When the school year is in session, many of us find that we don't have much time to spend on our hobbies. When we return to the routine of hundreds of pages of required reading, jobs, and, hopefully, social lives, the time we'd normally allocate to personal reading, writing, or art seems to evaporate. Although we may not always have the time to fully immerse ourselves in our personal creative projects, there are still ways to actively exercise creative initiative in college, even if just for the sake of self care.

1. Make a portfolio of inspiration.

Whether you connect creatively with words, images, or sounds, there's often some way to collect inspiration over time. Whether your goal is to plan towards a greater project or simply to motivate yourself to succeed, doing this is always fun. One thing I find inspiring is to write down quotes, song lyrics, or literary passages I like in a blank notebook. I like to write using colorful markers and make little doodles around the words in a way that makes me happy. What this type of thing looks will vary- it could be a pin board (physical or digital), an ongoing list, or, really, anything you want it to be.

2. Take artsy elective classes.

Most universities offer a variety of elective classes in the arts. If you happen to have extra room in your academic schedule, it may be worthwhile to take a class in dance, art, drama, film, or music. These classes are fun, challenging, and will give you a deeper understanding and appreciation of both the arts in general and of your own creative process.

3. Take steps toward a larger project you’ll complete when you have more time.

Love to make collages but don't have time to work on them during the school year? Collect and organize pictures and scraps over time to use when you finally have some down time. Want to write a novel or play? Keep an ongoing document of ideas for scenes, characters, titles, or passages. Add to it whenever inspiration hits. Doing something like this will keep you thinking about what projects you'd like to do in the future and give you something fun to look forward to.

4. Make your creative endeavors part of your extracurricular resume.

If the word "hobby" irks you and you would prefer to have something to show for your creative endeavors, or if you simply want to meet a larger demographic of other creative people, start a student organization based around your interests! This will give you a chance to lead and collaborate with others while focusing on your own goals-- creative and professional.

5. Have your friends hold you accountable.

If you'd like to set aside a substantial block of time for your writing, artwork, or performance art, finding friends who will hold you accountable (and vice versa) is a great way to ensure you're staying productive. This could entail setting aside time to get together and work on projects, giving and receiving feedback on one another's work, or checking in on one another's progress.

Whether you're working on a long term creative project or just want to have some fun, hopefully, these tips will help you stay creative, inspired, and motivated amidst the craziness of a college schedule. Best of luck!