I started thinking about my “go to” music playlist after reading an article on Seahawks.com. One of the newer members of the team, running back Freddy Jackson, offered up the five songs that get him pumped up for game time.
My early morning routine has been called into question several times, mostly by night owl friends. They can’t understand the compulsion to wake up bright and early to write, read or just fill my creative tank.
I get up early because no one else is up. I get up because no one is sending me emails or hijacking my agenda for their own needs. I get up because my muse works best when the world is asleep.
However, the real reason I get up early is because I suffer from creative guilt.
Writer’s block is when you sit down to put words on paper and can’t. Creative guilt is when you want to write, are writing in your head — but you can’t take the time to do it for you feel there has to be something more important, more worthwhile to do than write.
I will carve out time in the afternoon or a lazy Saturday only to choke when it comes down to actually writing. Thoughts fill my mind regarding the things I “should” be doing or that “need” to be done.
“Bathroom is a disaster.”
“I should spend time with the hubster.”
“The laundry needs to be done.”
This past week, I wanted to take a day to be creative. To write. To read. Fill my creative tank. I blocked out my Tuesday. On Monday afternoon, I received a request from a person to rent my vacation unit. The email in my inbox meant that I would not have a Tuesday to myself. In fact, it meant I was going to have to prep the suite for the arrival of my guest.
It was in my power to say no. It was up to me to protect my time. I did neither. Instead, I took the rental request and stayed up late Monday making the necessary arrangements to free up my Tuesday. In short, I felt I pulled overtime to show myself that I deserve a day to myself.
I have to reach some imaginary zone where I feel it is okay for me to have creative time. That I deserved it.
Would I feel different if there was a project deadline? If I was being paid for it? If it was being shown in a gallery? Or is this feeling strictly because the time, energy and end result is for me? As sad as it may seem, it is the last one.
Throw in the towel. Don’t write.
It’s not that easy to ignore the gnawing feeling that starts to eat your insides. Writing is how I explore my world, how I relate to new input. I start counting down the days since my last blog post or the last time I saved my novel. My fingers start aching, my thoughts consume me and I become irritable. I need to get back to what I love doing — what I value.
Hence the 4am wake-up call.
I think the bigger lesson here is that regardless of the worth the outside world can put on how I spend my time, I need to see the value in my creative time. I need to know that just writing words is how I soothe my soul, my inner muse. I need to protect the time that makes me sane.
I have to go. I have something to do. Something that has been put on the back burner. Something that needs to take front and center.
Chuck Blankman, author & speaker, shared a story about a man who shared his view about life’s built in problem. According to Blankman, the man said:
“‘When you’re young, you’ve got all the time and all the energy to enjoy life, but no money. When you’re in your middle years, you’ve got all the money and all the energy, but no time. And when you’re retired, you’ve got all the money and all the time, but no energy.’
“He then went on to say something very profound. ‘The key to a good life is to figure out how to have all three at once – you’ll make a lot bigger impact in the world around you if you can figure that one out.'”
Time, money and energy. Those are the three key ingredients that make the world go round. Where my view point differs from the man in Blankman’s quote is that I feel you can only have ONE at any given moment. Sure you may save money by taking the train cross country, but it will take a bit more time and deplete your energy.
The amount of time in any given day is the same for all of us. It’s the one resource that can’t be increased, added on or supplemented with a loan. To that end, it is the most valuable one. I believe there is no such thing as managing time — but you can manage your choices and how you spend your time.
Reaction Vs. Proactive
How does your day start? A mad dash from the starting gate alarm? Do you check your email the first thing in the morning? Do you reach for the phone when it dings, vibrates or the indicator light flashes?
The modern overflow of business into family life into personal time works hard to keep you distracted. Reacting to outside stimuli can consume your time and energy. It transfers someone else’s agenda, demands onto your plate (or smartphone). Once you are able to acknowledge where you are mortgaging your time, you can work towards making choices to eliminate the time-suck funnel.
In this situation, you are reacting to the news feeds, pushes, emails, texts and emergencies of others. Wait to check your email until you are at work. Let the phone call go to voice mail, that’s why it was created. Reclaim your time. Be proactive about your day, what it is you want to do and where you want to go.
Busy is Just a Four Letter Word
Executive coach Bryan Dodge has a quote that I absolutely love:
“If you’re not in a hurry, don’t act like you are.”
Ever run into a friend at the grocery store or a co-worker in the hall and respond to their inquiry about you with the “b” word? “Oh, just busy.”Today, that four letter word is more of a badge of honor than it should be. It’s easy to use the tick of the clock to hurry our footsteps to the next event, get together or “have to.”
Take a look at your calendar. For the next week, how many of the events are things you want to do? Do you block out family or friend time? Perhaps you should look at how your time is being divided and make some hard choices. Perhaps it is time to free up your schedule.
And, hopefully, the next time someone asks — you will be able to say that you are “loving life.”
Stop “Shoulding” and Start Acting
We all have dreams, aspirations and goals. Each of us has a passion or special gift only we can offer the world. Through self-reflection, curiousity and action are we able to recognize our gift. It is up to us to take the action to bring it into fruition. Often times, we get wrapped up in the “shoulds” of life:
- I should clean up the yard
- I should go to the PTA meeting
- I should’ve repainted the garage
“Should” and “should have” statements come from a place of judgement. It is placing a personal opinion or perceived public opinion on what should or shouldn’t have occurred. The comments are nothing more than barriers to prevent you from taking action.
By stepping away from this judgement stance, putting them in perspective, you can reclaim how you spend your time. You don’t have to clean the house before sitting down at the computer to start your memoirs. There are things we all have to do as part of daily life — but judgement and guilt aren’t one of those. Value your passions and make time for them
Although cliche, over-used and contrite, I really think Ferris Bueller had it right when he said:
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
How can you steal back some time, precious moments for yourself? Reclaim your time. It’s your most powerful resource.
“I have the feeling that I’ve seen everything, but failed to notice the elephants.” — Anton Chekhov
I live within the downtown core of Vancouver, BC. Like many other thriving metro centers, my senses are overwhelmed daily by the sights, sounds and smells that are a vital part to its energy.
City life is an adventure. I have enjoyed the crush of people that blend together into a city-defining blend of culture. I have long since gotten used to the unique odors that are produced from concentrated living spaces. I have adjusted to the constant white noise that is just the background soundtrack for my city lifestyle.
Along with the senses, there is a sense of urgency in daily life. From grocery shopping to returning last night’s video rental, one can literally feel the push of the city, urging one to go faster and achieve more. From vaccuming to gardening to commuting on the express bus to work, there is this unspoken message to go faster, achieve more and get more done.
The assault on the senses and this hidden, unexplained urgency can often lead one to feel overwhelmed or even drained. I was starting to feel trapped within myself, my immediate home environment and even the confines of the concrete skyscapers. I chalked it up to lack of vacation — or even lack of inspiration for creating.
Well, until I found myself during a coast trip.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.”
Habits, defined as an action one performs on a daily basis automatically without having to conscientiously think about it, are powerful things. They can turn actions into attitudes and attitudes into a lifestyle that is difficult to alter or give up. It becomes the norm. The standard. The ritual.
For the longest time, I regulated my writing time to “hobby” status. This means I was trying to fit it in when I had down time, after all the chores were done and felt I could take a few selfish moments to wax my creative side. But at the end of my day, I was pretty much done and looking for down time. I had very little creative spark to lit my fire to write — not even a shopping list.
“The great composer does not set to work because he is inspired, but becomes inspired because he is working.” — Ernest Newman
Like all passions, I began to feel the need to create but lacked the time to do it. Or so I thought. I took a hard look at my day and realized I was essentially wasting one of my greatest resources — my time. I found I was wasting productivity in a variety of ways, from scanning Facebook posts of the same meme to reading uninspiring celebrity gossip articles. Needless to say, I gave those up.
Then I started looking at how I mortgage my time. I have always been an early riser and actually function better before 9 a.m. than afterwards. According to an interview with Robin Sharma on the February 2013 Success Magazine CD, one must “take back their mornings and win the battle of the bed.” By this, he means get up an hour early and use that time to focus. Read the blogs, magazines or books that inspire you. Write for an hour or so.
Instead of staying up late and following the same routine of TV viewing, get a jump start on your day, tap into the creative side and hit the sheets a bit earlier. It really comes down to where you want to funnel your energy — watching tv or writing during prime time?
Since April, I have risen 90-minutes before everyone in the house. I use that time to read, listen to CDs and write. I feel more productive and like I have taken the reins to guide my passion — rather than just trying to fit it in. My alarm clock going off in the morning is actually something I look forward to every morning — including the weekends.
Aristotle once said that “We are what we repeatedly do.” Why not install a habit that transforms your life. Make practicing your passion and creativity a daily habit.
- Want A Personal Life? Get Up Early (ceo.com)
- Robin Sharma – 62 Tips to Get Unstuck in 2013 #goals #Motivation #speakers (jimwoodscoaching.wordpress.com)
- Why morning writing isn’t such a bad thing (quirkandquill.com)
- How To Consistently Wake Up Early – LifeTest #3 Results (cheerfulegg.com)
The idea for to create a blog that allows me to explore sources of my inspiration came to me while I was cycling 90+ RPMs at the gym.
I was panting, sweating and looking anything but refined when the band OK-Go’s song “Here It Goes Again” started playing on my iPOD. I wish I could go the hipster route and tell you that I’ve been a fan of the groups before they made it big. But the truth of it is, I heard the band originally from Chicago the first time while trying to master the previous mentioned song in Garage Band on the Wii.
It wasn’t until much, much later that I even saw their video for the song, even though I had seen many of the copycat versions. It is an elaborate dance performed on treadmills which was directed and choreographed by Trish Sie, who is also the sister of the groups front man Damian Kulash.
Within seven days of the July 31, 2006 release date, the video was viewed by over one million people on YouTube. The video took the Most Creative 2006 YouTube Award and on February 2007, OK Go and Trish Sie won a Grammy award for “Best Short-Form Music Video.”
The interesting thing about the group and its YouTube fame is that it was their solution to a conflict with their studio. According to The Art of Doing by husband and wife team Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield, OK Go felt that they needed to communicate with their fans in a new way. They didn’t want to use their record company’s outdated “mode of publicity, they decided to tell their story their own way.”
In “Fans, Friends and Followers” by Scott Kirsner , Damian Kulash state that the videos weren’t created with the intent to “”A-ha, this will get people to buy our records.’ It has always been our position that the reason you wind up in a rock band is you want to make stuff. You want to do creative things for a living.”
In 2010, and within a week after they released “This Too Shall Pass” via the Internet, the band parted ways with their record label, EMI. An article explained that “after long-running disputes over their video promotion (for instance, EMI stopped their “Here It Goes Again’ video from being embedded long after it became one of the most-watched videos in YouTube history), and other disputes with the label”, the band decided to form their own enterprise, a homemade upstart called Paracadute.
The group continues to create things, including videos, collaborative art projects, and even their own smartphone app.
So, why was I dwelling on this during my sweat session? Well, other than watching people running on the treadmills to the song playing on my iPod, three items popped into my head:
1) Find creative inspiration around you by finding new ways to shape your story.
2) Creativity is pulled from various sources and it’s not always the tried and true practices that work.
3) Perhaps I just need a place to pull in all my inspirations and write about them rather than just kicking them around in my head.
And that is exactly how this was developed. It is a way to actively seek and write about the little sparks of creativity, passion but also mish mash some of my thoughts, readings and studies.
- Behind OK Go’s New Word-Focused App And Its Label-less Model For Success (fastcocreate.com)