Making Time for Creativity--Growing Gills work through

  • Just came in to say thank you for sharing this book! I plan to check it out and hopefully it can help me get back on track!

  • SVS OG

    @Jason-Kilthau No problem! I am excited that would seem interested in participating and people are getting good insights from it. One reason I want to just do one chapter a week is so people can catch up if they want.

  • SVS OG

    Here is my chapter 2 homework:


    I've been putting ideas in my Notes app in my phone for awhile now, so I went through those and pulled out the most important/relevant ideas. I allowed some ideas to die there and not be transferred to this list at all. There are a couple that might be on this list due to the whole Sunk Costs/Idea Debt Type N that the chapter discusses.

    This was a great exercise for me, even if its a bit overwhelming to see all at once like that. The thing I was most surprised by was how many ideas I had for topics I want to talk about on my blog--apparently I have a lot to share! That is something I was pretty good about doing pre-kids, but ever since I had my first baby blog posts have been pretty sparse and spare--usually just posting about a new illustration and showing a bit of how it came together. I'm realizing that if I want to make a real dent in my Idea Debt, I'm going to have to give some love to my blog. My picture book and comic ideas loom so much larger in my brain I feel like they're the things I always have to pour all my work hours into, but they are such big time-consuming projects they take months or years to complete.

    The nice thing about blog posts is they are so much more approachable! I can finish one and hit Post and have a finished (not perfect 😉 thing checked off the list to give me a sense of accomplishment.

    Another interesting insight for me was my participation in Storystorm--or lack of it. I participated in January of 2017 and generated a whole list of ideas (some good, some terrible) and continued noting down ideas for the next few months, though that habit petered out after awhile. (Many of those ideas made it into my Idea Inventory above.) In January 2018 and then 2019, I had little interest in participating again, even though a lot of writer friends were posting about how great it was and necessary for creatives, etc. etc.

    I realized that part of the reason I didn't feel like participating was I still had some ideas left over from the first time that I hadn't yet had the time to complete--why give myself a whole list of new ideas to feel guilt over? This was a great insight for me, because I had the question in the back of my mind--why am I not excited to do Storystorm? I got alot of great ideas last time, maybe I should try it... now I know. I didn't want to add to my Idea Debt.

    And a note on the exercise from the introduction, the time tracking: I consciously chose to let myself off the hook for this one. My arms are full of kids most of the day and trying to track what I was doing when I often didn't even have a hand free was adding stress. I do believe it is a good activity, but at this time in my life the cost was greater than the benefit. I did get two entire days mostly tracked and a few more partially. The bit I did complete was helpful in that it showed me... I actually am using my time quite well. I DO make time for my creative projects, despite being the primary caregiver of two toddlers--go me!

    I don't have many time wasting habits--I don't watch TV, play video games, read novels, or do any other common time wasters much or at all. (Which, just by the way, are wonderful fun things to do and I don't fault anyone who does them! I'm going to make more time to read more novels... someday.) My one vice is (surprise, surprise) social media... and even that I have been working hard to reduce. Since I started tracking my screen time months ago, I've reduced my daily average screen time significantly. I am very proud of that. What I am hoping to get out of working through this book isn't the determination to make time to work, I'm doing that already. My focus is on effectively using that time to actually complete projects and get them out into the world.

    So, how are we all doing? I'll tag everyone who has been participating for an extra nudge to get this week's chapter complete: @ThisKateCreates @hannahmccaffery @Laurel-Aylesworth @ajillustrates @demotlj @Whitney-Simms ... @kaitlinmakes @Eli and @Kristin-Wauson also showed some interest 😉

  • SVS OG

    Hi all, I'm new to this discussion. I started reading this book a few weeks ago and have already made a lot of insightful discoveries. I'm traveling now, so I don't have all my notes with me.

    The most important discovery, from the five why's is that I'm afraid of failing. I'm 47 and have never done any at until about 5 years ago. I discovered drawing realistically in graphite and colored pencil and have had a bit of (personal) success with it. However, I want to get more creative by drawing digitally and in a more illustration style, which I have never done before. Hence the anxiety....

    I have no kids so my time tracking mostly revealed that I spend most of my free time playing useless games on my phone or watching Netflix.... Time much better spent on something useful. So why don't I? Because I'm no good at the moment because I don't know what I'm doing. Because I need to learn this will from scratch. Because I'm afraid I will discovery that I can't learn, that I have no originality, that I will fail. The chapter on big ideas floating around in my head didn't ring for me, since I'm afraid I'll never have any great ideas. But I still want to try, I just can't seem to find the courage.

    Since I'm traveling I do a lot of reading and in quite a bit ahead in the book. I'm currently reading chapter 13 and things are starting to fall into place. This chapter really speaks to me. It's about finding your routine and through your routine, ideas will come to you. Wow, this gives me such hope. Maybe I will be able to find my own original voice and ideas.

    One last thing (for anyone who's made it this far in my ramblings😉) chapter 11 talks about setting up an accountability group to stay motivated. I don't have any creatives nearby. Is anyone here interested in forming such a group? A group of 4 to 10 people should be ideal apparently.

    Meanwhile I love how you all share your stories here!

  • SVS OG

    I read this chapter last week but had been procrastinating over my reflection on it because, like @Laurel-Aylesworth my primary feeling was, "I don't have that many ideas." Rather than "idea debt," I struggle more with "idea desert."

    Of the three debts she describes, however, Idea Debt P is closest to what I experience in that I spend a lot more time on learning and preparing than I do on doing. I have a dozen half viewed SVS videos because one minute I decide I'm going to learn how to watercolor, another how to do pen and ink, and yet another how to do digital painting. I attribute some of that to being new-ish at my art. I've played around with it before but it's only in the last two years that I decided to get serious and figure out what I'm doing. There is so much I want to try that it's hard to stick with one thing long enough to become competent at it.

    I agree with the author's statement that the best way to deal with it is to produce more work and set yourself a deadline which is why after Christmas I started doing an illustration/story prompt that I send to my five year old niece every month for which she is supposed to write a story. (OK, she's actually my grand-niece but it makes me feel so old to call her that!) I still get bogged down in figuring out which style I'm going to do for each picture but it forces me finally to make a choice and see an illustration through to the end. For example, when I painted my recent picture of Evelyn the Bat flying out of the cave, I started out thinking I was going to do it as primarily line work with a light wash but when that wasn't working, I tried full watercolor which was still a struggle. Knowing I had to send the picture to my niece by the end of the month, however, I finally committed to a style, re-did the composition, and saw it through. There was lots of gnashing of my teeth but at least I got it done.

    So here is my list of things I carry around in my head. They are not projects per se but they certainly get in the way of my focus:

    1. I'm going to learn how to paint watercolors that are so artistic that a friend of mine who is more into fine arts than illustrations will be impressed 🙂

    2. I am going to learn how to digitally paint illustrations in the style of some of the incredible artists on SVS so that I can feel like I belong here

    3. I am going to learn to do pen and ink in a style that is reminiscent of E. H. Shepherd because it reminds me of the illustrations of my childhood

    4. I am going to learn to do watercolor illustrations in the style of Beatrix Potter because she is considered an icon of illustrators so if I can paint like she did, I'll believe I'm a decent artist.

    As you can see, most of my roadblocks are internal insecurities about the legitimacy of what I am doing. I think that's one of the hazards of being an amateur -- without the credentials of an art degree, I always feel a little like an imposter and am afraid that I am not even trained enough to tell whether my work is even any good. The forum has helped me realize that art degrees don't protect people from that feeling so I'm starting to worry a little less about it but it's still there. In fact, honestly, my initial reaction to this chapter was: "I must not be a real artist because I don't have tons of ideas floating around in my head."

  • SVS OG

    This is so interesting to me because, as my sketchbook pages above indicate, I have way too many ideas 😂.

    I think though that sometimes we let ideas go because we don’t think we are good enough to do them justice, in which case gaining confidence and ability is a good first step. This can easily become a trap, though, as the chapter indicates—our ideas will never be as good in reality as they are in our head. Like the Platonic Ideal/Essence of a thing that only exists in our head, but can never be perfectly translated into reality.

    Also just developing the habit of gathering ideas instead of letting them just slide away in the moment—it’s my personal belief that everyone has ideas, it’s just that some people grab hold of them and others don’t. 🤷♀️ But what do I know 🙃.

    Anyway, your project with your niece sounds really fun @demotlj 😁 I loved your bat image. I am excited to see what else you produce!

  • SVS OG

    @Sarah-LuAnn I love your reference to Platonic ideals. I have always thought of my sermons as shadows of Platonic ideals — that mere words can never really match the power of the spiritual ideal I am trying to communicate and I am coming to see art the same way. (I believe C.S. Lewis used that metaphor of living in the shadows of the ideal too though I don’t trust my memory enough to attempt to describe how he used it.)

  • The concept of idea debt really resonates with me. Because I do so many things (professionally and for fun), I always have more ideas than time, so most stuff gets catalogued in the back of my head only to resurface a couple times a year. Here's the list of just the stuff I've been thinking of doing/have started working on within the last 6 months:

    • “Big” digital painting for SVS
    • Short sci-fi comic to serve as a prologue to a larger graphic novel
    • Series 2 of “Bad Apples” acrylic paintings
    • Disney fan art digital paintings for my family
    • Flat Pop Portrait collections: Star Wars, Disney Animation, Pixar, Quentin Tarantino, Guardians of the Galaxy
    • Hard boiled/film noir fantasy screenplay
    • Translate Bad Apples paintings and Inktober illustrations to t-shirt designs
    • Write and record an alternative rock album
    • Creative a series of super short cartoons for my animation/motion graphics portfolio
    • Curate/strengthen/add to my illustration portfolio
    • Write and illustrate these picture books: The Wood Sprite, The Knight’s Son, an alphabet book. an animals around the world bedtime book, a polar bear christmas book, and an inner city twist on Little Red Riding Hood

    I'm really looking forward for later on in the book where we'll work on trimming down to focus on what we can actually get done, and to see all the great ideas that come out of the artists on this thread.

  • @Sarah-LuAnn My homework was really the five list:
    Nc animals paintings - this was "due" two months ago, but things came up. Need to hit it. I have one half done and can totally finish it. With 5 to 10 in a series I figure I can do a little booth at a local art fair. Sell my first painting maybe.
    Cute life comics -eh. This isn't a project. Just a thing I do.
    Cosmetics line - this is now at full steam. It's not full cosmetics line but palm/coconut free stuff for people with allergies. Apparently a difficult allergy and I've been formulating for my sister so may as well sell the products to recoup costs and help others with the same allergy. Label design is now! Love that part.
    Incubator project -I hereby cancel this. I literally got hit by a truck in the middle and need to let it go. Goodbye anchor from previous life.
    Video game - doing the concept art and art direction for an indie game with friends.

    I could add
    An addiction to reddit drawme, those are really warm ups though
    Need to finish some key svslearn classes before my smartschool class starts in Feb. Will need those skills plus may not have time for simultaneously doing them.
    I'm going to finish those darned master studies. They are important!

    Endless other stuff is swimming around but it's not creative.

  • SVS OG

    @demotlj I’m in the same idea desert. Constantly thinking i’m not good enough, having started so many svs- and other courses but finishing none. Feeling an imposter in the. Any facebook groups I joined. I also decided that this tear I would start to draw/paint regularly, I love your idea of doing a monthly painting for tou niece, someone to be accountable to to do your “work”.

  • SVS OG

    @Annemieke about what you said earlier--I'm still planning to keep to the one-chapter-per-week schedule so everyone (including me!) can keep up without feeling overwhelmed, but an accountability group is a great idea. Personally, I have two critique groups that I participate in that function as accountability groups and that is about all I have time and attention for, but I'm sure there are others in this forum that also need accountability partners to keep moving forward. You could wait until we get to that chapter (a couple months yet, at the pace we're moving at) OR just post your own thread in the forum and see who is interested.

  • SVS OG

    So the pattern the end of this week, read chapter 3 and do the exercise! See you then 😉

  • @SarahLuAnn I bought the book on Kindle and started reading it, but I’m far behind you guys! I don’t know if I’ll be able to catch up.

  • @Sarah-LuAnn I could kinda cheat at the cleanup exercise, because my desk has no space on it and I don't have much clutter yet from moving country. 😛 So that half is easy.

    My "Open loops" stuff may be harder. I'm putting it all in "Asana" right now and still find getting some stuff sorted exhausting. I'll see where I might have hidden procrastination clutter. Hmmm.

    Still contemplating removing "I'm busy" as a social niceties effects. You always have a choice, but I definitely wouldn't tell someone "What you want isn't a priority" even though when I say I'm busy I am telling them that implicitly. At work I would sometimes say "I've got X, Y, and Z and if I'm changing priorities to the thing you want I'll need to run that by manager" so maybe that's the same?

    How do you guys decline stuff? I sometimes do say I can't when I mean, "Yeah... Naw."

  • Has anybody had trouble downloading the workbook? When I fill out the form on her website it says its going to send it to me and then nothing happens. Tried on mobile and on my macbook and can’t seem to get it either way.

  • @Kristin-Wauson I don't really think you need it, tbh. It can mostly be done on paper. But I could email it to you if you want.

    So here is where I have to work. I have to roll things out every day so not much clutter yet.
    But, sometimes the clutter can hide in other places. I definitely have som "Open loops" that I just keep procrastinating in my Asana tracking thing....
    Also, my setup has an issue with "separating the means of production" as lean philosophy would call it. I have to go find all the sketches for whichever thing I'm working on and set up depending on project. Maybe I should finish one piece before I start another? Or even a series? Only one WIP? lol
    It could be an interesting experiment to apply lean to art, but maybe misplaced.
    (lean is a manufacturing approach that tries to avoid waste and has been trendy for a while now)

  • SVS OG

    @Kristin-Wauson go at your own pace, and let us know about your progress! You can try just doing a chapter per week like we've been doing if that works for you.
    The PDF link worked for me, but I've mostly been doing the exercises in my sketchbook/bullet journal so they're with all my other stuff and easy to find. I've been looking at the PDF on my computer to see how she sets up the pages for each exercise, but that's it.

    @ThisKateCreates Lucky you with an already-clear desk.... I meant to do a before/after picture but forgot to take the before one. My after is still not quite perfect, but it is vastly improved and I feel much better being in my space. 🙂 I, too, need a better way to organize sketches for works-in-progress, currently I just have them in a pile which I periodically file away when it gets too big... 🤷

    (Taken using the panorama function on my phone, thus the curvy perspective 😉 )


    There are still a couple "open loops" visible here... like, that pile of picture books on the corner of my desk. Those are books by authors who will be presenting at the SCBWI conference I'll be attending soon... also a reminder that I promised my toddler that I would take her to the "widdle teeny library" tomorrow. (We have two libraries close by that we go play at. One is large, the other... isn't 😂)

    But, the things that are out represent Current Projects rather than just any old to-do or undecided thing. I feel ready to move forward at least :-).

    How is everyone else doing? Still a couple days to go til Saturday 🙂

  • @Sarah-LuAnn I have to be honest, after reading the chapter about Open Loops, I still don't quite understand it. I mean, isn't life just a gigantic open loop, always full of things to do? I cleaned up my desk (because I like that idea that it is a space dedicated for illustration and nothing else), but what are some examples of open loops in your lives, guys? Maybe that will help me out with understanding it.

  • SVS OG

    This chapter for me described what I've been forced to learn on my own over the years through necessity. Physically, I live in a 960 square foot house in which I raised three kids so I had to be brutal about not keeping stuff around that I didn't absolutely need and that I thought I might get "around to someday." The hardest part of that has been letting go of books. As the kids' space needs expanded, I had to get rid of lots of beloved books that I was holding onto for sentimental reasons or books that I had picked up that I thought would be interesting to read. I also though have had to give up the electric piano I was going to learn one day, and the treadmill that was gathering dust and taunting me in the basement, and camera equipment I got back when I thought I'd learn nature photography. In a small house with active kids, space was so precious I had to learn to constantly ask myself, "Am I ever really going to get around to using this, reading this, doing this, making this, learning this, or any of the other reasons I am keeping stuff?" Small houses are great for "closing loops."

    As far as projects and open loops on my to do list, I know exactly what she is talking about because about five years ago I was getting really stressed out trying to keep all of the details of work and family in my head (which isn't helped by my really bad memory) so in desperation, I began reading all of this stuff on how to organize your life using "tickle files," and "brain dumps." The system I've used is very much what she describes and it really has helped. (Jake Parker described a similar concept on the podcast where they each talked about something they learned over the past year.)

    All in all, my reaction to this chapter was that I concur with her argument that open loops can add to our stress levels and learning how to close them really does help. (And having the kids finally move out also helps, though my youngest still comes home during college breaks and my daughter is still storing an awful lot of her stuff here. I keep threatening to give it all to Goodwill.)

  • SVS OG

    @Sarah-LuAnn thanks, since I’m travelling at the moment I’m not in a hurry to start the accountability group, since I don't have any crearive materials with me (and I’m also on a crazy sightseeing schedule). I’ll check in on this discussion thread from time to time to see how you guys are doing. Good luck!

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