Nurturing Creativity: Mastering the Long-Game Process When Time is Short

Wanting to make things but not having enough time can feel really tough. It's not just us who feel this way, our loved ones notice it too. When we have to split our attention between relationships, a job that might not be very exciting, and other life responsibilities, it can get overwhelming. But are we stuck like this forever? Is there any way to make things easier and let our creativity flow?

One thing is clear: we can't magically create more time. It's frustrating to have creative ideas but not enough time to work on them. So, what can we do? Well, instead of focusing on making more time, we can focus on things we can control.

When I had little time to write, I had to consider how I could make the most of it. I asked myself: How can I use the limited time I have to create something valuable? This wasn't a simple question to answer. First, I had to figure out what was valuable to me as a writer. I wanted to write great songs that would connect with lots of music lovers. I also wanted to grow my network in the music industry and have opportunities that brought me joy. But these goals were a bit vague, and they focused more on what I wanted to "be" rather than the steps I could take every day to feel good about my progress. I needed a process that would make me happy right now, in the present moment.

So, I took a good look at how I wrote. It was tough and felt like a struggle. I would spend hours stuck on an idea, trying to fit other ideas around it. I'd get really into a song, even if it wasn't working well. This made me wonder why I even wanted to write songs sometimes. That's when I realized I had to change how I did things if I wanted to keep writing. I accepted my situation and worked with it, not against it. Here are four things I focused on to make my process better:

4 Ways to Increase Creativity

step 1

Write for 20 Minutes

Instead of spending hours on a song, I started with just 20 minutes. I used that time to follow my first thoughts about an idea. I did a lot of free-writing and jotting down ideas, sometimes while walking around and talking into my phone. And I didn't just see this as journaling, I used these ideas to come up with song lyrics. Some days, I even found titles and parts of verses and choruses. Other days, these ideas helped me start something bigger. But the key was to let the first 20 minutes set the direction of the song. Then, the most important part: I stopped. I gave myself permission to do something else after 20 minutes. I acted as if I had a ton of musical ideas, so I didn't need to rush.

step 2

Focus on Enjoyment

 I changed how I judged my ideas. Instead of worrying if they made me look like a good writer, I focused on how much I enjoyed them. In the past, I thought quality meant being clever or skilled. But now, I realized it was more about enjoying the process. I wrote in short bursts, creating melodies and grooves. I would sing random lines and see if they could be the real lyrics. A lot of times, they could work as lyrics, as long as I didn't overthink them. I wasn't controlled by my ideas anymore – I was just a channel for ideas to flow through.

step 3

Trust the Process

 I learned to let go and change direction if something wasn't working. If I didn't like what I wrote after 20 minutes, that was fine. I had plenty of other ideas to work on. I only finished the ones that excited me day after day. If an idea faded away, that was okay too. I started believing that I didn't need to rush.

step 4

Collaborate and Take Action.

 I figured out what was stopping me from finishing songs and projects. Could I get help with certain parts of the process? Maybe I could work with someone who's great at playing instruments. Or find a collaborator who has a studio. What about writing with someone who's good at a genre I like? Instead of getting stuck, I acted on these ideas. I took inspiration from business and ran with what I was good at, involving others where I needed help. And it worked! I became more productive, had more fun, and got closer to my long-term goals. Being busy actually improved my creative process.

I used to write whenever I felt like it, for hours at a time. Now, I sometimes only have 30 minutes four times a day. I don't obsessively rewrite lines anymore because I can't! There's just not enough time. I have about five song ideas going on at once. When I lose interest in one, I don't stress. I simply switch to another song and make a little progress there. I'm more objective now because I haven't spent ages trying to make everything perfect. It's okay to have lines that aren't super special. And guess what? Listeners are still interested! 

Spending a lot of time making things perfect didn't give me much in return. I didn't need more time. I needed a process that worked for me in the life I had. It turns out, real life led me to a creative process that makes my real life better.


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