Staying Creative When Life Gets Crazy

3:47 PM


In other words: how to mostly keep your sanity and make things a little bit easier when you feel swamped.

School. (So much school.) Social stuff. (Ew.) Twitter. (Necessary.) Work. (Time-consuming, tiring, etc.) It feels like everything got crazy earlier this year and hasn't slowed down soon. I'm caught in a whirlpool of life and obligations and everything else, and suddenly, there's a lot less time -- and energy for that matter -- for the creative life and the things I really want to do. I'm exhausted, so writing falls to the wayside. I want to work on that podcast I have in mind (more on that later) but when I sit down, I have people to text back and shows that aren't going to watch themselves. Even journaling doesn't happen as often as it used to since I had everything else to do. When I do get a moment to myself, I'm not exactly in the mood to be creative or use any more mental/emotional/physical energy.

Life is busy. Burnout happens. 

This is kind of inevitable, as much as I hate it. 

Still, if the creative life is important to you -- and making time for all the creative things I want to do is very important to me -- there are definitely ways to make juggling everything a little easier and keep your creative muscles working on a regular basis. I'm not an expert by any means, but I've figured out some tips and tricks lately. 


If you're serious about this stuff and you really want to pursue it -- whether it's writing, poetry, music, painting, etc., it's probably a good idea to make that one of your priorities. Sometimes it's not a matter of not having a time, it's a matter of managing your time better. Let's be real here, it's not that you literally "don't have time" to do the things. It's that time is being used up in the wrong places. i totally don't spend too much time on Netflix, nope. And sometimes, scheduling time to do those creative things means you'll take it more seriously and you've devoted a solid hour to doing that thing, and that thing only. 

It's not fun. I don't want to spend an hour a day writing and doing nothing else. I don't do it every day, though I'm getting better. But when I make that hour "writing time", I don't have any excuses or ways to get out of it. It's part of my schedule, and I'm more likely to get it done.
Image result for busy schedule gif


Yeah, yeah, I know. 

I don't want to do it either. 

As a lazy homeschooler, especially, it's tempting to sleep in until 10 or 11 or so to get some energy. It's even more tempting to sleep in on the weekends, when I don't have as much to do and it's technically a "break". But if you really could use an extra hour or two in your life, maybe it'll benefit you like it benefits me to wake up closer to 7 or 8. You can use that extra time to wake up more, or get started on writing, or whatever it is you need to do, depending on how well you can function in the morning. It's hard at first, but once you get into the swing of it, you'll feel a lot better. 

Of course, this is definitely helped by getting to sleep at a decent time and keeping your sleep cycle regular. That sounds pointless, but seriously, you'll feel so much better. You'll have more time to do stuff, you'll feel more refreshed, and your creative brain will be more awake and alert when you need it. Win-win-win.
Image result for sleeping in gif


Sometimes, you don't have a whole hour for sitting down and writing or being artsy. Some days really are just that crazy, and you feel like you're going to go out of your mind doing boring pointless things. That, my friend, is where having a phone/laptop/tablet and a good pair of earbuds/headphones comes in handy. 

There are like a billion podcasts out there, in every topic you can imagine. (my favorites are story-ish ones: Welcome to Night Vale, Sayer, Within the Wires, and so on.) Whatever you listen to, they can keep your creative juices flowing, make you think, make you laugh, keep you entertained, and give you inspiration, and you can do them while doing other stuff. If you're like me and it helps you to do homework or basic chores while listening to something (and you can focus on homework while listening at the same time) this is a great option. Audiobooks have the same purpose, of course. 

Music. We all love music. The right music can make anything more bearable, and turn the most boring and dull of days into something inspiring happening in your ears. Listen to stuff that pumps you up and reminds you of your creative projects, and you're all set. (this is good for doing while doing school and stuff, since podcasts involve more listening and focus than a song you already know and love.)
Image result for listening to music gif
totally focusing. totally not jamming out.

Pretty self-explanatory and yeah, yeah, I know, you don't want to do this one, either. Vegging out and marathoning The Office (guess what I've been watching lately) is easier and more fun than getting your art on. You would rather be doing that.

Sometimes, you've gotta prioritize and let your brain work. There's a time and a place for being "inspired" by shows. this is a fancy word for procrastinating 90% of the time.
Image result for netflix gif
unfortunately, there's a time and a place.

Again, it all comes down to procrastination. It's tough when we just want a break, but if you want to make creativity happen, you have to accept that it's not going to be perfect. Some days you're not going to wake up at six in the morning and settle down on the front porch with Starbucks and your laptop and classical music and write 1k before anyone else is awake or ready to function. You're not going to have long creativity-fueled nights. Sometimes, you have to do what you can what you can -- a few paragraphs between classes, ten minutes of practice at lunch, working while you eat, and so on. Take the opportunities you have and make them happen, instead of waiting for the right moment.
Image result for don't hug me i'm scared creative gif
*muffled screaming*
Perspective is crucial. Sure, Youtube and a snack sounds great right now, way better than practicing. Sure, stabbing yourself in the eye sounds a lot better than writing in the moment. But surely you've got goals bigger than that -- finish a drawing, finish a novel, write a comic, put together a song, become an author/songwriter/artist/etc. and you don't get anywhere without work. You have to make sacrifices and put in the hard labor sometimes, and you have to show up, even when you don't want to. Perserverence is key, and keeping at it is the most important.

So when you're tempted, remember your goals. Write them on a piece of paper and tape them up on the wall. Set an alarm on your phone. Write a note and tape it on your laptop to remind you every time you reach for Pinterest: this is what you're trying to do, and this is what you want to accomplish, and you won't let petty distractions get in the way.

Creativity isn't always glamorous, and it's hard to manage in a busy environment. But it can be done.


What do you do to stay creative?

26 comments

  1. Nice. *thumbs up*
    Something that's helpful for me is little snippets of creativity. It takes me a while to get in the writing mindset, and I often don't have "a while" to devote to anything but schoolwork. So I'll write a poem. Or make a collage. Or draw a terrible little doodle. It gives me a chance to be creative without devoting a ton of time to writing or any other artistic thing I currently feel the need to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, even just a little bit is great! I have to fit in little snippets and chunks of things like that all the time, and it's way less stressful than forcing myself to do a ton which I just don't have the time.

      Delete
  2. Lord knows I love Netflix, but it's also the most gigantic/enjoyable time suck ever.
    I'm at a point where my days are pretty much consumed by either doing schoolwork or avoiding doing schoolwork, so writing has fallen by the way side a bit, which I hate. I've been trying to schedule my time better, and sneak in little pockets of writing time when I can--hopefully it'll help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhh I'm in the same boat! Having a job and schoolwork and still wanting to, you know, see the outside world and friends occasionally, means that a lot of the time I forget that I want writing to be a priority and that falls to the side. I'm trying to put aside Netflix this week and try to focus more on the things I should be doing so I'm not making excuses for not having enough time, though, so hopefully I can pull it together...

      Delete
  3. Ah! I've been waking up around 7 so I can have a bit before starting up homeschooler life for writing. It is really hard to find the time though with life's every demand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It totally is -- life is so CRAZY sometimes and it's kind of the worst.

      Delete
  4. This was so great, Aimee! I throw together a collage for the story I'm working on to stay creative - it works *nods*. Visuals help keep me motivated and wanting to write.

    ~ Savannah
    scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh that's a great idea! I'm a visual person, so that would probably help me...

      Delete
  5. I find that the busier I am, the more likely I am to make time for creative pursuits! If I don't, I wind up feeling guilty that I'm wasting time doing things I hate instead of things I love. Busy schedule + lots of creating in my spare time = HAPPY ASTRID.

    Astrid
    www.astridkaniele.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That makes sense! There's a good balance between work things and creative things, and we tend to be unhappy when we can't find the balance. I just read John Scalzi's writing book (which i recommend by the way) and he made the point that he has to balance out his "day job" (nonfiction, corporate writing) with the writing and creating he does for "fun" and all the fiction stuff, and keeping that balance makes him better at both, which I think is a great point.

      Delete
  6. Amazing post Aimee! As much as I love Netflix, it's probably not the best idea for a productive day. I definitely agree with the waking up early one, if I wake up at 11, I feel like I can't have a productive day.

    ~ Noor

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dude I would spend all day on Netflix if I could. Which isn't a good habit, but it's the truth...so it's probably a habit I need to start breaking.

      Delete
  7. Great post, Aimee! It's funny that you wrote about getting up earlier, because that's exactly what I've been trying to do for the past week. After the first few days, it becomes almost automatic. And that means more writing time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Getting up earlier is actually the worst at first, but I've definitely found that the more you do it, the easier it gets.

      Delete
  8. Girl, I did a post about creativity a month or so ago, but it doesn't even hold a candle to this. <3 SO MUCH YASSS!!! Like, you're soooo right! It's not that I don't have time, it's just that I has no time management skills. Also Netflix. Hahaha. ha. Ha. *cries*
    Anywho, I'm really inspired to get off the internet and go do something creative now. So Yay! And THANKS!
    BTW, GIFS = on point!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Extreme love for this post. <3 (also, that emma watson gif! <3)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've found that doing a few basic things like not looking at my phone as soon as I wake up, actually eating at mealtimes instead of all day, and making sure my room/workspace is clean really help me to get it together and manage my time better, which, in turn, helps me to have more time to be creative (by the way, nice 'Don't Hug Me, I'm Scared' gif. Now I'm going to have THAT stuck in my head for another week.). Anyway, lovely post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yeah and drowning myself in Netflix/TV shows/YouTube in general is to be avoided at all costs. The worst things are shows with episodes that are only 20 minutes long, because it's soooo easy to convince yourself that watching 30 of them is fine, haha.

      Delete
    2. Sigh, Netflix sucks away so much of my time it's not even funny. I really need to get my life together.

      Delete
  11. YES YES YES YES YES. I've barely had time to write recently, and that sucks. I'd far, far, far rather do something else. But it must be done (so must homework, which I give priority, and a zillion other things, but yes). One thing that has helped me keep writing recently in the craziness is a) forcing myself to stick to a blogging schedule (post writing is better than no writing, and taking photos/graphis is also creative), and also taking a (super fun) writing class in which creative writing is homework (but the most fun type.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Life is so crazy, isn't it? It can be really really hard to make stuff happen when you have to balance school, and homework, and work, and blogging, and writing, and whatever else you happen to be doing. I'm still trying to figure out how to make it happen.

      Delete
  12. Whenever I'm busy, it seems like I never manage to make time to be creative, and then I end up feeling SO BURNT OUT because it's just draining doing tedious things all day and never having a chance to be creative! I'm working really hard right now on planning out my time so that I still make time to be creative. I'm usually okay about staying away from Netflix, but Twitter is another story entirely. XD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, right? There are so many creative things I would rather be doing, and it's hard when I feel like I don't have enough time to recharge and get it done.

      Delete
  13. These are fantastic tips. Netflix is like my own black hole.

    ReplyDelete

hey. hey. talk to me. i'm a fan of comments and flailing with you. go for it.