Creativity and The Worst Sentence Ever

“You have too much time on your hands” may be the worst reaction to any creative endeavor.

Today, we have greater ability to create new things than ever before. You can create fun albums with your photos, or even decorate your walls with them.  You can influence people on the other side of the world with your ideas.  You can learn the basics of a musical instrument or a language by watching instructional videos on your phone.  Companies are easier to start.

Yet, many people, when they see that you have set aside time to engage in a creative process of some sort, will say “you have too much time on your hands”.

I have heard this many times, and it never fails to annoy me.  When people say this to you, they are not making an observation about how you are spending your time, but making an excuse for how they aren’t spending theirs.  They are saying that you have not conformed to their narrow definition of productivity.

To be sure, there are those who spend all their time creating and none of it producing.  I’m not talking to them.  I’m talking to you.

The truth is this:  we all are busy. Yet amidst our hectic schedules lie small slices of time that we can fill up however we wish.  It is within those time slices that creativity can happen.

Why don’t some people create anything?  I think one reason is that we outsource creativity today to professionals.  We let the people in our iTunes library entertain us with music, rather than making any ourselves.  We read content and think “I could never write like that”, so we don’t.

But here is a powerful idea that empowers you to be creative right now:  while it is important to create, it is not necessary to be any good.

Make bad music.  Write bad poetry.  Dangle your modifiers.

To those who have been told they have too much time on their hands: don’t let the skeptics bring you down.

To those who say these words to others: stop immediately and find time in your own schedule to create something.

You are not a machine put on this earth to answer emails and watch television.

Be human.  Create something.


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  • Ellen Sauer

    So true, Michael. I have indeed been told that and at times believed it and even been hesitant to tell someone the truth when they ask me, “What did you do today?” I also recently read Seth’s blog about the skeptics and it resonated as well. Perhaps I’m in need of a few reminders this week, yes? Thanks for being one of them!

    Hope to meet you one day.

    • Michael E. Diamond

      Glad to hear it, Ellen! I believe that well-balanced people both produce and create. Both are important. Keep on creating.

  • Michael McBrien

    If we create something, we open ourselves up to criticism. I don’t like being criticized, or second guest, or questioned. It is so much easier to just get along, let those great ideas fall by the wayside, as we get on with our jobs to be done.. Great (creation) blog Michael, you challenge us to put ourselves out there, not only in the way we manage our time, but in the way we use our creative minds to make our world a more interesting place to be..

    • Michael E. Diamond

      Thanks Mike!

  • Land Surveyors United

    by far one of the most TRUTHFUL things I have read in I don’t know how long.. bravo!

    • Michael E. Diamond

      Thanks for the great comment, and feel free to share this post with others who may find themselves in the same boat. Much appreciated!