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Write your recipe for creativity.

I bought myself a five-year journal for my birthday this year, back in April. It gives a question a day with a few lines to jot a brief answer, with enough spaces to cover that question on that particular day for five years.

Wednesday’s question is that above instruction about creativity. I thought for a moment. Considered all the things I needed … the things I thought I needed … the things that were nice and completely unnecessary. And came up with a simple lil equation:

Time + ideas

Do I NEED an ENTIRE free day to indulge myself? Of course not. It’s nice. It’s idyllic. But if all I have is 25 minutes to edit a page in my book or scribble down the first graph in a short story, or even to bullet point some ideas floating about, I’ll take it.

Do I NEED a peaceful spot, free of distractions and full of beautiful scenery? Nope. Do I imagine I’d craft great stories if (no … WHEN) I get to write on a balcony overlooking a European city with cobblestone walkways and the kind of view in the distance I’ve only seen thus far on a computer screen? I do. But I can do it just fine at my kitchen table, staring at the bunnies eating my grass.

My husband shared a story he’d heard from a friend about a woman he knew who finally decided to write her book. So she quit her six-figure job to Just Write! thinking she’d finally have the time and the stamina to succeed. And, a year later, she had nada to show for it.

I’ve never understood why so many seem to have this ideal setup to Get Things Done. As though by freeing oneself of all distractions and surrounding oneself by peace and muse-ful things, then we can unlock our Next Great Idea. But if you can’t get at that idea in your regular life, you can’t very well coax it out by tricking it.

See, I got rid of the boss who stressed me out. The kids who nag are at Grandma’s for the weekend. My honey’s out with friends and won’t be home until tomorrow. It’s a nice, rainy day, so the sunshine can’t tempt me. I minimized Google Chrome and turned off my phone and TV, so I’m distraction-free. Let’s do this, darling!

Sure, it sounds great. But if that’s what it takes to be creative, every single dang time, that’s not allowing much time for anything else, is it? You can’t very well shut yourself off from life every time you want to get down a thought.

But if you have some time, even a little bit, and an idea, even a small one, and you Just Do It, well, isn’t that the whole point?

What’s your recipe for creativity? What works best for you?