Creative people are wired differently. They’re often described as quirky or weird, and while that can hold true, it’s not completely universal. There are a lot of creative people out there that aren’t comfortable labeling themselves, but it’s pretty easy to tell by how someone uses their idle time. Does the slightest twinge of boredom send you fleeing to your phone in search of entertainment and instant gratification? Sure, sometimes that happens to us all. But can it also spark your imagination? And if that feeling is something you enjoy, but you’re not doing it as often as you’d like, recognize that and make it a priority.
It’s not easy. There are so many distractions and endless opportunities to consume music, tv, or socialize, but I know that when a creative person consistently puts consumption first, they are rejecting who they are. If you recognize yourself as a creative, start acknowledging that time for these pursuits is a basic need for you just like food, shelter, and sex — even if it’s a little bit lower on Mr. Maslow’s hierarchy. Time for creating is something you might need for your mental health, so don’t ignore it.
For me, it’s a simple litmus test. If I allow myself an hour a day to create, how does it make me feel? Regardless of whether anyone sees what I’m making or whether anyone likes it, it brings me joy. So I know it’s time well spent.
Not everyone in your life will understand this. Some of my friends think it’s really strange I’d rather spend a Friday night with a notebook or a Sunday wandering down streets I’ve never been before. But give yourself permission to do you. Don’t be influenced by what most people think you should be doing. Make time for yourself because no one else can do that for you. Giving yourself an opportunity to be creative is the only way you ever will be.
If you have to block out a time for yourself to work on what you love, do it. If you pour 100% of your focus into it, it may take much less time than you thought. And even if it does take forever, it’s still worth it. Forget about other obligations or what would be a more “productive” use of time. Often, doing what you love is the most productive thing ever. Sometimes you gotta work on projects for no other reason than that they make you smile. It just might be a crucial part of your happiness.