Monday, May 15, 2017

Carving Out Time and Space For the Creative Life

Whenever I teach a writing workshop, I always emphasize the treasures that unfold when we devote time to a creative life―even if only ten minutes a day. One woman in this weekend’s writing group said to me, “I’m so busy I don’t have any time to myself. Although I have always wanted to pursue writing comedy, I work three jobs.”

I asked if she felt she might cut back on the hours spent at work, figuring she was about my age when I “retired” from my career as a journalist. “You deserve time to yourself,” I said, at which she quickly protested that she deserved nothing. So, I suggested that maybe she had “earned” the right to slow down and enjoy a creative pursuit. Later, in our writing workshop, she wrote a few sentences, a memory, crafted in a way that had everyone laughing with pleasure.

Whenever our hopes, our dreams, our desire to dip a toe into the creative life are stymied
―whether by ourselves or others―it saddens me ... not just for the woman, herself, but the gifts to others that may never come to fruition.

I often see in my writing workshops so much untapped potential. In our short session I led on friendship―using a poem by Robert Frost as a writing prompt―one woman created a wonderful little poem right off the bat. (The Frost poem was about setting priorities for what matters in life.) She read her poem to the group and everyone liked it, encouraging her to say, “Oh, I love writing poetry, I always have. It comes easy to me.”

The “coming easy” part is particularly revealing.
My memoirs practically wrote themselves. No strain, no heavy lifting. Tapping our creative muse, our voice and spirit as we tell the stories we long to share, feels invigorating … a healthy and powerful step toward a richer life.

Later, we chatted and she again brought up how much she had enjoyed the opportunity to write a poem and read it aloud. “Have you ever thought about publishing a poetry chapbook?” I asked. She looked away, flustered. “Oh no, I don’t think I’m ready to publish anything.”

Whether we write, or paint, make music or cook up a new recipe, unlocking the creative spirit nurtures the very best in us while at the same time fostering community and fellowship.

When I first started the Women’s Writing Circle,
I wrote this, which turned out to be one of the most popular posts on the blog. It’s titled: Devoting a Morning to Ourselves. I knew it hit a chord with the simple message that support and validation energize the woman’s creative pursuit to devote a morning to herself.

As Julia Cameron writes in the Artist’s Way, we can “recover” our creative selves at any age, any stage of life.
"Creative living requires the luxury of time, which we carve out for ourselves―even if it’s fifteen minutes for morning pages and a ten-minute minibath after work. Creative living requires the luxury of space for ourselves, even if all we manage to carve out is one special bookshelf and a windowsill that is ours ….”

As I write this, I “indulge myself” in the quiet of my living room. Yes, I have things to do, obligations to meet, but for now I ponder sunlight as it streams through the window with a view of purple and pink petunias in a hanging basket. I ponder the last gasp of the white azaleas as they drop their delicate flowers on the driveway, a visual reminder that soon the heat of summer ushers in a whole new season, a whole new morning with no time to lose to create the life I long to live.

How about you? Can you share how you create the time to find room for creative pursuits, or, how difficult it can be to do so?

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