Do you have to be selfish to be creative? Does creativity make you selfish?
Picture these two scenarios.
Your friends want you to go out tonight, but you want to go home and spend another hour on your painting. They say you are a spoil sport but you just want to get home and paint because you were out at a work function last night so you have some catching up to do. You stick to your guns and go home but you wonder if you are being selfish. After all, it is important to keep up relationships with friends.
Your family want to spend time with you after dinner watching television or a DVD, but you want to go to the other room and do your piano practice. If you miss practising for one day it makes your fingers go stiff. They don’t appreciate this. You know you need to do it and playing the piano makes you feel better. You disappear off and get into your scales and arpeggios but you can’t help wondering if you are being a little bit selfish.
So does creativity make you selfish?
Both yes and no are the answer to this. Yes, you do need to be consistent with your creative activities. You need to take the time to regularly work on your craft. This takes discipline. In saying “yes” to spending time to write, making things or practising a musical instrument, you will be saying “no” to other things and other people.
Sometimes those other people will be fed up or even hurt that you are not choosing them. Sometimes you might end up neglecting activities that you ought to keep up with. For me, working on my writing tends to rate above things like personal filing or doing my taxes, so every now and then I have to do a huge catch up on those necessary activities.
But if you don’t scratch that creative itch
On the other hand, if you don’t take time to scratch your creative itches then you will probably be irritable, depressed and thoroughly unpleasant to be around. What use is that to anyone?
A couple of years ago my husband was unemployed for a while and it drove me nuts having him around the house all the time. On the days that I wasn’t at my day job I was used to being on my own, gently percolating my creative thoughts and then taking action on them. Having him around drove me crazy and it impacted on my writing. I felt that my ideas were drying up and I had nothing to say.
After a lot of frustration I realised that I just had to ‘take’ my creative time, no matter what was going on around me. Initially it caused tension between us as I fought to stay in my creative headspace and not have conversations about what we should have for tea or other mundane matters. It did feel selfish to avoid him for chunks of the day but I knew that I simply had to take that time as I needed it for my own sanity.
At the moment I have more demands on my time as my parents are getting older. For the past few months I have spent the first hour of my day on my writing. It feels so good to spend that time in my study doing morning pages and then drafting a blog or doing something else towards my Gentle Warrior project.
After that hour I am free to do whatever the day requires of me with a good, satisfied nature. This may be my day job, visiting my parents or spending time with my husband. And sometimes I get to spend another few hours creating.
Make compromises but keep creating
In order to keep a creative routine you might need to cut a deal with your friends or family.
- Maybe you make sure you see your closest friends once a week but spend the rest of your free time working on your creative project.
- Maybe your family agree to let you have an hour a day uninterrupted piano practice time but then you agree to do an activity with your children afterwards.
- Maybe you enlist the help of your children to encourage you to go to bed earlier so that you can get up before work and spend an hour on your writing.
- Maybe you agree with your other half that you get to spend half a day at the weekend on your creative project and that time is sacred to you.
The world needs what only you can provide
You are channelling your emotions and life experience into a piece of art, and who ever experiences that art will have it wake up their emotions. This could be healing and life changing for them. Don’t deprive us of this.
Even if your creations aren’t out there in the public domain, the world needs you at your best – all itches scratched! What could be selfish about that?
Now I’d love to hear from you
What are your feelings on your creativity? What are your thoughts and challenges about taking the time that you need to be creative? What would happen if you didn’t take that time?
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I think it so important to make sure you have your creative time and now i prioritize it. i found family seem to ask more and more of you if you do not set your boundaries as they dont see it like you are going into a 9-5 job so you can drop things. xx
So true Liane. I found that as I got more serious about my writing then people stopped asking me to do stuff because I wasn’t “at work” that day.
I don’t “work” but my disability is a day job in itself,I have eds and my joints dislocate amongst other issues,but my point is my time gets eaten up waiting for carers, chasing them up if they don’t turn up on time, medication every 4 hours all day and night, the effects of medication like dizziness drowsy sickness, every aid I use needs mainatence which takes time, medical appointments. Anyway what my point is a lot of my time gets wasted 5 mins here 10mins there all adds up and I’ve tried to be creative while waiting but I really can’t concentrate on what I want to do because I know something is imminent .so for me to get my creative time is difficult it usually happens just after the medication effects have worn off then it’s like ready, steady , go! Then I get/steal 2 hours usually in the evening. Of course my husband moans and says I should be doing “wifely duties ” to which he gets a polite F off and do it your F’in self . So I carry on with my 2 hours off creating but it takes me a few minutes to really get
Stuck in. I don’t know a about you but this has to be uninterrupted time for it to count as my time
Hi Dani. Thanks for your comment. Uninterrupted creative time is lovely if it works out that way. But sometimes I can go through a phase where there just isn’t time and that is when I try and do a small thing. It doesn’t feel like I’m losing my creative rhythm if I can keep a hand in no matter how small