The other evening, as I was running an easy four miles in the foothills, I started thinking about work. I began making a mental list of what I needed to accomplish the next day: two blog posts for a client, media outreach for a book I’m promoting, PR to-dos for my own book, a few other miscellaneous tasks in between. I thought through how much time each task would take. I planned the rest of the week and what needed to be done. I began brainstorming ideas for, for…
…for what, exactly? I’m not working on anything creative at the moment. Instead of spending my time dreaming up my latest and greatest endeavor, I was making a mental to-do list, ticking off the tasks I’d already completed and planning for the things that weren’t yet done. But when the planning was done, where did that leave me? Where was my creative bolt of lightning? Where was my blissful brainstorm? Running used to be the time when I was in my purest state of creativity. What was going on?
And then it struck me: I’m in a new-mommy rut.
I love what I do, don’t get me wrong. But lately things have gotten a bit too easy—a bit too predictable. I’m not pushing myself in any big and exciting ways. I’m not starting my workday with joy and finishing projects with a sense of fulfillment.
I love what I do, but I need more.
There is one big reason for this rut: I’m the proud mommy of a wonderful 16-week-old little love. Babies kind of take a lot of time and energy, which means less time for creative pursuits.
You see, I used to be able to hole up in my office, working on my latest projects, not worrying too much about the quantitative results (read: money) my work was producing. It was okay to be creative just for the sake of creativity. I could take on projects because I liked the author or believed in the book, and I didn’t have to concern myself too much with how much dough said projects pulled in.
Now, I feel as though I should be making money if I’m spending time away from my baby.
But while I’ve spent the last few months in survival mode, trying to balance motherhood, wifehood, writerhood, and maintaining-my-sanityhood, I’m realizing that my creativityhood is suffering. I’ll admit: I almost feel like it’s selfish to spend time focusing solely on creative pursuits. And yet, creativity is at the heart of everything I do as a professional.
My creative space is precious. It makes me a better writer. It gives meaning to my work. It even makes running more enjoyable because I spend my time thinking creatively, rather than strategically planning my busy workweek.
I need to find time for creativity. But how?
Here are a few of my initial ideas:
- Devote nighttime work (after the baby goes to bed) to solely creative endeavors.
- Devote 15 minutes to creativity at the start of each workday. I used to watch TED talks each morning—maybe I should revive that habit?
- Set creative goals. They should have nothing to do with work and everything to do with creativity. One goal I’ve already set? To polish and submit a creative nonfiction essay to literary journals.
- Shake up my workspace. My walls are bare, and my office is admittedly a bit boring-looking. I think it’s time to add some pizzazz. I’m also planning to work more outside my home to help stimulate my senses and breathe some life into my workday.
So, those are my thoughts for now. I’ll be thinking of more ideas on how to reinvigorate my creativity. How do you stay creative?