If you're like me, you can become obsessed with writing. Always thinking, always planning, spending as much time in front of the computer as possible. I asked Zoe McCarthy to give her advice on controlling those urges so we can maintain a life outside the writing world. -- Sandy
Zoe: Hello. My name is Zoe. I’m a creativity junky. If you’re like me, your compulsive desire to create threatens your sleep, family and spiritual living, housework, and other responsibilities.
Know that once a creativity junky, always a creativity junky. But try theses 6 tips to help you know when to free your imagination to fly and when to rein it in.
1. Treat your writing like an outside-the-home job. I’m a full-time writer. On weekdays, I rise at 5 AM and start my day in Bible study and intercessory prayer, which prepares me for a good day. Around 9 AM, after breakfast and cleanup, I climb the steps to my office. I take care of non-creative tasks first, and then until 6 PM, I unleash my creativity to work on stories, blogs, and ministries. Ahhh.
2. Carry with you something to write on at all times. Creative ideas pop into my head while I pray, eat, work around the house, and even while I dream. I want to pursue an idea NOW. I can often control that urge by writing the idea down on my notebook or iPad. In effect, it’s scheduled, and I can relax.
3. Avoid activities at bedtime that tempt your creativity. I’m learning it’s dangerous to work on a scene or blog before going to sleep. When the lights go out, I’ll rework the content in my mind for hours. So, to stop ideas from streaming, I read a little of a book that’s far from a page-turner. Or I play a boring solitaire game on my iPad.
4. Plan moments throughout your day to re-ground you in non-creative living. For me, God is my guide, my counselor, and my Lord. Sometimes, I get wrapped up in my creative work and forget that. So I schedule another time with the Lord, using a devotional after lunch. Also, I plan tasks that include exercise for my breaks from writing.
5. Train yourself to keep certain days for family time and doing things other than creative work. This tip is the most difficult for me. It’s hard to shut down the creative frenzy for long periods. However, I’m working on the habit of taking off weekends. Also, I attend a Bible study Wednesday mornings. I schedule appointments, writing catch-up, or free time for Wednesday afternoons.
6. Do creative activities with others. My husband and I have worked together on activities, such as designing our house, creating a garden pond, and planning creative activities for Sunday school children. My creative nature loves and feeds on such times with my husband. And, I enjoy playing make-believe with my grandchildren.
Making habits of these tips will help round out your life.
What has worked for you to prevent your creative work from taking over your life?
A full-time writer, Zoe M. McCarthy spins contemporary Christian romances and short stories with splashes of humor. A self-publisher of two books of contemporary Christian short stories, Zoe has also published short stories with Christian Fiction Online Magazine. She is represented by Hartline Literary Agency and currently has a novel under contract, Calculated Risk. She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.
Zoe’s blog, Creative in Everything, (http://zoemmccarthyblog.wordpress.com) gives quotes, tips, and examples of how people can creatively engage others in their home, workplace, and volunteer activities. You can connect with Zoe on her Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/ZoeMMcCarthyAuthor and through Twitter https//twitter.com/zoemmccarthy