As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, this year is all about trying new things for me. From submitting to contests and magazines to trying different kinds of writing I’m attempting to push myself into growth. I truly want to understand not just what makes good writing, but how to construct a story. One of the things I’ve discovered is that forcing boundaries onto a work can actually improve the work itself. From outlawing specific words (swear words, oh how I miss you!) in some pieces to declaring that certain elements must be included (there has to be a dog, OK?) by working against/with a constraint it forces creativity. But one boundary that I consistently seem to be rubbing up against these days is time—I don’t have enough. Particularly since the birth of my daughter, the effort to carve out extended periods of time to be creative is monumental.
I have managed in some cases to do this by ignoring other areas of my life (Dishes? What dirty dishes?) or through the understanding of my husband who swoops in and carts our kid off while I’m furiously typing up some scene or another. But on many days, there is no “vast, unbroken slab of time.” Which is why I found this article about What You Can Achieve in 15-Minute Bursts of Creativityto be an interesting articulation about the approach I’ve developed. Working on a project in smaller chunks does allow the project to always stay fresh in my mind and churning away in my subconscious. It also forces me to stop waiting for the perfect time to think or do something. I had not realized that the “perfect time” was such an illusion or that I clung to the illusion so much until I switched to a “do it now” approach. The accumulation of tiny chunks of time allows for a productivity that would have seemed impossible to me before the process was forced on me. This bit by bit approach does work. It may be a constraint I didn’t want, but like many of the other boundaries, it has forced me to come up with creative solutions that I might not have otherwise discovered.
So if you’re out there despairing of finding the few hours you want to do something – don’t give up. Take your fifteen minutes and do the thing (whatever the thing is) now. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can undo half of it tomorrow if you like, but it’s still more than you had before.