Looking For The Postman

Welcome to the latest installment of Who’s The Daddy, a feature which shines the spotlight on the most talented Daddy bloggers, worldwide.

It’s an honour to welcome the talented Grant Robson of Looking For The Postman with his guest post: Seven Steps To Being Creative When You’re A Tired Parent Who Just Wants to Crash Out.

Something we can all relate to huh?!

Combing creativity with parenthood is no easy feat, especially after a night of no sleep and a billion and one daily errands and deadlines to make.

This post is jam-packed with valuable tips that will help get your creative juices flowing no matter how exhausted you feel.

Over to Grant…

Many moons ago, I was what I now call a ‘music producer’. It was more of a pot-pourri of music related projects which, when bundled together, became full-time work.

Pre-parenthood, I was working for MTV, DJing at music festivals and across Europe & the US, touring with bands (Charlatans, Embrace) and writing music for films. As with all self-employment, though, the income was somewhat erratic and after 18 roller-coaster months, I found myself back working a day job. That was ten years ago.

Now, I’m 44 and have 4 kids, but the desire to write music has never gone away. Despite this, the only music I have written in the last 8 years is a piece of music for my wife to walk down the aisle to at our wedding and a couple of things for some short films.

The reason for the lack of output was simply that, at the end of the day, I did not have the energy to start a creative process. I would push the idea aside and watch TV or a film. It is understandable that a job and kids and normal life can be draining, right? That’s what I told myself. That was my excuse.

The New Year bought with it fresh enthusiasm which was nice, but, in itself, wasn’t enough. I needed a plan. I needed to take this drive and focus it, be practical. I have to tell you that the plan worked, and I am back to writing music and being creative.

I’ve written what I believed to be the things that I did which made a difference and, while in my case it relates to making music, the principles can apply to any creative outlet. Hope they help you:

1. Have Your Tools Accessible

Whatever your creative outlet of choice, you have to make sure that the tools that you require are easily accessible and ready to go. For me, that meant taking the time to install the right software on my computer. For artists, make you know where materials are.

There’s nothing worse than getting the time and energy to do something and then have to waste a lot of that time finding things that you need. Also, knowing that you can start to realise an idea/story/sketch/ piece of music quickly and easily will make you more liable to actually do it.

2. Lose The Clutter

Your working/creative environment needs to be free from mess and potential distraction. Clean desk, clean mind. Without realising it, your mind may well be looking at things and they could be disrupting the thought process you’re aiming for.

That dirty coffee cup will start to nag at you. Getting all obstacles to a creative workflow out your way will help loads.

3. Mindsets and Notepads

While you might be on the go and busy throughout the day, you may still have spare thinking time. Train your brain to use that time to think about your hobby. You’ll find that just thinking about things will lead to new ideas, and give you some new things to try out. If you were a screen writer or a film maker, how would you depict the place you’re in right now? What could happen in this location?

I use note taking apps on my phone to record ideas throughout the day, but a good old fashioned pen and back of an envelope will do just as well. Keep thinking, thinking, thinking about what you’d like to do creatively. What it means is that when you finally do get the time to sit down and work, you’ve already got a good idea of where you’re going.

4. Take Your Chances

Everyday, I take my laptop to work. This gives me 20 minutes on the train journey (if I can get a seat with a table) and tea/lunch breaks at work. It’s a hassle, but it’s worth it and it’s good for me.

Writers and Artists are both told to do something every day. Take moments to write down a few words, do a light sketch. Musicians, play a tune at least once a day. Sing. Write a poem. Keep that part of your brain active and ticking over. Don’t let it atrophy.

5. Discipline Me

You’ve got your tools sorted, your workspace is ready to go and you’ve got an idea. Now it’s time to do your thing. You’ve worked hard to get to this stage, so make the most of this opportunity. A little discipline will go a long way.

Close down Facebook. Turn off the TV. Focus on what you’re working on and make it happen, little by little. It will happen.

6. The Doing Is The Inspiration

Any artist, regardless of discipline, will tell you that what they ended up with may not have been exactly what they envisioned at the beginning. It is often the actually act of doing something creative which inspires the next step.

For me, this would mean sitting down and playing a note on the piano. Then another note. Where will this take me today? A third note I may or may not like, but I’m on my way. The creative process is alive! Your brain is now firing ideas all over the place and you are in creative mode. It’s one of the best feelings you can have.

7. Be Honest

Another tip is to be honest with yourself. If something isn’t working out (a sketch, a compostition, a line of poetry), ditch it and move on. Don’t fixate if you know in your heart it isn’t working. Your time is too precious.

What I’ve found from doing all of this is that I have music pouring out of me. I am more focused and disciplined. My work rate and quality is so much better.

I am also much happier. For creative people, there’s always something bubbling under the surface. Once you find a way to express, vent and make, you’ll feel more complete. Whatever you’re doing, good luck!

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22 Responses

  1. Yvadney @ Mums That Slay

    I’m currently working on the clutter. It builds up so quickly with the little ones, but I know it has to go in order for me not to feel anxsy when i work. Thank you for such a great post! Yvadney x

    Reply
  2. Su {Ethan & Evelyn}

    I like your advice on dwelling on something that you are stuck on is pretty much time wasted. Move on and come back later is the approach to go. Thanks for the inspiration Vicki. x

    Reply
  3. Barrie Bismark

    Great tips. I am tired far too often, in fact, it has become the norm! Clutter free is something I struggle with.
    Barrie Bismark recently posted…5 Personalities of a ThreenagerMy Profile

    Reply
  4. Emma Peach

    I can relate to all of these points, especially the distractions – I wish I had more discipline to leave my phone/TV alone and just get on with whatever I need to do. I usually have a notebook with me for jotting down ideas which helps to focus the mind.

    Emma xxx
    http://www.style-splash.com
    Emma Peach recently posted…Beaded Maxi Dress in Barbados + Style With a Smile Link UpMy Profile

    Reply
  5. Caroline

    Some really great advice here! Definitely no 3, I get ideas while I’m on the go so I have heaps of notes on my phone. Also ,being honest when it’s not working. It’s so hard to abandon someting that you’ve put time and effort in too, but sometimes it has to be done. #brilliantblogposts
    Caroline recently posted…Paper heart decorations garland tutorialMy Profile

    Reply
  6. Zoe Williams

    Love this post! I already have a notebook that I use to write down ideas for my blog, I made a list of them all recently and I have enough to last me at least 6 months! So clearly I need to give myself a kick up the bum and start writing more!

    Reply
  7. Kim

    I can total relate to this! evenings are my creative time but the desire to crash out with a pack of biscuits is huge! I need to take on the clutter tip and just get on with it!

    Reply
  8. Rebecca

    these are great tips! I certainly need to de clutter… my old ‘craft room’ is absolutely choc a block with random clutter and Ive been meaning to transform it into an office for ages! #brilliantblogposts
    Rebecca recently posted…Don’t let the label ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’ take over ‘YOU’My Profile

    Reply
    • Grant R

      Thanks! A good clean out will even inspire you as you’re doing it. There’s nothing more therapeutic than filling up a rubbish bag with unwanted stuff!

      Reply
  9. Eb Gargano / easypeasyfoodie.com

    What a fab post – thanks Grant and Vicki 🙂 I totally agree with #2 – I literally can’t think with clutter around me. I have to tidy first! And #6 too – I always allow myself to write a ‘bad’ post first and then go back and edit it – rather than trying to edit as I go along. If I sat there waiting for the perfect sentence to arrive in my head, it would never come – so I turn off my inner critic and just write whatever nonsense I feel like. Then I turn her right back on and go back over it with my critical eye – I find that way so much more creative and end up with something much better…well and something at all for that matter! #4 I really need to do more of – I have a notebook and pen in my bag, but never use it!! I need to make the most of those little moments. Eb x
    Eb Gargano / easypeasyfoodie.com recently posted…Curried Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash ToppingMy Profile

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Super post and comment, have you ever read Becoming A Writer, I adore that book and Morning Notes, Brande’s invention is something I still do now, it’s writing with abandon and not checking back. So important to just get everything on the page. Writing is all about rewriting. Taking that same approach with my book, getting it all out then refining x

      Reply
    • Grant R

      I think you’ve hit upon a very important point here. Nobody is going to produce the finished product on the first attempt. That’s why we have ‘drafts’. Getting something down is the starting point. A good artist / creative type will then knock that into shape. Now, get some notes in that notepad!
      Grant R recently posted…Open Letter to Jerry, Phil & AlyMy Profile

      Reply
  10. Susie / So Happy In Town

    A clutter-free working environment – sounds so basic but so important. Thanks for sharing this – you’ve inspired me. #brillblogposts
    Susie / So Happy In Town recently posted…Children Should Be Happy, But some of them Aren’tMy Profile

    Reply
  11. Twin Pickle

    ‘Don’t fixate’ is a fantastic tip. Back in my architecture days I would quite often have to step away from an idea I knew deep down wasn’t up to scratch. It’s tough when you feel invested, but so important to do. Start fresh, your new idea will be even better! #brilliantblogposts ps. love the title of this one! haha
    Twin Pickle recently posted…DIY Murals for Kids Rooms That Do Not Require a Fine Art DegreeMy Profile

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    • Honest Mum

      Thanks, wise words and space is always good. It can also mean you return to an idea and find the solution to make it even better x

      Reply
    • Grant R

      You’re so right. In the past, I would spend an hour writing a piece of music and realise it wasn’t going anywhere and I’d get really down about it. Experience has taught me since then that it’s all part of the creative process. You explore an idea and sometimes it isn’t gold. It’s a positive process though, because you’ve exorcised a demon, got an idea out of the way, and now something else can fill that gap.
      Grant R recently posted…Open Letter to Jerry, Phil & AlyMy Profile

      Reply
      • Honest Mum

        You can always return to that idea with fresh eyes and make it work too or it will influence something in the future, even if that’s ‘I won’t going down that path again’. Nothing ever wasted hey

  12. Mark Thomas

    I read the first tip and thought “this is going to be the most useful”, then thought the same thing 6 more times.

    I need to print the 7 points out and have them on my wall!
    Mark Thomas recently posted…The Money Pit 2: Choosing a wedding venueMy Profile

    Reply

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