How our perceived sense of time can rob us of the opportunity to create

view of poppies from the writing retreat in Central Portugal

I find I have regulated my life to the church clock which is up the hill from the writers retreat. I have even taken to rising earlier to get my journal complete before the first chimes of the day. It feels as if I can steal a march on time if I do it this way and makes a positive start.

This morning I have been writing about what is important to a creative life and what isn’t. It’s the age old conundrum of resisting the urge to look for affirmation, to crave success, to eliminate the need to see tangible results for the effort we expend. It’s also about fighting a rear guard action not to squander time on less value occupations, like surfing the internet and worrying about what I haven’t done – stupid really.

When society appears only values everything in monetary terms it really does feel like swimming upstream when you eschew that particular capitalist hegemony and strike out in your own way, on your own adventure. I suppose the best method of counteracting doubt is to be surrounded by like-minded souls who can at least empathise with your aims, dreams and philosophy.

 Developing a dialogue with others, whether that’s electronically or face to face, can do wonders in offering support and nurture, especially when the going gets tough; which of course it often does. I guess it’s important to know we are not struggling alone as we develop our sense of what equates to a fulfilled personal existence. It is far less challenging in one sense to remain locked into a more conventional approach to living. A supportive environment should not be underestimated especially if you are an artist operating in a less than fertile environment.

After all I think it’s all about maintaining momentum and a sense of progression. No artist can afford to stagnate, both in terms of their work and their lives. If art is life and life is art, a limited

 It is a skill in itself convincing oneself to be disciplined enough to give the inner artist some ‘play’ time. We are very quick to say that joining a watercolour class, or a dance class is frivolous, spending money on a writing retreat would be wasted; I couldn’t justify the cost for me. We can be really mean and even say, ‘It would be embarrassing; I am not good enough to do that in public; if I can’t write at home, why would I write anywhere else?’ We could of course, dismiss these needs with the overused phrase of blocked creatives, ‘Oh I don’t have time for…..’

 This phrase reminds me of when I was at university; I was a freshman and very passionate about my musical career and spent all my time gigging and rehearsing with a band. My tutor asked me why I had not managed to read one of the set books. I told him I didn’t have time. He responded by scribbling all the opportunities I could have used in a day and blew my argument out of the water ( I never liked him much, anyway, lol!)

I guess, that moment has obviously remained with me. The church bells divide the day into half hours and I find myself working to them. Between 7am and 10pm there are 32 half hours and it is extraordinary what one can achieve in those small blocks of time. Of course if you were to divide them into fifteen minutes – now you are talking!  So, Kurt Stadtfelt (My American Lit tutor) I was listening, even though you described me as the most disinterested student you had ever come across!

Therefore today, I am dividing up my day very specifically and I shall fit in everything it is important for me to achieve and that includes, reading, walking, writing two freelance articles, exercising, sketching, and doing some correspondence for some retreat bookings. I shall no longer use that lame, ‘I don’t have time’ excuse and will also put a post-it on my wall above the desk which says: ‘Art Is Process’. That is my new mantra!

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