To late-night drinks.
To a 90-minute lunch in the middle of the day.
To water cooler gossip*.
To the 2 hours of small talk on the plane.
To the party after the party.
To the meeting you don’t have to be in.
The answer is no.
If you want to create things that matter, things that really matter, you’ll have to get used to saying this.
This isn’t about being an aloof artist (which you can’t afford to be). This isn’t about being the entrepreneur who checks out from all the relationships you have (which is suicide). This is about rejecting those who want your physical presence in order to pour into those who need your emotional presence.
Because nobody is going to give you time to create.
Nobody is going to say “George*, I heard you’re trying to make it as a photographer! Why don’t you just take some time between 1 and 3 to leave your desk, go outside, and get some great shots for your portfolio.”
Not in this world.
Instead, you’ll have to cut out some of the things you’re currently saying yes to. This doesn’t mean you are a jerk. This means you are conscious about how few minutes there are on this planet. This means you are willing to sacrifice some short-term pleasure for long-term impact.
My coworkers know I don’t go out that often. I came in politely declining nearly everything. Now, when I do go out, it’s a lot more fun (for me and for them).
Stop complaining about how much of your time is already spoken for and start figuring out a way to get it back.
It doesn’t have to be morning, but I’m sure you’ve got some minutes there.
It doesn’t have to be lunch, but I’m sure you can sneak away for a bit then.
It doesn’t have to be at midnight, but you can sure make progress when everyone else is sleeping.
Your hours of quiet are not going to appear suddenly, you have to fight for them. Win the Muse. Gain her respect.
And then speak into the silence.
UPDATE: This post has been so popular, I’ve included it in my book: The Creative’s Curse, which is now live for preorders. I would love if you got the kindle version while it’s only $2.99.
P.s. (I wouldn’t say no to you checking out my site as well ;)