Artists should not have children

Artists should not have children
Artists should not have children
"When I lecture, I make a joke about artists not having children. One only has so many hours in a lifetime."

Judy Wise, in Creative Time and Space, by Rice Freeman-Zachary

But in case you, like me, already have children and wouldn't have it any other way, even if you could, here are a few tips that I can offer you from my own life as a stay-at-home parent/artist with no space to call my own. And no time, for that matter...

I create a rhythm in my life, not a schedule. That way, my day is structured within a flexible framework that takes into account children, house, pets, partner and, of course, my art.

I do my art amidst the chaos - I work in the living room - amidst the children, the toys, the guinea pigs, the IPAD's, the dog and the cat. This works well - most of the time - for two reasons: Firstly, because as soon as you're seen to go off and do something for yourself, by yourself, the children immediately want to follow. So best just do it naturally, right under their noses, where they can see there's nothing terribly exciting about sitting by a computer and pounding away at the keys.  Secondly, because I want to set the example of the importance of making time for what you love, and also of the importance of Art in all its expressions, I choose to let them see me write in my journal, argue with Grammarly about being right, edit my articles, draw my illustrations and play with my watercolours. I can't set those examples from behind closed doors.

(The family is, by default, also privy to the other side of creation, the side where things are not so pretty. The rejections, the unsubscribes, the watercolour that doesn't look anything like it was supposed to... that sort of thing.)

I cook easy, healthy meals. If it can't be cooked in half an hour, I'm not interested. I don't cook in the microwave, and I don't buy precooked television food either. Fresh, healthy and organic where possible, but under half an hour. If it must take longer, it must do so by itself, like in a slow cooker or in the oven. That frees up a little more time to do my art. (Unless cooking is your art, of course, then, by all means, spend as long as you like in the kitchen.)

I always have a notebook and pencil with me to write or draw at unexpected moments that offer themselves.

I get up at least two hours earlier than everyone else. That gives me time to do my art, or to think, or to read or whatever I need to do to fill my creative cup for the day. No, it's not nearly enough time, but there is never "enough" time for art, so any extra time we can carve out is good.

I know where my Muses of Creativity hang out - so when I go there, I go prepared. Mine like to come out and play in the shower, for instance, and I have an Aquanote book and pencil that live in the shower so that I can take lots of divine dictation while rinsing my shampoo. Find out where your Muses like to play, and meet them at their playground prepared. Is it in the early morning hours, when you just wake up? Then keep a notebook next to the bed. Do they hang out at the beach? Keep your notebook in your beach bag. Meeting them at the gym, on the treadmill? Keep a voice note recorder or small notebook in your gym bag.

I've learnt to see the obstacles as the journey. Would I create more art if I had all day to myself? Probably not. I would procrastinate more, read more, perhaps create a little more, yes, but not much.

And where would all my inspiration come from if I didn't have the daily grind to attend to? Inspiration comes from real life - not from seclusion and isolation.

If you’d like to know more about how to develop your intuition as a writer, then check out my new course on Skillshare. It’s called “Intuitive Development for Writers” and in it, I share my four favourite ways to harness my intuition on a daily basis as a writer. Simply click here.

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