The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” – Henry David Thoreau
You know the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.” You marketed, you mailed, you contacted. Now you have all of these deadlines looming and you are overwhelmed. You get worried, you aren’t motivated, and ideas are not coming. So you work later and harder. Welcome to the world of an art slave.
This is not where you want to be as an artist. After all, one of the reasons we love being an artist is the freedom that we have. But, if you are not disciplined, an art career can be just like any other job: stressful, mindless, paycheck motivated!
Be an artist- not an art slave. Find a ritual that works for you. Stay connected to the river of ideas…your inner voice…your muse. Whatever you choose to call it, art is a spiritual process. If you aren’t cultivating a relationship to creativity, you probably won’t have one when you need it. Here are a few tips that work for many artists I know, including myself. The only problem is: you have to do them every day to make them work.
1. Get up happy. Say some affirmations. Get rid of the negative chatter in your head-that voice that says things like, “I’m not coming up with any good ideas. I’ll never make this deadline. I’ll never be good enough to do this job.” Instead, train that voice to say something positive. Reprogram yourself. “I am illustrating books that people love. I am happy with my art. My career is going great. I am a successful artist…” This might sound too simple, and you’ve probably heard it before from the self –help gurus. Have you ever actually tried it….consistently over a few months?
2. Exercise and stay healthy. This is not an option. When you feel healthy, you are more open and ideas come more quickly.
3. Sit quietly each day, do yoga, or meditate. Get calm and peaceful so that when the ideas come, you actually realize they are there. Worry, anger, fear, and other emotions actually block the ability to grasp those sparks of imagination.
4. Create a place and time to be at work. This is important if you are working at home. Your mind needs to understand, “I am now at work. I will now be creative.” So sharpen your pencils, put on music, sit before your drawing table and begin.
5. Don’t talk too much about your ideas; this depletes some of the magic. On a subconscious level, your wonderful idea has become a real thing in the world. It’s not real, and it won’t be, until you do it. So, instead of sharing your magnificent thoughts, go make the work happen.
6. Take time outs doing something you love. Go to a museum. Sit by a lake. Walk through the woods. You must replenish yourself. Fill the well. Don’t view this as goofing off…this time is very important.
7. Don’t be a workaholic. This is difficult, because you won’t know it, until it’s too late. Your friends and family will know it before you will. ONLY YOU CAN CONTROL THIS. Be the work police and set your own boundaries. Make a contract with yourself. “I do not wok on Tuesday and Sunday. I go on vacation without my work. I have lunch with a friend on Friday every week. I only work from 9am to 2pm.“ Put up a sign. Remind yourself that you are free to set your own schedule. Work as late or as little or as early as you want, but make sure you’re enjoying the pace.
Remember, somebody you know will be published before you or more often than you. They will be more successful. They will sell more books. They will get more speaking engagements. You think you will never make it. You won’t…unless you stop working so hard to catch up. Find your own pace. Find your own style. Do what works for you. Be patient. Change happens in incremental ways. When you consciously make these daily choices, you will see a big difference in your life over time…and you will be balanced enough to notice!
I transcribed this. Not sure where my friend got it. But feel free to add any of your own tips. I don't follow this everyday. But maybe I'd experience less burnout and enjoy the work more if I did. Having a good work ethic is great. But Balancing that is def important......I'm workin on it.