How the hell do I find time to be creative?!

Today, I was going to write a review on Junkyard, a play I watched about a week ago at the Bristol Old Vic written by the one and only Jack Thorne (writer of Cursed Child). Junkyard follows the journey of a group of “at risk” kids who lived in Lockleaze back in the 70’s and created an epic playground out of junk.

The reason why I’m not writing this review is because time is precious and the main thing I want to say about it is that it’s quintessentially Bristolian, the songs are excellent and the delivery, lively. However, it could do with less spoon-feeding in regards to the underlying issues of each child; they are already wonderfully built up characters, no need to make the audience feel stupid.

See, I pretty much summed up my feelings about that in a short paragraph. Here’s what I really want to talk about: Time.

As a creative person, I start to feel restless if I haven’t been doing the thing I love for a while. Currently, it’s playwriting. I feel like I’m constantly grappling around trying to find the time to write my play, which I’ve previously mentioned in another blog post. The thing is, working full time not only takes up most of your time, but it can zap every last creative cell from your body.

What do you want to do as soon as you get home from a long day at work? Nine times out of ten it’s going to be “watching telly”, or “playing video games” or “whacking something in the oven and going to bed” – you don’t really want to look at a blank screen praying for inspiration (especially if you’ve already spent the whole day in an office looking at a screen).

But what about the weekends? Well, we cherish those, right? And most of the time our weekends are booked up from the beginning of the month; whether that’s seeing friends, visiting family or having some much deserved ‘me’ time, it’s difficult to fit in being creative.

Or is it?

Recently, I’ve found the act of being creative, even when I don’t feel like it, very fulfilling. Today for example, I finished off a scene and discovered I have about 50 minutes of my play written (YAY!). Now, I know this probably isn’t too impressive to those out there who are seasoned playwrights – I’ve been working on this play for months and months and months – but for me, as a 9-5:30er, this is a massive achievement.

If I find a day or an evening free in my schedule I try not to waste it; however tempting it is to just lie on my bed eating Pringles and watching Fresh Prince, I know that won’t satisfy me in the long run. Finishing a scene I feel proud of? Well, that’s priceless.

Now, I know I’m no creative Guru by any stretch, but here are some tips of my own mixed with ones I found online to help anyone who wants to unleash their creative unicorns:

  1. Get together one evening a week with like-minded friends – Every Tuesday evening I meet up with a group of my creative buddies at Boston Tea Party and we write, discuss ideas and just generally enjoy each others company. It’s so important to set aside some time a week to do what you love, and doing it with other people can really help keep you motivated, (and you can get some honest feedback on your work too!).

  2. Set yourself mini deadlines – Without uni forcing deadlines upon you, it’s difficult to keep yourself motivated to get a project done in a respectable amount of time. Now, I really need to practice what I preach here (I’ve spent far too long on the play I’m currently writing) However, I’ve now told myself to have some sort of first draft finished by 5th April. Eek! Pray for me.

  3. Carry a notebook around with you – It’s surprising what can come to mind when you’re wandering around town in your lunch break, or when your boss is giving you jip.

  4. Keep reading/going to the theatre/watching documentaries, etc – This is so important. It can be easy to get caught up in your own little creative bubble, that you end up getting lost and losing inspiration. Keep the fire alive; find a play or novel that tackles similar issues to yours, visit the theatre to get some ideas on stage direction, language and set, or watch a documentary for research and get a real-life angle on what you’re writing about.

Finding time to be creative is a challenge as a full-timer, I’m not saying it’s easy. However, taking tiny steps can really help you towards your goal – you can do it!

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