change-memeDear Maria,

I just started a new job, and I feel so overwhelmed. I’m so tired when I come home at night. I have some projects I started, like needlework and beading, and I don’t have any more time to do them. I don’t know when I’ll get to them again. I just can’t seem to get my energy up to work on them. You’re a writer. Do you have any suggestions for how I can take care of my creative life?

Signed,

Need More Hours in the Day

Dear Need More Hours in the Day,

You don’t mention how long you’ve been at this new job? If it’s less than 6 months, please give yourself a break. Starting a new job is a big transition. You’re working hard showing up in a new place, meeting different people, getting to know their personalities, and the systems of communication and authority in the office. All that before you even get down to work! No wonder you are so tired at night. I suggest you give yourself a window on your creative pursuits until at least the 6-month mark. Your mind and body are attending to lower levels on the hierarchy of needs. As your rest and strength return, you’ll have more energy to give to your creative life. Try not to feel guilty for hitting pause on those projects.

Julia Cameron writes in The Artist’s Way that we fantasize that there is such a thing as “good creative time,” in which time is abundant for us to “frolic in creatively.” The truth is, “no such bolts of limitless time exist for most of us. Our days are chopped into segments, and if we are to be creative we must learn to use the limited time we have.”

I’ve discovered, when I do carve out that precious time, I have more energy and I’m more productive. What began as something I didn’t have time for becomes the essential activity to do meet the tasks of the day. If I’m honest with myself I know I can carve out a few minutes every day to nurture my creative self. I bet some days are better than others for you. Move with the energy you have, on any given day. It will change from day to day.

Once you have your bearings at your new job, you can revisit Julia Cameron’s observation. She invites us to look for the creative opportunities within the circumstances of our lives. No matter where we are, if we have an eye toward creativity and seeking inspiration, we will find it. So, perhaps there are ways your new job environment can give your creative spirit a boost, even if it’s not directly related to your specific needlework or beading. It might be through taking a walk or listening to music on your break. I highly recommend her book. She champions artists of every kind—and we are all artists—no matter what activity pays the bills.