Now more than ever, creativity is at a premium. But how do you keep up with all of the day-to-day work you have and still find time to be creative? Often it seems impossible to do both.
According to Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, you do have time to be creative, but you're most likely squandering it. The conventional wisdom about creativity is actually misleading, she says in a Q&A with Harvard Business Review. There's no need to cultivate an intense passion or spend time locked away in a cabin in the woods to get the juices flowing.
Below, check out the highlights of Gilbert's interview to get tips on ensuring you have time to be creative.
Focus on curiosity, not passion
If you're feeling as if you're stuck in a creative rut, Gilbert says, it's often accompanied by a sense that you've lost your passion. "The trick to reigniting that spark is to let go of the idea of passion and to focus instead on the idea of curiosity," she tells HBR. Curiosity is an easier thing to indulge. Pursuing subjects you're curious about "doesn't have to make you shave your head and change your name and quit your job; it's more like a scavenger hunt, where you're looking for tiny seeds," she says. If you set aside time to dive into those subjects, you'll find the creative spark sooner than you think.
Have it both ways
We all have those dreams about quitting our day job and focusing on our passion. But life rarely works that way. Gilbert says you have to learn how to be creative and work and make money at the same time. Handling mundane responsibilities like bills is necessary, but "that doesn't mean that you shouldn't have any creative aspect to your life whatsoever. Set your alarm a half hour early every day and work on that book or that new business idea," she writes.
Make creativity an everyday thing
Gilbert further says that you can make time to be creative, but it involves sacrificing--skipping that party this weekend, not watching your favorite shows on Sunday nights, or waking up early to do things before work. "An hour a day is an enormous amount of time," she says. "Imagine if you studied French for an hour a day--how much better would you be at speaking French? These small steps every single day are critical."
Take advice from Einstein
If you're stuck in a creative rut it might help if you take a page from Albert Einstein, Gilbert says. The famed scientist practiced what he called "combinatory play"--he'd play the violin if he got stuck on a math problem. He believed this type of stimulation would open up different channels in the mind, enabling him to tap creativity. "Have you ever noticed how ideas come to you when you're driving, or when you're in the shower? It's because you're relaxed, and your mind is freed up to let ideas come in," Gilbert says. "Combinatory play can be anything--a pickup basketball game, baking something, making pottery, or just doodling or going for a walk."