Creative time is a period of outflow. Watching TV or listening to a lecture is inflow, as is reading, eating, and mindless vegging. There is a time and place for all of these activities, but creative outflow will give you more bang for your buck than any other activity you can think of.
All entertainment is inflow. It takes no effort and it plays with your emotions to make you feel that something worthwhile has happened. In some cases, it can even be inspirational, but it is no substitute for actually getting out and doing something yourself.
I am not condemning inflow, but there is a time and place for everything. I read omnivorously, whether it is books, blogs or trade magazines. When I was a kid, I read almost every waking moment. I find TV entirely addictive when the presentation is cunningly designed to grab my attention and hold me enthralled. Until they insert a commercial, I will stand transfixed by the action, even though I am on my way to do something important. But, I found that reading a book or sitting in front of a TV after a long frustrating day at work did little to improve my mood or my condition in life.
I didn’t come to this conclusion overnight. It actually took a number of years when I found that I was getting more satisfaction from little household projects accomplished without enough money or the proper tools than I was getting from my entertainment center. It was the accomplishment of creating something that wasn’t there before that fired me up.
When I left high tech employment involuntarily in 2001, I knew I didn’t want to throw myself back into the rat race, but I was not sufficiently prepared for post-corporate life. I had not done my homework and there was no Danger Quicksand – Have A Nice Day to prepare me for what I was about to encounter, so I did the tried and true approach that had always worked before. I threw myself into intense creative activity. I had no idea how to write a novel, and I still don’t, but I wrote about 260,000 words over several months time. I also managed a household move to Virginia and began woodworking projects to customize the new home to our needs.
In the process, I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted to do with my life. The months of intensive writing gave me a new perspective on life and a deep appreciation of my relationship with my wife Gretchen. She made my transition from high tech employment to self-employment possible by providing the emotional and financial support that such a major transition requires. Her willingness to embrace change and her encouraging me to create were critical factors in my ability to produce results.
It was some time before that outflow began to pay off in terms of generating income, but it had already paid great dividends in terms of putting my attention on the future I wanted to create. That novel writing effort isn’t wasted either, because it will get published as a historical fantasy now that I know how self-publishing works.
The takeaway from all of this is that the course of life does not run smooth, but you can prepare yourself to overcome any barriers you encounter by constantly making time to create. I don’t think it matters what you create at first, just create. The mere act of constant creation will stimulate your thinking and you will find more things that need to be created. There is no danger is running out of things to create. Just do not get drawn into making things you are not interested in, because that is what "work" is all about. This creative time, when done properly, is an antidote to work and will add a new and brighter view to your life.