For years, I told myself the story that I couldn’t make a living as an artist of any kind – not as a musician or a writer and certainly not as a visual artist. It simply wasn’t done, nor was I ‘good enough’. Instead, I worked many jobs – going from data entry clerk all the way to manager of a territory for a big corporation over the span of some twenty years. I learned many skills during my ‘regular’ career: how to manage my time, how to manage my money, how to manage my emotions and how to be the best in my chosen field.
Now that I am pursuing a different kind of career – one which includes all of my creative abilities – I’m finding myself struggling with the old ideas of success and achievement. You see, working in creative endeavors doesn’t always lend itself to a 9 to 5 work day, nor can it necessarily be broken down into tasks that fit neatly into one’s Day Timer. Trying to schedule one’s inspiration seems to create more angst than art! Still, having structure and routine seem almost a requirement to keep the creative mind from going straight off the tracks and getting nothing accomplished whatsoever.
This redefining of one’s world is tricky business and I’m not altogether certain I have it worked out just yet, but here are a few things I’ve learned:
- Keeping a journal is a must. There will be days and sometimes even weeks when you feel as if you haven’t accomplished squat. It’s nice to be able to look back on the days you’ve been wildly successful, experienced an ‘ah-ha’ moment, made meaningful progress, finished a project or just dreamed up a new one.
- Don’t get out the cat-o-nine-tails if you find yourself in a slump. It happens to everyone. If possible, try to reframe your negative thoughts into something positive, or at least, give yourself credit for recognizing them for what they are. Sit and observe them for a while. Who knows? There may be a work of art hiding in those thoughts. See if you can write it down, draw it, sing about it or dance it. Whatever your art form, sometimes you can move through your emotions by embodying them in your work. Sometimes, you just have to walk away and do something entirely different (as evidenced by the big pot of vegetable stew simmering on my stove).
- Celebrate your successes, progress, and lessons – even the ones learned the hard way. All of them will contribute to your ultimate success.
- Crying – even the ugly cry – is sometimes a necessary release and often provides a nice clean canvas on which to work the next day.
- Never forget the one “must do” daily task: be grateful. Gratitude is what it’s all about. It is imperative to our health – both physical and mental – and informs who we are both as artists and as human beings. And last, but certainly not least;
- You ARE good enough!