If you’ve never heard of Steven Pressfield or Shawn Coyne, you’re missing out on some amazing lessons. Pressfield wrote The War of Art (edited by Coyne) and they often blog about creativity.
The part that resonated with me the most:
Time is the raw material of creation.
Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating.
Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation.
The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.
Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.
We are not taught to say “no.” We are taught not to say “no.” “No” is rude. “No” is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. “No” is for drugs and strangers with candy.
Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview, this letter, this trip to the movies, this dinner with friends, this party, this last day of summer. How much less will I create unless I say “no?” A sketch? A stanza? A paragraph? An experiment? Twenty lines of code?
The answer is always the same: “yes” makes less.
We do not have enough time as it is. There are groceries to buy, gas tanks to fill, families to love and day jobs to do.
Amen! And now I have a new motto.
Are you a “YES” person, a “NO” person or somewhere in between? What helps you guard your creative time? Do you have any time management secrets to share?? It’s Thoughty Thursday, and enquiring minds love to discuss these things here at More Cowbell!
Note: Laura Drake shared her #1 Reason To Keep Writing over at Writers In The Storm yesterday. Great post!