Making Time for Creativity--Growing Gills work through

  • @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)

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    @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.

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    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.)

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    @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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    I love your thoughts on open loops @demotlj , its better than any explanation I could have given to @Laurel-Aylesworth. My understanding was simply that Open Loops are tasks or projects that have been started (even just by thinking of them or acquiring the materials) but not yet concluded--so they just sit there, unfinished, distracting you and making you feel guilty.

    She mentions the whole Magic of Tidying Up craze in the chapter, and while I'm not in favor of getting rid of posessions for the sake of being minimalist, I do agree that mess and clutter often represent projects, obligations, and decisions that we are avoiding.

  • @Laurel-Aylesworth I think you are right in a sense. Life is an open loop. Until it isn't at least. XD But I think she was specifically talking about tasks and projects you haven't finished and especially are procrastinating and storing in your head.

  • @Sarah-LuAnn thanks! I will do that. I finally found the email with the PDF download in my spam folder. I need to start time tracking exercise today and I don’t want to because I have wasted too much time doing nothing already today! 😂😂 I guess that’s the purpose of the exercise.

  • @demotlj Oh Demotlj! I so relate to you! I also spend too much time preparing instead of doing, never feel my skills are good enough for the result I am seeking, I have no creative idea and I feel I'm a fraud here and anywhere I meet artists. If it can give you comfort, I have to say you are a real inspiration to me : because you succeed in drawing on a regular basis for your niece and also, because I am seeing your progress here (I really liked seeing your process for Evelyn the bat and the end result is so great!). Keep it on, you are aiming in the right direction, I can tell!

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    @Julia Thanks, Julia for the kind words. I've been trying to apply to myself the strategy I used raising my three kids. Whenever I praised them, I tried to avoid saying things like, "You are so bright;" or "You are so talented," because those are things that we can't control. I knew that if someday they failed a test or met someone more talented than they were, it could cause a fundamental identity crisis if that's only how they saw themselves. Instead I would say, "You are so determined; you are so persistent; you are a really hard worker; you never give up; you are so responsible, you are so kind, etc." because those were all things within their control. I have to constantly remind myself of the same -- I may not be as talented an artist as a lot of people here but I can be persistent! My "talent" is my stubborn refusal to give in to my doubts and lack of artistic skills!

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    I completely agree with what you all are saying! It’s gotten to the point where I never let it slide when someone tries to call me talented. It’s probably really obnoxious, but I find it incredibly obnoxious when art is dismissed as something just for talented people. Just this morning I had this exchange on Facebook:


    As I said, maybe it’s obnoxious of me to always call it out like that, but YEARS of work have gotten me to the point where I can make the work I do, and having two toddlers to watch means it takes serious dedication to make the time to work. That has nothing to do with talent.

    When ch brings me back to the reason I want to work through this book, actually. I want to manage my time even better to be able to spend even more time improving my skill and completing projects. 😁 as I am sure is true for everyone else working along with me—which I really appreciate!

  • My workplace has been organized and cleaned up (made easier by the fact that I just did so before we started going through this book). Doing so made me realize what are the two biggest Open Loops I deal with: on a daily level it's piles of clean clothes all over my work area (we're great at doing laundry, but terrible at folding it and putting it away), and on an annual level it's tax season, which is just gonna have to be sporadically open until all the documents come in and we can file. But at least now I've got all the forms I have gotten so far filed away, ready to go.

    And for a quick circle back to Idea Debt, I'm trying something new. At work I've labeled and set out an "Andrew's Idea Debt" jar, so that when I or any of my team members come up with a fun idea/project that I don't have any time for, I'm writing it on a slip of paper, folding it up, and placing it in the jar. I'm curious to see how this works out long-term, but so far, it's been a relief letting these ideas go to the jar.

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    The jar sounds like an interesting solution, @ajillustrates ... its like you're writing down the idea so your brain doesn't have to hold on to it anymore, and then letting it go.... but maybe not permanently. I could see that working for some people. It depends how attached to the ideas you really are I guess. Hmm.

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    I would like to stick with the chapter-per-week schedule, however.... I'll be at a SCBWI conference next weekend and I'll be spending a lot of time getting ready for it during the week.

    So what do you guys think--should we

    1. Take a break this week to let me and those who are a bit behind have time to catch up
    2. Keep moving forward at the chapter-per-week pace and let people catch up (or not) as they will.

    I'm kind of torn. What do you all feel?

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    @Sarah-LuAnn I think it’s ok to take a week off to give you time to focus on other things and others to catch up. Given that the book is about feeling like you are drowning in commitments, it would be ironic if reading the book itself added to the feeling of being overwhelmed!

  • @Sarah-LuAnn I agree with Laurie. Let's regroup after your conference - and please tell us about your experience when you get back. I'm usually wiped out afterwards, but it's worth it. Have fun!

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    Sounds good. I think a couple people wanted to catch up anyway, and cleaning your desk/office can take some time. 😊

    I will definitely share afterwards, I am so excited for the workshops and keynotes... and I will get to see @smceccarelli there too unless her plans have changed, which will be so fun 😃.

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    I'm making my way through the next chapter... excited to check in this weekend!

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    So... my “shoulds” list is getting really long.

    I wasn’t going to post them but... I think it would help me just to put them out there, if that makes sense. If anyone cares to read all these... you get a prize.


    I should be keeping the house clean, making good dinners, and spending quality time with my family. This should satisfy me without needing to have another career.

    I should defy the patriarchy and give up stay-at-home motherhood for a career.

    I should prioritize my art over menial things like housework.

    I should get the chores done before doing fun stuff like art.

    I should have an agent already. What is my problem? Oh yeah... I should send more queries/postcards.

    I should be focusing on my portfolio.
    I should be focusing on dummies.
    I should be focusing on my drawing class... it starts in just a couple weeks after all.
    I should be focusing on querying.

    I should have more completed dummies/manuscripts before querying agents.

    I should have myself, my family and my work on a perfect schedule which magically includes time for everything I need/want to get done.

    I should do more with my blog.

    I should be using my phone/social media/technology less

    I should have a regular posting schedule for Instagram/other social media to really make connections and build a following.

    I should have more out-of-the-house date nights with my husband.

    I should do fanart.

    I should only do original stories/characters.

    I should have more animals/classrooms/book covers/backgrounds/STUFF in my portfolio.

    I should just do the art I love whether or not it expands my portfolio.

    I should do more traditional art.

    I should practice photoshop.

    I should sketch every day.

    I should never let my toddlers watch Netflix. I should entertain them myself and be happy and excited and fulfilled every second of it.

    I should find another babysitter to watch my kids so I can do more art.

    I should wait til my kids are in school before pursuing any kind of career.

    I should have more kids. I should want more kids.

    I should be better at all of this by now.


    So... what kind of “shoulds” are you all dealing with?

  • What a cool discussion! I should read this book too! 🙂 i feel so disorganised and a master of procrastination.

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