Finding time for creative outlet
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Parenting, Families, & the Community > Finding time for creative outlet
I'm about to embark on a master's program in public policy --
and while I'm excited about this new venture, I'm also worried
that focusing on such pragmatic and technical issues is going to
cause my creative side to feel neglected. Not to mention that I
have two kids -- 4 and 10 mos. -- so any spare time (hah!) I
have will be dedicated to addressing their needs. And no,
making open-faced sandwiches with olive eyes and string bean
smiles does not meet the criteria of ''creative outlet.''
I'm already a bit disappointed with myself for not yet having
won the Pulitzer for fiction, and considering I haven't even
started my novel it's not looking promising. But at this point
I'm not even thinking about when I'll have time to write -- I'll
be glad to just have time to read a novel in the next two years.
My greater concern is down the line, beyond this degree. What
do artistic people who have wonky, technical jobs do to a) find
creative release and b) keep their creative side from
atrophying? Can you be truly happy in a field knowing that it
really only calls upon one side of your brain?
Any experiences and advice appreciated -
I went to public health school and found that creative outlets
were mandatory. For me that meant taking dance classes. I made
sure they fit in my schedule by treating them like appointments
or as part of my curriculum and I pre-paid for classes so I'd be
less likely to skip. Now I have a job that utilizes the
tech/policy side of my brain and I don't expect it to satisfy my
creative side (although sometimes I'd love to quit and become a
yoga teacher!). I take adult education classes in art at Laney
and at Studio One (45th near broadway) and I love them. You can
sign up for a one-day per week class and completely lose
yourself for a few meditative hours drawing, painting, or in a
photo lab. The classes at Studio One are a little more
expensive than through the community college system (Peralta).
You haven't finished your novel either, huh? You're in good
company. My advice to you - one creative sort to another - is to
be glad you have a tech/wonky side to exploit! Get your MPP and
get a good, interesting, worthwhile day job. Then scratch your
creative niche at night after the kids are down, or whenever you
can carve out some time for yourself. Be greedy about that time,
too. Insist on it, even if it's only an afternoon on the
weekend. And remember this They're not underfoot forever. A
seven year old doesn't need you to entertain her anymore (but
you still have to drive her everywhere). And a 15-year-old
doesn't even want to know you.
One more thought - your kids aren't getting in the way of your
creativity, they're providing rich fodder for the great stuff
you're going to write/paint/dance about in later years. Get to
In years to come, when you have an established job and your
children are older and in school, you will have time, if you make
it for yourself, to write short stories, or even a novel if you
have the perserverance. Until then, try to keep a notebook or
file of index cards where you write down story ideas, metaphors,
ideas for characters, etc. as they occur to you now. Another
thing you can do now, which I found helpful, is to observe other
people closely, especially if they have personalities you find
interesting, and try to see if you can get down on paper
characteristics and such that go into illustrating that
personality. Since you will be in graduate school and will have
to attend the occasionally boring seminar, this is a good time to
do such writing. Or at odd moments on the bus. This should be
done more as a whimsy than as a chore, otherwise it will become a
In other words, for the next few years you can gather material
which you can someday use to write that Pulitzer prize winning
novel. And who knows, even now if you gather enough material you
might be able to hammer out a story or two during a vacation.
Good for you!
I'm a grad of GSPP. When I attended I was 33 years old and a
single mom of a toddler. It was tough -- partly because it kept
me very busy and partly because I didn't feel a close connection
to the other students.
I feel very strongly that creativity should be an essential
ingrediant to policy analysis, and I'm so happy that you will
lend your perspective! They (the wonks) don't always get it,
but they need to be shook-up.
My current job has unfortunately deteriated into extremely
boring number crunching. I'm dying to find something new, but
given the economy and my need to remain in the Bay Area, I don't
see much hope at this time. So I keep trying to shake things up
at work, and I express my creativity through decorating my home,
my garden, dancing, etc.
It's not so terrible, as long as I keep my perspective, and
realize that eventually the job market will get better, and I'll
have more freedom to do what I want.
Just be yourself and you'll find your way!
this page was last updated: Jun 10, 2003
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