in the wee hours and I’m more conscious of making noise. A little planning the night before will make the experiment run smoother.
I will post time totals and a project summary later this week so you can see my progress. I’ll also let you know if fatigue becomes a factor and I end up going to bed earlier to make up the sleep. I have no preconceived ideas about the outcome of this experiment, but it should be interesting. If this doesn’t work out, I’ll try something else.