I know that many people probably perceive focusing on managing time as very noncreative. What about art? What about literature and music and those fields that are, I think, rather stereotypically considered creative? Shouldn't we be focusing on something like that?
I have a very practical attitude toward creativity. Creativity is simply the act of making something that did not exist before. Whether we're talking painting a landscape or baking a cake or writing a novel or building a house, we are talking creativity. Making something that did not exist before takes time. Big, big connection between time and creativity, in my humble opinion.
Manage Your Day-to-Day 's section on creativity includes an essay by Todd Henry called Creating for You, and You Alone. Now, remember, Manage Your Day-to-Day doesn't deal specifically with writers or artists but with all types of "creatives," people who need to come up with something that didn't exist before as part of their work This particular essay deals with people who work creatively in their jobs, but need to stay on a particular creative task. Exercising other aspects of their creativity is difficult for them, though doing so might be good for their day job, in addition to anything else they want to do with their lives.
Why am I interested in this essay when I write here for writers who presumably create for themselves all the time? Well, actually, we don't. Many writers have traditional day jobs that require creativity of them quite apart from the creative work they want to do for publication. Creating for themselves has to happen in addition to that. I also know writers who do work-for-hire, writing specific nonfiction books, for instance, for a particular publisher or writing volumes for series fiction. Earlier this year I met an illustrator who had "auditioned" for and won a rather nice assignment illustrating some children's books for a known cable chef. She expects to be tied up with that job for two years. For many working writers and illustrators, this really is an issue.
Todd writes about what he calls "Unnecessary Creation," which he believes "is essential for anyone who works with his or her mind." He's talking about creative acts--making something, anything, that didn't exist before--that are unrelated to an individual's work. "...something about engaging in the creative act on our own terms seems to unleash latent passions and insights." In other words, creativity spurs creativity.
He suggests creating a list of creative projects to work on in spare time, (I know. What's that?) then setting aside a specific time each week or day (Hell, I'd be happy with time each month) to make progress on it. The point of Unnecessary Creation is that any kind of creativity has value. For those writers I know who are trying to get to other types of creative work, that might be what goes into their spare time set asides. Or maybe not. Maybe simply engaging in any creative act will unleash the insights they need to get to the Unnecessary Creation they really want to move on. Creativity encourages creativity.
In the month or two since I read Todd's essay, I've been posting pictures of my Unnecessary Creations at my personal Facebook page.