I am an introvert and thus enjoy spending time by myself. I enjoy many things shared by introverts – reading, studying, writing, thinking, creating. Introverts are often good at knowing who they are and why they do what they do – because they have taken the time and found the solitude to examine their inner life and deal with what they find. As an ancient philosopher once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I totally agree.
As a result I have learned that I need to be intention about setting aside time on a regular basis for “solitude” and thus time to think, journal, read, and examine. Not only do I set aside time every morning for this, I also set aside a whole day each week. Some might call this a Sabbath. God would. I do! And then in the summer I take my ‘annual vacation’ and spend three weeks by myself camping and kayaking as far away from people and demands on my time as I can get. Three weeks to focus solely on reading, walking, thinking, praying, examining, creating….
Solitude is absolutely necessary if a person is to be and remain creative.
Creativity flourishes in solitude. For me it is essential. I believe that you will become as creative as the amount of time you set aside for it. As noted above, I try to schedule time every day as well as planning extended times weekly, monthly, and annually. There is a relationship between scheduling a time to be creative and being inspired to create.
I love the quote by Willian Faulkner: “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine a.m. sharp.”
Years ago a mentor taught me that if I do the right thing regardless of whether I feel any inspiration, then I will become inspired because I did the right thing. The key to increasing your creative capacity is to schedule time for it, and then expect to be more creative during that time. The discipline of developing the habit gives you the results you desire.
So, this morning and every morning, I schedule time to read, think, reflect, journal, and write. Minimal – I write a blog but most days I take notes and outline thoughts that eventually will direct my life and ministry and may even, one day, become part of a teaching. Every day I write, regardless.
My study is a separate room in my home – a large room filled with books I recently purchased and am reading. Older books are filed in several other rooms in the house in case I need something that is in them. In my study there is no telephone and my iPhone is not allowed in that room. The electronics I use to write and research do not have email or text programming in them. That is office work for later in the day and in a separate room – my office.
I have purposely created a study that is warm, comfortable, welcoming (there is a great coffee pot) and quiet. No one else is allowed in this room. It is my personal space. And, I look forward to time in that room each day. Creative time. My office (afternoon time) is often a mess of papers, messages, texts, emails, phone calls, and everything that comes with an active international ministry. And, after solitude time in the morning I am ready for the afternoon and evening and what they might throw at me.
What do you have to give that you can create only in solitude? If you are like me, you need time alone to think and create for yourself and others. That creative time of “retreat’ can give you the greatest return on investment in your life.
My observation is that most believers do not schedule enough creative thinking time alone. We are taught to do, to care, to pray, to minister, to reach out to others. We are usually not taught to be quiet and spend time alone in silence and solitude, stillness and in fellowship with the Spirit of the Living God.
Maybe it is time for a change.