Cirque du Soleil?


Every Friday I write the 20 Minute Club Minutes–because using a timer for what I call the 20 Minute Technique can keep your creative momentum going in your busy, time-crunched life–20 minutes at a pop.

Please join in and share your 20 Minute Experiences in the Comments–good/bad, it’s all fair game, because sharing your experiences about the process is a great way to increase your creativity.


Creative Problem Solving

Developing my kits requires lots of creativity–from making the actual samples to sequencing the video, to figuring out cute but affordable packaging.

And teaching a technique on a video is not really the same as teaching it in person. I do things in a different order and sometimes have to leave things out that I would mention in person, etc.

Oh, and the re-shooting.

Did I mention having to hold myself in lots of awkward positions as I try to both shoot the video and demonstrate at the same time?

I see that I didn’t.

Well, this involves lots of standing in awkward (but creative!) contortionist poses as I wrap my body around the camera tripod so that you can see my hands clearly in front of the camera while trying to press the “record” button with my nose.

Really someone should make a video of that.

Cirque du Soleil here I come.

My Trusty Steed

Throughout my kit-making this summer, the timer has been my trusty steed.

Because I like some steps in these projects much more than others. So I need some structured support to see me through the hard stuff.

When I use the timer, I give my struggle parameters. (Parameters = Structured Support.)

This is a critical piece of why the timer idea works.

I don’t have to work on my beloved video forever all day–just an hour, or a half hour or 20 minutes–or whatever I can manage right then.

This makes it all feel much more do-able. (And assuaging your feelings is what’s key here.)

Doing this almost always leads to another hour or half hour or 20 minutes because really what I needed was a little jump start.

On the days that it doesn’t lead to another round, it’s all still good because I’ve moved my project forward anyway.

Because the timer helps make sure I get something done instead of nothing done.

Did you get your timer yet?


Appreciating yourself is an important part of the 20 Minute Club because it helps you keep your creative momentum going.

Carving out the time to create is important of course, but it’s not enough. Getting (and eventually staying) on your own side is a critical factor for helping you take bigger risks with your work, get yourself out of a creative rut, or just enjoy the process more.

Taking the time to remember to appreciate yourself and all your efforts (big or small, creative or not) is a powerful way to make this happen.

Here are my five self-appreciations for this week:

1. I appreciate that I went to The Met yesterday and continued to fulfill my promise to myself to look at art once a week. (I’m kind of blown away by how much doing this weekly helps me “refill the well.”) I visited the Chinese Garden Court, The Big Bambu Rooftop exhibit, and looked at a lot of gorgeous ancient pottery.

2. I appreciate the work I’m doing to release some very unhelpful belief patterns about being responsible for other people’s happiness as I try to help family members make some hard adjustments in their lives.

3. I appreciate that the work I’m doing on #2 is slowly working. :-)

4. I appreciate that my faith in the helpfulness of the Creative Breakthroughs Collage Teleclass just increases more and more every week that I teach it. That feels fantastic.

5. I appreciate how much the Collage Tele-class helps my own art making and creates a weekly space for my own creative growth. It feels cool to have my teaching and my making be so aligned and symbiotic.

Your Turn

How was your creative week this week? Are you busy gearing up for September? Still vacationing? Immersed in your creativity and feeling fabulous? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

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  1. Carol J. says:

    Hi Sarah. I just wanted you to know that I just this moment read, then printed out, the quote from Martha Graham. It is unbelievably liberating and simple…it is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you, thank you.

    Many times I ask myself that question…why bother? Here is my answer. Carol

  2. R.M. Koske says:

    Just finished my 20 minutes. Well, more than 20, don’t know how much. And I moved three projects along, including one that I started a year ago.

    At first I set the timer and did a super-easy task (punching holes in paper) while half-way reading on the web. I finished the holes and got absorbed in my reading and then the timer went off. Although avoiding creating is a valid part of doing 20 minutes, I’m really hesitant to call that a successful 20 minutes. I wasn’t avoiding the creating, I forgot I was creating. I’m liberal in what counts for 20 minutes, but I that’s just not something that I can count. *grin*

    I wanted to do a bit more. I thought at first, “I don’t have the time to finish something today.” What I really meant was I don’t have the energy – I’ve got perhaps a half hour or hour of energy for this and in that time I couldn’t finish. I should say energy instead of time when I talk to myself. Finding low-energy tasks will be easier than finding projects I’m sure I can finish quickly. And in the long run it will be more satisfying. (And, see, there’s something I learned in my 20 minutes that I didn’t know or see until just now, explaining it. Sharing makes a difference!)

    Anyway. When I heard myself say I couldn’t finish a project today, I remembered that I’m actually happier with my creating when I do it in fairly short bursts, rather than a long start-to-finish session. So I got out the most-accessible project (both easiest to physically reach and also the one that I needed the least brainpower on), set myself up, and started working at it. (I didn’t set a timer because I knew I’d be more than 20 minutes so it didn’t seem necessary.)

    I noticed that I didn’t resent or feel overwhelmed by the setup and breakdown of my work space. It’s nice out, so I took a folding table and an electric fan and all my tools outside (after digging the ruler and the cutting mat and the Xacto from their hidey holes). I made myself some ice water and carried that out. I had to come back inside because I forgot my pen. It probably took me five or six trips out to be ready to begin and almost as many to bring it all back inside. Yet I don’t sew (which is my first creative love) because I have to set the machine on the table, open the case and plug it in. There is definitely something going on there, and if I can figure out what it is, I might be able to fix it and sew more.

    So it was a very good 20 minutes session. I learned something and found something to watch. And got a little creating done, too. :)

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