Everything around you seems to fight against making your art. You don’t have the time. You can’t focus. You have to buy dog food and take out the trash.
But if you make a tiny space for your art, everything else will fall around it. Your body of work will grow from a crack on the sidewalk—to The Grand Canyon.
The first thing you need to do is make that tiny space for your art. Not a lot of space. Just a little. A tiny, tiny space.
Set a timer for ten minutes, and start making something. The most important rule is you can’t do anything else for that ten minutes. No email. No Twitter. Not even a sip of coffee.
Ten minutes doesn’t seem like much, but you’ll learn a lot in that time. Excuses and distractions will pop into your head, but since it’s just ten minutes, you’ll triumph over them. Perfectionism will try to take over, but you’ve gotta keep moving.
The other rule, almost just as important, is you have to congratulate yourself at the end of those ten minutes. You’re free to go play frisbee with Fido, or make a cup of coffee.
Much of the time, you’ll find you want to keep going. You’ve gained momentum. Go ahead and do that. But, like Hemingway would say, “stop when you are going good.”
Do this ten-minute trick every day. Experiment with times that work best for you. Most people are most creative in the mornings while they’re still groggy. Most importantly, find a time when other things won’t get in the way.
What you’re doing is you’re creating a tiny space where nothing can interfere with your art. You can cast everything else out of your head. It can all wait ten minutes.
But over time, that tiny space starts to grow. You keep building momentum, and keep feeling good about your art. Maybe ten minutes grows into twenty minutes. Maybe an hour. Maybe four hours.
As you look forward to your creative session each day, you start to arrange the rest of your life to make space for it. Getting the rest of your life organized becomes a priority, because you’ve gotta make space for your art.
You also start to notice the opportunity costs of everything else. Why read arguments on Facebook comments or watch Game of Thrones when you could be making your art? It all pays someone else. Pay yourself instead.
By making a tiny space for your art, you push everything else aside for just a little bit. Over time, that space starts to grow, and you get ever closer to making your masterpiece. But please, don’t forget to feed your dog.
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