The Value of Free Time as a Creative Person: Why Not Having a Car Has Made Me a More Creative Person
We are all really busy. Most of the creative people I know always have a lot of balls in the air. Often they work at a non art job, are creating bodies of work, networking, social media, submitting applications for shows and grants, and trying to have a social life at the same time. Where does free time fit into this? Maybe it doesn’t.
In my experience, creativity and free time are intrinsically linked. My ideas do not come from focus. Focusing on an idea feelings like running after a piece of paper in the wind, as soon as you get close enough to grab it, another gust of wind blows it further away. I can get as far as some unrelated and nonsensical sentences but no matter how hard I focus it still seems blurry.
I can’t force myself to make connections. They come in the free space between scheduled activities. I don’t have a car, so I spend a lot of time walking. This is time where I don’t have to focus on anything but getting hit by a car. If I see something interesting I can stop and look at it, and I can let my thoughts bubble as they come, instead of putting them aside to focus on the task at hand.
I love seeing surprises in familiar places, all of the small details that make up the texture of a city. I’m no photographer, but sometimes i’ll take photos of the details that I’ve missed. There is something special about really seeing something for the first time the 50th time you’ve seen it.
I live in a city that is freezing temperatures for about six months of the year. Right now we are in month four of winter, and I’m itching for a summer walk. In the winter my walks are shorter and faster, with my face down so the wind doesn’t sting my eyes and my eyelashes don’t freeze. I’m itching for some free time to see what I’m missing, and to connect the dots on what i’m thinking.
We need to stop measuring our worth based on our productivity, and start thinking about the things that bring us joy and the places that let our minds come out to play. I’ve been told my entire life that I just need to focus. To pay attention, follow the instructions, don’t get distracted. What If what I’ve really needed isn’t productivity life hacks, but a space for my mind to breathe.
The next time you are having a creative block, put down your pen and go for a walk.