Creativity Procrastination- Follow the Calls to Create Instead

Art by Robin Eisenberg

“When the muse comes to your bedside, do not tell her you’ll fuck her later.” -Allen Ginsberg

When those little voices inside tell you to make something, create something, take a class, go somewhere new, do a little dance, make a little love, it’s so easy to shun them away in favor of your to-do list or Instagram. What might happen, though, if you followed those little calls instead?

Creating does not have to be an artist walking up to her easel. Creating can be the way you express your body in a sport or movement. It can be making home movies, homemade soaps, or your own business. It can be a sandcastle that gets washed away with the tides, or a garden that provides food for your family, or bouquets for your coffee table.

Sometimes, we create experiences. When we follow the inklings to travel, to pull off down a road we’ve never been on, or email a friend we haven’t spoken to in years, we are creating.

Make it a habit to follow those calls more often than you push them away.

Cook up something weird and delicious sounding your brain thought might be a good idea. Go on your favorite hike. Create a little doodle while you’re on the phone, or to get some paint pens and make a wild tank top. Follow the call to make your own prayer flags and hang them in your garden, or to buy some beads at that bead store you’ve never been in and make friendship bracelets. It’s the calls to buy plants and green up your house, or hand paint the pots you plant them in. Follow the call to put together a wild outfit or make up a song that makes you laugh.

Oftentimes, when we feel these calls, our to-do lists suddenly become more pronounced. Before we sit down to create, we have to prep coffee for tomorrow, clean up the bathroom, or make overnight oats. We sit down to create but first we have to Google that one musicians birthday to find out their astrological sign before we forget. We sit down to create and we have to text our sibling or refresh Instagram one more time.

The reason we do this is because most of us haven’t prioritized our creativity, so it is not a habit. The second reason is that creativity is uncertain and maybe a little scary. We never know exactly the outcome of what we are about to create, if it will measure up to our expectations and vision, or how it might be received in the world. Uncertainty can be scary, as we tend to flock to the familiar even if it’s boring, painful, or unfulfilling.

We often put so much pressure on creativity- like there’s no point in doing it if it’s not three-easy-steps to a masterpiece. We’ve become accustomed to instant gratification in so many facets of our lives- from getting food at the press of a button to finding a date with the swipe of our finger.

Sometimes, we don’t even try to create because we fear sucking. Sure, it feels nice to look back on your work and think, hella good job, sis, but what if the point was the fun in it, or the experience? What if you stopped trying to make your work mean something heavy and just allowed it to be fun and feel good? What if creativity was just a part of your self care routine?

Creativity is healing. It’s real live alchemy. It helps you know yourself better, develop patience, take risks, to be resourceful and to make something out of nothing. Creativity will heal you. It’s literally a way to show the world your soul and we need more of that. Please help contribute.

What if you decided it was important enough to your well-being, to who you are to pencil creativity in to your weekly schedule?

That’s not to say you shouldn’t create with a goal in mind, but if it feels like work, if it feels like drudgery, it if feels like you’re having to pull it out of you with all your might instead of it flowing easily, maybe it’s not your thing. Maybe you haven’t found your thing. The simple act of trying to find it will lead you there eventually.

Maybe in your heart of hearts you already know what comes to you easily and pleasurably. Maybe you are a sand castle genius, or a roller skate disco dancer. Maybe you can make flower crowns like no ones business, but you are forcing yourself to write depressing short stories instead.

Maybe you could hole up and paint all day, but you really want your pottery to side hustle to take off, even though you don’t enjoy it nearly as much.

Allow yourself to do what feels fun, easy, and joyful. Prioritize it. There is no harm in it. The world needs lightness, joy, humor, fun, silliness. You art doesn’t have to be serious and heavy to be worthy of your time or anyone else’s.

Let go of creating for the sake of completion or perfection. Create to have fun. Create because you can. Create because you are an alchemist and if you don’t create you deny yourself a super power.

Imagine if you had no goal in mind other than to do what comes to you. Imagine if you let go of all pressure to make your work mean something or be something or look or sound a certain way or be received in a certain way. Imagine if the number of likes you got from it didn’t matter, imagine if you didn’t care about making any money. Imagine if how it turned out didn’t matter. Now, act as if. Soon, you will believe it and maybe your house will turn into a real live gallery!

The truth is, it doesn’t matter how it turns out. All the art and music and movies and books you love didn’t come about in one fell swoop. The makers made lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of crap before they became refined enough and hit that note that rocketed them to number one hits and best sellers, etc.

Don’t create for fame or fortune or money. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t desire exposure or money for your work. It’s just to say that A) the money will never come if you only create for the sake of money and B) Create to express your magic.

Prioritizing your creativity can be a challenge if you’ve spent years procrastinating and denying yourself. It will also be harder to get into if your skills are rusty, as you may become frustrated with yourself when you can’t play or sing or draw like you used it. It will come back with time. You can still enjoy doing it.

Creating new habits are hard, so give yourself time. Keep trying. If you forgo your art supplies for your Netflix queue, just keeping trying. Keep making doodles, sketches, ditties, dance moves, melodies, combining new flavors in your coffee or snacks. Express it in the way you dress. Keep trying.

Five minutes is always better than no minutes. Just pick up the sketchbook and jot down ideas when you have them, make little doodles while you’re talking on the phone. Open up your laptop and type or revise a paragraph or two. It’s momentum. Create momentum in the direction of creating. It does not have to be done all at once or in sleepless nights.

Just start. It sounds simple, but this is the hardest part. Once you tune your guitar, or get your paintbrushes out, or open your laptop, or your sketchbook, or whatever it is that you do, just start. Sit with it. Let go of expectations of what it should be and just let it come out.

When you follow the call to create, allow yourself to suck. Don’t necessarily expect it, but accept it. Chip away.

Everything that was ever created was done so through a series of tiny little steps. Take tiny little steps often and they become big steps. You’re going to have to pass the time somehow.

Be lighthearted, laugh at yourself. Try to find some humor in life and creativity and get into a healthy competition with yourself.

Recognize how you feel before, during and after, and adjust accordingly. If your work makes you feel like shit, it ain’t your work.

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