Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Medium.
Why you need to start saying, “No,” to anything that doesn’t inspire you.
What if you could see the world like your creative idol?
Leonardo da Vinci was notorious for his constant procrastination.
His patrons ached at the length of time it could take Leonardo to finish his work.
They’d be lucky if he actually completed his commission.
Leonardo was a procrastinator and perfectionist.
Not a good combination when people are paying you to paint for them.
By the time of his death at age 67, Leonardo had only completed 15 paintings.
He carried the Mona Lisa with him until he died.
He worked on it for 15 years.
Many of Leonardo’s works remained unfinished for various reasons.
One of them was Leonardo’s understanding of his creative process.
It takes time.
“Every now and then, go away, have a little relaxation. For when you come back to your work, your judgement will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” — Leonardo da Vinci
Sure, but we don’t all have the luxury of being a genius.
True, but stick with me here.
Leonardo understood that in order to do his best work—work people were paying him for—he needed to make space for it.
Not just the doing of it, but the contemplation and formation of it.
That meant making space for himself.
Stop prioritizing other people’s problems.
Doing everything for everyone hurts your creativity.
It’s difficult to be a modern creative person.
Leonardo didn’t have a day job.
He didn’t have to pick up the family minivan from the shop before school got out.
Leonardo didn’t have a lawn to mow or Costco runs to make.
Prioritize your creativity.
When the symphony of life begins to feel like nothing but a factory producing completed tasks, two things happen.
First, your creativity gets buried by a sense of duty to tasks.
The maintenance of daily life becomes your priority and before you know it, there’s no energy left for your creative expression.
Second, you begin to resent people.
You resent yourself for agreeing to take on so much.
You resent the people who rely on you.
Anger and frustration set in.
Nourishing your creativity nourishes your entire life.
To fully express your creativity, you need to prioritize it.
You will never find the time.
You need to make it.
Schedule time to work on your art.
Make others aware that this time is yours to focus on what makes you happy.
Taking this time for yourself is going to make you a happier person, and that’s going to ripple through the rest of your life.
It’s not selfish to take time for yourself.
We all deserve time to recharge or focus on something that brings us joy.
Pay attention to the times when you’re at your most creative.
What is the environment like around you?
Take note of how busy you feel; of how many obligations you feel like you’re juggling.
The fewer distractions you have from your passion, the more it can flourish.
Not just because you’ll have more time and energy to spend on it.
But also, because you’ll be present with it.
You’ll be a happier, more joyful person and the resentment that builds with feeling overly relied upon will stay away.
Call to action.
Select a part of the day and claim it for yourself.
Schedule at least an hour every single day ideally at the same time to foster your creativity.
Look forward to it.
Take full advantage of it.