Getting Creative 10 Minutes at a Time

by Alissa Marquess on October 17, 2011

As a parent, how can you make the most of your stop and start schedule for creating? Many of the creative moms I’ve talked to get frustrated either because they can never get started or because they can never finish a creative project.  One way to fix both of these problems is by finding ways to work 10 minutes at a time.

What creative project can I do in ten minutes?

  • Art JournalTen minutes for creativity
  • Draw: Challenge yourself to one sketch a day.
  • Sew: You’ll probably have to break your project into chunks. Pick fabric one day, cut pieces another, just keep going bit by bit.
  • Quilt: Many quilters use pizza boxes for WIPs (works in progress).  You can use Equilter or a design notebook to plan and then piece away.  One block at a time, you’ll get it done.
  • Scrapbook: You can choose a theme for an entire book and add to it over time or work on an elaborate one page layout.
  • Paint
  • Embroider: I store embroidery WIPs in ziploc bags.  Doodle Stitching, by Aimee Ray is a fun resource for relaxed stitching.
  • Knit or crochet: Maybe you want to try freeform knitting or crochet?
  • Needle felt
  • Write: Blogging, journaling, writing a story
  • Your Idea HERE- just choose your project and find a way to do things one step at a time!

How can I do this if I can’t leave things out?!

For many of these activities that should be no problem- your sketchbook and a pen can go anywhere.  For others you’ve got to make yourself kits. Embroidery and knitting can be stashed in a basket or bag and tucked by your bed or in the living room, wherever you are likely to work on the project.  For larger projects you’ll need some storage container that can hold what you need to work and then be tucked away again.  Maybe an under the bed plastic tote or a basket on your bookshelf.

Brewery Scrapbook Project Box
Plastic totes can make great Works-In-Progress boxes. I’ve got to label mine for it to work.

The trick is to put everything you need together in one spot.  Put in the scissors, the embroidery hoop, your pattern.  Obviously the sewing machine would be a bit much, but you get the picture. Make yourself a kit so you don’t have to go around gathering supplies when you want to be creating.

Project Notebooks

Creative Project Notebook

Write down your next steps in a project notebook. Here I have what photos I need to print.

Some creative work can be completed in ten minutes- say doing a sketch or writing a journal entry.  Some projects evolve on their own (such as the freeform knitting idea above, or an ongoing art journal page,) but some projects require a bit more planning and perseverance.  This is where a project notebook can help.  Your notebook is just a place where you can jot down next steps.  Keep it with your project.  That way, when you start work, you aren’t bogged down trying to remember where you left off.

If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by something, stop and think “What is the next step?”  then jot it down.  Often I find that I am overwhelmed when the next step is one I am confused about, so it feels impossible.  That means the next step might be, “Look up how to…” or “Call my friend and ask how she does this.”

Planning for longer work sessions

No getting around it, some things require uninterrupted time.  When you’ve been using a project notebook and taking little chunks of  time to work on what you can do in ten minutes, you’ll be better prepared for that day when you can get a baby sitter.

However, another option might be to decide that this is not the time in your life to DO the sorts of projects that take large swaths of time.  Only  you know if that could work for you.  For me, I’ve decided to consciously take a break from doing projects that will only work with lots of uninterrupted time.  That time just isn’t available right now and I decided: this is temporary.  My kids won’t be this little forever, and I’m finding it easier to leave the larger projects for later on.  I figure if just continue working on smaller creative endeavors I’ll be primed and ready as things change and time opens up again, so instead of feeling guilty about what I cannot accomplish, I’m making it a choice.

Make a commitment:

The only way we’ll get creative work done as mothers is to commit to it.  Choose a time each day to create and then use that ten minutes for creating.

Drawing for ten minutes a day

Draw for 10 minutes a day and enjoy progressing.

Alternatively, make a commitment to work ten minutes each day and then look for that opportunity and grab it.  You’ve got to just do it, even when you don’t feel like it.  Set a timer and go!

Your whole day can easily get away from you if you don’t make it a priority.  To keep yourself accountable you may wish to find a creative friend, post on your blog about it, or check in on our forum to say what you’ll be doing.  We’ll be sharing pictures and stories during the week of what we’re working on.

I’m cheering you on!  Go get creative!  How about choosing a creative project to work on for ten minutes a day for a week? Are you up for that challenge?  What will you be doing?

4 comments
Brooke @ let kids create
Brooke @ let kids create

I love the idea of taking 10 minutes a day - I've made such a large list for myself to create since the kids are back in school, but I have to realize that I only have 1 child gone all day and still have 2 taking up a big chunk of my time. I needed to hear that some things need to just wait. At least for now.

critters and crayons
critters and crayons

This is wonderful- I recently finished what I call my "Happiness Wall" and it really is just a place to organize goals and tasks (short, near and long-term) and it includes a "work in progress station"- a neat orderly place where just one long-term project sits until it's done and then a new one is moved into its place. It's not as overwhelming to look at a task list if you feel you have a plan and it has a place. Thanks for this post!

Kristina
Kristina

I am going to try and draw something every day. I have an amazing sketchbook of images I drew about 10 yrs ago... and I haven't added to them in forever. I'm going to try and do that this week. Thanks for the challenge :)

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