Dedication to one’s craft requires sacrifices, and you have to know how much you’re willing to give up to achieve what you define as success (assuming you can achieve it).
I recently interviewed Jeff Hyslop, a Canadian stage and television icon. (You may remember him from your youth as Jeff the Mannequin in the children’s show Today’s Special.) I was surprised to learn that he was still dancing in front of audiences at age 62 (and that was after hip replacement surgery). He’s close to having spent six decades dedicated to dance and musical theatre. I haven’t hit 40 yet, but I’m certain he could out-dance me. Staying creative and physically fit for almost 60 years of your life is incredible dedication.
I inquired about it, of course, and he gave me a reason: he makes time for himself: He stretches regularly, uses a footsie roller to keep his feet and Achilles tendons supple, and walks a lot.
After we hung up, I reinstated my bedtime stretching routine and aimed to regain my splits by my birthday. Although I wouldn’t call the splits “my craft,” I spent about 15 minutes each night stretching before I went to bed, and lo and behold, I got my splits back, as long as you’re okay with accepting two inches or so of space between me and the floor.
Writing could benefit from the same amount of dedication. However, I’m not at my writing best at 10:30 at night. I need to write during the day, so I have to make the room, literally.
I’m starting to take to heart the minimalist movement, i.e., doing away with things that don’t help you in life anymore. (Or, to use the less trendy name, living like your grandparents, so long as they weren’t packrats.) Because it all comes down to this: I can spend my time searching for things I can’t find, putting away the things I do find, and cleaning around all of it, or I can practice writing.
So I’ve drawn up a schedule to go through my house over the summer and start getting rid of stuff. Less stuff = more time. If I spend two hours or so a week de-cluttering, I’ll have those two hours by September to write (in addition to the time I already have) plus the time I would’ve needed to maintain all that stuff. No more shoving things out of the way to get at other things. No more crawling over things in our storage areas. No more wondering where other things are because they’re stuffed behind things that need to be moved or crawled over.
Really look at your environment and see what helps you with your creativity and what hinders you, and then fix it. You may have family now, perhaps even some older loved ones who need your help, and you likely have other true priorities. However, people who know what their true calling is (this is different from your ego thinking it knows what its true calling is) make the time. If you’re getting a late start wtih that, that’s okay! One of the easiest ways to make time for yourself is to clean up your environment. Remember: less stuff = more time.
And on that note, I’d better get to that pile of laundry ominously waiting behind me.
Edited April 26, 2021: Have to find that photo of my splits, and I updated the link to my interview with Jeff Hyslop.