Note from Pip: For an extra special treat, my friend, author Allison Tait, has agreed to share some of her brilliant wisdom with us, right here, right now. Sha-zam!
Admittedly I did twist her arm behind her back whilst singing my own special version of Kanye West’s Touch The Sky until she said something that sounded like ‘Yasssss, now bugger offfff!’ but I think it was well worth it.
Allison is the author of a number of bestselling books and a bit of an all ’round ginger genius. I’ll hand you over to her now, but not before I say… there’s an Al-themed giveaway at the end of this post!
Touch the sky, errrrryone. Here’s Al…
The 5 Secrets Of Being Creative When You Have No Time
By Allison Tait
As an author, I meet a lot of aspiring writers at festivals and conferences, in classes and, most regularly, at barbecues. The one question that most of them will ask me: “Allison, how do you find the time to write?”
My answer: “I don’t find the time, I make the time.”
This is, I concede, easier now that my fifth novel for children has just been published and my fiction writing has earned its place as the centre of my working day. But it hasn’t always been this way.
When I started writing fiction in earnest, I had a small baby and a fulltime freelance writing career that I managed to squeeze in to two naps and four hourly feeds. Over the years, I added another baby and some creative-writing teaching and kept the freelance writing career.
My boys are now 13 and 10, I still freelance (though less) and teach, but now I also write 55,000 word epic adventure stories for kids and do all the speaking and other promotional activities that go with that.
Life is always going to be busy, in one way or another. If I’d waited for the perfect time to start writing my first novel, chances are I’d still be waiting – and I think that applies to any form of creativity you can think of.
So, how can we find time to nurture our creativity and fit it into daily lives? These are my five secrets.
- Routine is everything.
‘Routine’ is about the most unsexy word in the dictionary – right up there beside ‘discipline’. And while neither of these things seem to have any place in an artistic life, the truth is that they are the cornerstone of fulfilling any creative dream.
The best way to create is to schedule it in to your day. Work out the best time for you – morning, late at night, lunchtimes, whenever – and make yourself a ‘creative habit’.
There is this idea, I think, that artists, writers, songwriters and the like must waft about until inspiration strikes them from above. The truth is that inspiration happens because you’re already there, in place, waiting to grab it with both hands.
- Use the stolen moments.
If you’re looking at your day and thinking ‘there’s no more room on the timetable’, have a look at the stolen moments. Do you commute on the train each day? Children’s author Sue Whiting wrote entire novels that way. Do your kids have swimming lessons/soccer training/ [insert activity of choice] each week? I often write on my iPad while the kids get fit.
I get that there are some creative pursuits that can’t be undertaken on the train. But you can sketch, plan, think see below). So that when you next get back to your project, you’ll waste no time at all wondering where to begin.
- Thinking time is doing time.
Queen of crime writers Agatha Christie is quoted as saying: “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”
So much of my writing is done in my head, far from my computer or even a pen. I work through plot points while I walk the dog, weed the garden, hang out the clothes, drive the car… well, not so much drive the car, as I do like to be present for that.
But with writing, you can tuck your story away into your subconscious while your body gets on with whatever mindless, repetitive task is on the agenda.
Then you’re ready to go when your stolen moment arrives.
- Yes, it’s inconvenient – do it anyway.
Pursuing any form of creativity feels like such a selfish act. It requires time away from family, friends, work – even if that time is only 30 minutes with your study door shut. I think it’s important to accept that, yes, creativity is inconvenient. And then do it anyway.
In my case, with a young family, I chose a time that inconvenienced nobody but me – usually 10pm and midnight – and got in and wrote my novels, secure in the knowledge that nothing and nobody else was missing out.
- Start anyway.
One of the quotes I like to use in every ‘make time to write’ workshop I ever give, is this one: “A year from now you will wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb
Start now. You’ll be glad you did.
Allison Tait is also known as A.L. Tait, the internationally-published bestselling author of middle-grade adventure series The Mapmaker Chronicles. Her latest novel, and the first in her new Ateban Cipher series, is called The Book Of Secrets and it’s out now!
Visit Allison’s website for lots of tips about writing (and sometimes just lots of writing!)
Would you like to win a signed copy of Allison’s latest novel, The Book Of Secrets? Well you CAN! Not only is Al going to sign it, she’s going to impart it with her best creative juju and send it on to you.
To (maybe, hopefully) win you need to do these things:
- Comment below telling us your best excuse for not being creative.
- Have an Australian postal address.
- That’s it. So easy, non?
Al’s favourite answer will win. Giveaway closes NEXT Thursday at 11pm. Winner will be contacted by email.
Thank you for
taking over my blog writing this guest post, Al!