How to create an environment during the day that supports your artistic & creative goals at night.
My heart yearns for my library. Where my beautiful books and vintage record console is. Where there is order and openness. Where two simple chairs sit in front of a book shelf that lines the back wall of the room. Where all my journals are, note pads waiting to be filled, and a pile of current books that I am reading. My lap top waits for me on a side table. Wondering when I will get home and get to creating something. The cat watches out the front window and adorns all my valuables with her butterscotch blonde hair. Some of that hair is hidden within the binding of those books. They sit and wait. They understand that we will be united. My heart yearns for my library.
I am not in my library. I am surrounded by steel and concrete. Black and grey cubicles cover the expanse of my view. Machines clamor for attention as they beep and fans spin. A coldness exists among coworkers as they sullenly walk through the halls. Niceties feel as warm as the hand shake of a killer. We are machines in a dark cold world. Data rules and drives. Political manipulation hides behind closed doors waiting to expose itself as the latest management decision. We walk and work and wait for meager earnings to be deposited into our checking accounts. We are at work and work numbs the mind and destroys our senses. It kills dreams and extinguishes hope. It has the power to suck the life and extinguish the hope of its victims and leaves them powerless. Unable to create a new future. Unable to create art.
So what can we do?
I really do miss my library and I really am at work surrounded by data and spreadsheets. My heart yearns for the opportunity to go home and write and read and grow, but I am surrounded by a reality that does not promote my creative endeavors or support my art. We do not have to succumb to the temptation to put our projects and endeavors on hold. We can meet our goals for practicing our art and growing in our craft every day.
The first step is to have goals. Whatever your hobby, craft, art, or creative endeavor is set some goals for that. My goal is to write a post every day. On Friday’s I have a list of tasks that I need to do to improve my websites. This year I am creating additional writing goals including starting a book. Somehow I have to transition from spreadsheets, to work at home, and then to being creative all within a two hour period. Here are some ways to create an environment for yourself that will support your creative goals throughout the day and help you accomplish your goals each night.
1. Identify your theme and support it.
I have planned out what days I will write for what blog. On Tuesday and Sunday I write for this blog. I have a small spreadsheet/calendar page in my planner that I use to track the categories that I write about. This helps me to quickly figure out what category I should be writing about next. From that I can identify what post to write for that category. Once the category and post subject have been selected then I set that in my mind as my thinking subject for the day. When I get to work I get my idea notebook out and have it ready so I can write down any ideas that come to mind concerning my post. Having the notebook laying out reminds me of the goal I have set for that day and promotes thinking about that.
Train yourself to think about one subject throughout the day. Let your brain mull over ideas and possibilities. When you have a few minutes to think actively review your idea book and put together the ideas you have been generating all day. This will serve as a prep for what is to come later.
When I get to work I open up You Tube and find lectures, workshops, TED talks, or audio books that I can listen to while working, or on a break, that support the topic I am going to write about. If it’s a data entry day then I can get through listening to a few videos. At lunch I read, write, or listen to something that supports my theme for the day. On the way home I often listen to podcasts that are related to writing or any topic that I am concentrating on in my blogs. This feed of information propels me to get things done and prepares me to do it. At night I read books that are related to the topics I want to write about or that help me develop my craft. All of this creates an environment for success.
2. Surround yourself with the right people
You know there are a lot of great people in our lives and some not so great. There are some who thrive on new ideas and support them and some who can’t see beyond their own lives. I have one person whom I can share all my ideas and all my hopes for my writing. She is my creative coach. Most of the other people in my life I share very little with or not at all. If we share with the wrong people our ideas and projects will be shot down. The excuses for why it won’t work or why you shouldn’t do it will flow and you will wish you could crawl in a corner and hide. We need people, but let’s find the right ones. If we can’t find them then let’s read their books, blogs, or listen to their podcasts. Maybe they are at a local college class, in a local group, meet at the library, or in an online community. They are out there. So let’s find them.
3. Set a mood
We can pump ourselves up all day, but the minute we walk in the front door at home everything can change in an instant. Waiting for me is dinner, dishes, laundry, animals, picking up the house, anxiety, stress, and exhaustion. Boy I can’t wait to pick up that lap top I yearn for. So perhaps we can consider setting a calming mood with music. According to an article by Barry Goldstein, music stimulates emotion by uplifting the mood, creating peak emotions, emotional understanding, and helps us process fear, grief, sadness, and resentment. Music can improve our attention by activating our brain in the right ways. My son texted me today 15 minutes before I left work stating that he thinks he should quit college. I might need to listen to some music on the way home to ensure that the right mood is set to deal with my anxiety and be able to focus my attention on achieving tonight’s goals.
4. Read and continuous learning
Reading and continuous learning can feed our craft. Van Gogh was an avid reader. His father accused him of reading more than painting. Van Gogh read so that he could understand the human anatomy better and paint it better. If we are growing our craft and art will grow and we will have more to offer people. We can learn from reading, taking classes, going to seminars, getting someone to mentor us, experience new things, and encounter new people.
An article by John Coleman of the Harvard Business Review notes that “those who dedicate themselves to learning and who exhibit curiosity are almost always happier and more socially and professionally engaging than those who don’t”. Learning engages our mind and soul, can fuel our passion, and spark motivation to achieve goals. If you are learning about the thing you want to do you will be inspired to achieve great things.
Life is tough. It’s full of a lot of things we don’t want to do. We get so knee deep in our 9–5, our home, family, and responsibilities that doing anything after work is difficult. Days turn into months and months into years and before we know it a decade can go by where we keep saying, “One day I am going to write that book, start painting, get back into drawing, or whatever your thing is”. Even when we start doing that thing again it’s easy to get distracted. Set your goals, decide what your theme is for today, and then get busy creating a successful environment. These techniques have worked for me over and over again and I know they can work for you.
I just got my goal completed. Now it’s time to check the dryer. Have a good night or a really productive day.
Originally published at aprolificanthology.com on January 10, 2019.