How to Be Creative When You’re Busy

NCWA welcomes Joe Bunting from The Write Practice in a series of writing prompts.

 This post contains excerpts from Joe’s e-book. See links following post to obtain the complete version.


…Sir Ken Robinson said: “The arts especially address the idea of aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak, when you’re present in the current moment, when you’re fully alive.”

The ever-present enemy of this is busyness. Today is a busy day. I have to wash and iron my white shirt. I need to make an emergency run to the cleaners to get my suit pressed for an event tonight (yes, I realize I should have done this earlier).

My wife is stressed. I’m stressed. We’ll be running around like busy fools today. A trip to the dry cleaner is not the stuff of literature, and it’s impossible to create anything interesting in a rushed state of mind. However, these busy days often have the most potential for stories to spawn from them, and if you’re paying attention, you can capture them no matter how busy you are. Here are a few tricks I use to write when I’m busy:

1. Carry writing tools with you

On the day of my wedding, I found a napkin…and sat on a couch to write out my thoughts and a few key images (like the half-dozen bees circling those beautiful purple flowers right next to the chairs where our guests would sit, or the thin crescent of the moon just peaking above the pines and poplars).

2. If completely rushed, use your phone as a notepad.
If you have a fancy phone, it probably has an app that you can use to jot down a few notes. However, my phone is stupid, so when I have an idea for my novel or for my other writing projects, I just send a text to myself.

3. Find moments to escape.
No matter how rushed the day is, there are always a few minutes here or there. (Confession: In emergencies I’ve excused myself for a long trip to the “bathroom” to get some notes on paper.)

4. Choose to take advantage of downtime.
Most busy days are of the “hurry up and wait” variety. Once I ran through Budapest to catch a train, only to find out it didn’t leave for six hours. So what did I do? I sat down on the gumstained cement ground inside Budapest’s beautifully run-down train station and wrote.

There are always moments to write. You just have to be disciplined enough to take advantage of them when they appear.

5. Practice the art of haiku.
One reader…suggested writing haiku, a form of poetry invented in Japan consisting of one five-syllable line, one seven-syllable line, and one five-syllable line. It’s short, and thus perfect for the rushed writer (you can even publish your haikus on Twitter).

6. Wake up to the day.
To be an artist of any kind you must make a commitment to consistently “wake up” to the present throughout the day. You have a busy day ahead of you. Tomorrow will be busy. The next day will be busy. There is no alternative but to wake up, to write right now, to recreate your crazy busy life and the crazy busy lives of others into art.

Discussion Question: Have you been present today? What do you do to “wake up”?
The Prompt
Reflect on your busy day and on the present moment. Write about it.


Excerpts and writing prompt from Joe Bunting’s e-book,

14 Prompts, available by clicking on the link.


Joe Bunting is the founder of  The Write Practice. He loves the sound of a good sentence and would like to think of himself as a literary snob but can be kept up far too late by a page turner meant for thirteen year old girls. He would like for you not to know that though. He and his wife, Talia, enjoy playing backgammon and Angry Birds on her iPhone. Click here to view his website.


One thought on “How to Be Creative When You’re Busy

  1. Pingback: This Week’s Top 10 Poetic Picks

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