Making Art: On Stolen Time

canvasses
These canvasses were prepped in 5-10 minute chunks of time that I found during the kid’s naps, after their bedtime, and while I was waiting for my computer to update itself. Now they are ready when it is time for the actual work of painting.

Stolen Time is probably the only way to get stuff done if you are busy – busy at work, living a full family life, busy with a million hobbies. Because that is how we do.

Stealing time has been my only strategy to get creative work done. It forces me to be efficient, to spend time on the projects that matter to my heart and soul, and to focus on doing things that I truly, desperately want to do.

Here is how I do it:

  •  I check blog data and share promo stuff when I get into the car, before I put on a Podcast for the drive to/from work. This takes me about 2 minutes and then it’s done. I also do this during lunch breaks, while in waiting rooms, or any other moment that seems too long sit and twiddle my thumbs, but too short (and not the right spot) to get into something big. As I write this, in fact, I am waiting for my students to come in; the gap between when everything is prepped and the bell ringing (about 2 minutes – this post has taken me five different sessions of stolen time, including prolonged bathroom visits, waiting time, and student arrival time).
  • I jot ideas for new blogs in my drafts section, on my phone app for WordPress – this saves me a lot of think-time when I sit to write, and I can do it in any stolen moment I can find.
  • I schedule blog posts, Facebook posts and prepare Instagram posts in my camera roll, so that I am not needing to stop and do it throughout the day. You know, having a full time job means you probably shouldn’t be doing that all day long.
wolf
This wolf was designed in 5 minute chunks of crazy sketching over a few months. He isn’t the final version, but is a closer render to the “final” one. 5 minutes here and there add up, and they add up fast.
  • I sketch on my lunches (when I can), in the morning while I eat breakfast or before anyone else is up, and in the few quiet moments of a longer-than-expected nap that a kid is having. I try to keep sketch work to medium amounts of time, unless I’m in a sketching season. It’s all very fluid.
  • I keep a sketchbook nearby so I can jot down ideas and rough thumbnails for when they come. Otherwise, I don’t remember. This helps with momentum, and motivates me to follow up during a bigger chunk of time. I find notebooks are too limiting for my creativity these days, but I keep those around too, for when my ideas become more formal and I want to scratch out sample lines and proes by hand.
  • I don’t make excuses. I know that if I can sit and watch six episodes of The Gilmore Girls on Friday night, I can steal some of that time and get something done. It might be while I watch, or I might turn off the TV after only two episodes. But no excuses – if I don’t  get something done because I was vegging out, then that’s what I did. I realize this tip isn’t in particular about stealing time, but the more time we spend telling stories, the less time we spend making. So – no more stories.
wolf2
I did the wolf, after the sketches, in Photoshop. I started by opening and saving a new file. Another time, I sketched in the form. Another time, I worked on different fur treatements. It took about 5-6 different “stolen time” sittings to move the sketches to the (sort of) final version.
  • I get up earlier. More on HOW to do this in a future post, but I have found getting up 30-60 minutes earlier than usual (and before everyone else), EVERY DAY, has made my creative work flow, feel more productive, feel more sacred. I am stealing this time from my Sleeping Self, and as a non-morning person, I am so happy that I do this every single day.
  • I go to bed later. Okay, I am not talking about staying up til midnight if you have to get up at 5. I’m talking about taking the last 30-60 minutes of your normal evening and using that time for something other than TV, scrolling through Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, or whatever else, and use it for good. Read. Sketch. Write. Breathe. But steal that time back.
  • Stealing time should not include stealing time from family, relationships and yourself. I need to give my whole self to my kids and my wife. I need to give myself a break sometimes. I need to binge-watch GG, mindlessly scroll through Facebook and see what’s up on Twitter. Just not all the time. And again, stealing time doesn’t mean “My kid is playing over there so I can write a blog post while he plays because he isn’t talking to  me right now.”

Stolen time has been when my greatest, weirdest, most exciting ideas have surfaced. I highly encourage you to steal a bit of time, too.

How do you steal time? Let me know in the comments, by email or on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter!

Did you know that I’m on Instagram? I’m also on Facebook and have a website – you can even sign up for my newsletter there! You can email me at patrick@patrickg.ca. Please like, follow and share my posts if you’re feeling them, and have a creative day!

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