The Five-Minute Muse: Creativity for Busy People

By Molly Anderson | Posted 10/4/05 | Updated 8/16/23

I'm a writer and artist living in Durango, Colorado. Like many people in this tourist-ridden mountain town, I survive by working several different jobs. With a packed schedule, it is not always easy to spend hours writing, painting, and daydreaming, but I still manage to create something new every day.

I have become an expert at carving out tiny bits of time from even the most hectic day for my creative work. This is simpler than you might think; even five minutes is enough time to write a poem or make a quick sketch.

In order to begin doing creative work regularly, you must be prepared to work when inspiration strikes. This takes a little forethought. First, you must determine when and where you are usually visited by the Muses, for you must have the correct supplies at hand when you need them. If you commonly get great ideas right before you go to sleep, keep a small blank book and pen beside the bed. Does inspiration strike while you're driving? Keep a tiny tape recorder and blank tapes in the glove box, so you can record your thoughts with both hands on the wheel.

I am always on the go, so I usually carry a journal in my purse, along with some art supplies and pens. Making a portable Creativity Kit is easy and fun. First, find a book bag, a purse, even a kids' lunchbox — anything you can carry easily. Fill it with art supplies: a journal, pens, crayons, a paint box, glue, stickers, clay… use your imagination! Try taking it along with you everywhere through the course of a day. When you find yourself with an extra minute or two, use the time creatively.

If you say you don't have any time for creativity, you are wrong. Upon hearing this excuse from potential artists, my first question is, "Do you have a TV?" If so, turn it off — or better yet, throw it out the window! Create something fabulous instead of zoning out in front of "Desperate Housewives." Try this — you'll thank me later.

Quick Projects for Creative Souls

I have designed some quick projects for artists, writers, and other creative souls. My projects for writers can be completed in five to ten minutes. You need a journal or notebook to work in, and a fast pen that can keep up with your Muse! While writing, don't worry about spelling, grammar, or punctuation — you can find time later to edit your work. Just allow your pen to roam wild over the dusky savannahs of the page, playing with words and ideas.

  • Go for a walk, and write about what you see.
  • People-watch and create a quick verbal sketch of someone interesting.
  • Steal lists of words from street signs, magazines, headlines, and graffiti. Rearrange them to make a poem or short story.
  • Design a bumper-sticker.
  • Write a haiku, using the first seventeen syllables that pop into your mind.
  • Write down all the jokes you know and invent some new ones.

I have also developed a few quick projects for visual artists. Most of these projects can be started and completed in ten to fifteen minutes. You will need paper, paints, crayons or pastels, and a pair of wide-open eyes.

  • Create an abstract self-portrait.
  • People-watch, and then draw a caricature or cartoon.
  • Take a walk and collect leaves, stones, flowers, and anything else that catches your eye. Use them to make a collage.
  • Cut out words from your journal. Add photos, stickers, etc. and create a collage.
  • Mix a new color in your paint-box, one that represents the way you are feeling. Use it to paint words, animals, or abstract weird shapes in your journal instead of writing about your emotions.

Now that you have the tools, the time, and the inspiration to create, I wish you luck and joy in your creative journey. May you wander and wonder the world. May you belly-dance with the Muses. May you create something amazing every day — no matter how busy you are!

©2005 by Molly Anderson. All rights reserved.

Rain GoddessMolly Anderson is a a highly creative writer and artist from Durango, Colorado.