I think that the scariest of all unseen art is art that never gets made in the first place.
Can you imagine a world where all the greats never had time to give to their practice, and so it just never developed?
There are so many factors that can contribute to a lack of undisturbed creative time. It can be self-inflicted: I’m sure many of us have heard the argument that technology’s great capacity for connecting people comes hand in hand with its ability to stop us from connecting with those right in front of us. By keeping everyone insanely busy, it’s become dubbed as a thief of time. And although big tech companies have created screen-time apps – knowing that their users are becoming increasingly concerned with their internet usage – it can still be hard to strike the balance between time spent online, promoting, marketing, researching your work (or, you know, just scrolling) – and actually making the stuff.
Or it can be externally imposed lack of time; the business of work and family life, the responsibilities in and outside of the home. For women there is an added pressure, as this article by Brigid Schulte shows. Historically speaking, it is because of the work of women, acting as gatekeepers of time for the men they served, that men have been able to pursue their artistic careers. For parents – I can only imagine that navigating the 24/7 job-and-joy of a child, alongside the 9-to-5, makes it near impossible to carve out time for yourself, let alone time for yourself and a pen, an instrument, a paintbrush etc.
It needs to be asked then: how do we do it? How do we continue to create, to push ourselves, to grow in our craft and know that we’ve given everything we possibly could to it and that we haven’t left anything unseen that we’ve wanted to be seen?
Some personal reflections on time…
As I enter the working world, or at least desperately attempt to, I’m constantly told to enjoy this unfettered time for my creativity and enjoyment. The freedom to indulge in reading and writing. It’s definitely easier said than done, and I know that everyone who encourages me in this says so from the distinct lack of time that the working week allows for these pursuits.
So aside from spending my time raving about the ideal utopia I have in mind of a four-day working week for the benefit of our creativity and the planet, here are a few things I’ve learned.
1. Get yourself a group of dedicated supporters.
Sputnik has several Hub groups you can join to be continually inspired and challenged in your creative endeavours. It’s always an encouragement to attend them, because they remind you of the wider art world in which we’re working, where everyone is dealing with similar issues. Beyond this though, they’re great opportunities for networking and creating. It’s inspiring to hear from artists in disciplines as far-flung as fashion design and writing, or filmmaking and lino printing. I challenge you to attend one and not leave feeling inspired and energised.
2. Make a routine.
This is very easy for the unemployed gal to write, but yet I still always find myself too busy to write, read, and market myself. If this means waking up a little early to write every day – or if that’s too daunting, then even once a week – this will help create a muscle and a rhythm that makes your art a continual practice rather than an overwhelmingly daunting task when you finally have free time to commit to it.
3. Keep it sacred and safe.
By this I mean treat your art with a level of seriousness and importance that you would any other act of service. As much as art is, hopefully, a joy, it’s also a duty and a service to translate and make sense of the world around us through what we create.
So I leave you with the question. What haven’t you made yet? What ways have you not challenged yourself? What’s that piece you keep meaning to create or the poem that you’re afraid of writing?
And what would it mean if you never got round to making it, what if it goes forever unseen?