Creative Insights: Lesley Riley

No Time for Art? You’re Just Not That Into It

You make time for the things that are important to you. There’s no doubt about that, right? You craft your day so that you get all the important things done—all the must-dos—before you feel you can turn your time and attention to your art. I’m guessing that in actuality, having time left over for your art rarely occurs. The most common obstacle I hear from artists, crafters and creatives is that they don’t have enough time for their art.

But wait a minute . . . isn’t your art important to you? Isn’t it pretty much the most important thing you do for yourself? Well I’m going to challenge you: If you’re not making as much art as you want to, then it’s just not important to you. You’re just not that into it.

The common problem that most women face is that discovering their creative side and the thrill of creating took root in an already-very-full life. Lucky are those who had an art-filled life before real life got in the way. Having a well-established art-making routine or lifestyle before you got that 9-5, had children, took care of aging parents or any or all of life’s day-to-day realities can make fitting art into a very full life somewhat easier. But what if you’re a “Joanie-come-lately?” It may have started when you picked up a magazine full of art eye-candy. Perhaps it was during a weekend workshop, a play-date with some friends or the luxury of a week-long art retreat. Wherever and whenever it happened it was an awakening. You knew from then on you wanted more.

And then you got back home and the time never presented itself. Reality set in. Art is at the bottom of your list and the list is endless. You are not alone. Gail McMeekin, author of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women and the new, 12 Secrets of Highly Successful Women, says that “the lives of most women are so vaguely unsatisfactory. They are always doing secondary and menial things (that do not require their gifts and ability) for others and never anything for themselves.” Sound familiar?

You do them, not because these tasks are important to you, but because the people you are pleasing, helping, caring for and being accountable to, are important.  Studies show that women’s top priority is relationship. But in that desire to please, that need to maintain relationships, you are forgetting one very critical thing—your relationship with yourself. You have forgotten how important you are and you need the same kind of care, support and nurturing that you give to others.

You need to make a commitment to yourself and your passion—your art. Don’t you deserve that? And here’s the magic part: By giving to yourself, there is more of you to give to others. It multiplies and overflows. But you first have to give to yourself.

Easier said than done? Let me help you get started. If you do these 5 steps consistently and with intention you will succeed. Ask me, the mother of six, how I know.

  1. Announce your commitment. There’s nothing like having an audience to make you perform. Make it known what your intentions are and why. Tell your family, tell your friends, announce it on Facebook. Declare that starting today you are making art a priority.
  2. Set boundaries. Announcing your commitment to your friends and family is the perfect time to let everyone know that you are setting some boundaries in order to make this a reality. Let them know you will be taking scheduled, uninterrupted time for yourself. Having the support and understanding of those around you will enable you to have the guilt-free time necessary to summon and fire up your creativity.
  3. Schedule time. Your art-time is not a whenever thing when some free time appears or inspiration strikes. You must schedule it. I repeat, you MUST schedule it. Schedule and then keep the appointment with yourself. You show up for work on time. You meet your friends at the appointed time, pick up your kids when practice is over and present yourself at your doctor’s office as scheduled. Aren’t you as important as all of those other scheduled appointments?
  4. Create a habit. This goes hand-in-hand with scheduling your art-time. The goal of setting a schedule is to make art a habit. The goal of making art a habit is being in the flow 24/7 so that you can actually create on a moments notice. Have you noticed that the longer you wait in between art-full activity, the harder it is to get back in the flow? Making art a habit not only benefits your art talent, but you will feel so much better as a result. One, you’ll be happier with yourself for taking action on the thing you want to do and, two, the flow of endorphins that come from creating will make you physically feel better.
  5. Plan ahead. This one is key. Spend your out-of-the-studio time planning what you will do when you get in the studio. Gather your tools, your ideas, your supplies in off moments. Think of it as showing up for a class prepared with everything on the supply list, a vision of what you will create, your bottle of water, excitement and enthusiasm. You want to sit down at your art table ready to work/play, not spend your time looking for stuff or deciding what you want to do.

And if you are the only thing standing between yourself and your art, stay tuned for my next article here at CreateMixedMedia.


Lesley Riley is an internationally known artist, teacher and author with a passion for spreading the magic of art. Though her company, Artist Success, Lesley provides resources, coaching and mentoring to artists, enabling them to achieve their vision of success. For even more inspiration, check out ArtistSEEK a free expert interview series providing Solutions, Experience, Expertise and Knowledge to help you create your Artist Success. For more information and resources, visit


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One Response to Creative Insights: Lesley Riley

  1. Kimberly says:

    So true, especially creating habits. I like having “a plan” and being committed to a schedule. These are the traits that will enable you to accomplish any creative ideas that are rambling and occupying your thoughts. Well said Lesley, thank you.