One way in which I ensure every free moment I have (or has the potential at least) to be creative, is to ensure that any otherwise ‘dead time’ can be filled with an artistic activity. By dead time, I mean: time spent travelling; sitting at the doctor or dentist waiting to be seen; waiting in a meeting, where the rest of an agenda is nothing to do with me until it is my item; waiting on a friend to turn up if they are running late; any time at all, in fact, which has the potential to be boring.
The key to using this dead time usefully and creatively is preparation. If I know I am going to be travelling for any length of time, at the bare minimum, I will have lots of scrap paper and a pencil case with me. Above, you can see a sketch of my daughter I did as a mermaid for her birthday card when I was on the train for 20 minutes from Perth to Dundee. In that 20 minute period, I was able to translate a couple of photos I had of her on my phone into an fully developed idea for a card, and to work out the basic art work. However, for long journeys, I tend to be much more prepared. On the 6 hour journey down to London, I took an instructional book in paper mechanics with me, paper, glue, scissors and a scoring tool with me, and worked out the mechanism for the Easter pop up card below. If I’m flying abroad, I always take a range of art projects with me, with lots of paper, pens and coloured pencils with me, to take advantage of this bounty of time. In my experience, having a period of otherwise ‘dead time’ can really focus my mind, and provide an opportunity to work through a creative concept.
New technology also means you can squeeze as much as you can out of dead time. Of course, capturing your thoughts with pen and paper is perfect in many scenarios. However, I have been astounded by how fond I’ve become of my Chrome notebook. I’m writing this blog post right now using it, while jetting through the skies back from holiday. Although I could have written it using long hand on paper, I’d then had to type it up, an extra stage in the process - and now, as I’m a relatively fast typist, I find that my words almost flow out of me better using a key board. As you can access your documents offline as well, it is perfect for travelling. The other piece of technology I use all the time is the voice record tool on my mobile phone, usually on the Google Docs app. I’ve found it so useful to record ideas which occur to me at random times - walking the dog round the block last thing at night, pushing my daughter on a swing in the park, lugging a bag of shopping home. It is quick and easy to speak your thoughts into the phone - and I have found that once you have started a thought process, this can trigger a series of connections, all of which you can record quickly and easily as they pop into your head. Many of the essays I wrote during a management course I’ve just finished in my day job were developed using this tool. What about you? What do you like doing which helps you make use of ‘dead time’?