Lately this topic has come up a lot between my friends and I so I wanted to take a minute to talk about it.
As a creative person and even just s a human being you will go through seasons. What do I mean by that? You know how you go through the seasons and there’s different energy and focus depending on the time of year... togetherness around the holiday season, goal setting at the turn of the new year, spring cleaning and exercising around this time of year in anticipation for summer vacations and then getting back to work as summer ends and kids head back to school.
We do all of this creatively as well. I think the 4 creative seasons are:
- Recognizing (observing, taking in and experiencing life)
- Responding (creating, writing songs, blogs, learning music and your instrument)
- Releasing (letting go emotionally of what you created and also marking what you made)
- Rest (whatever this one means to you so that your brain stops being on a hamster wheel)
Not every day, week, month or even year will find you writing music, learning new skills, doing lots of touring or doing a lot of work creating or release your music... or maybe it will if you’re really productive and are great at compartmentalizing or have some help.
I find that for most people, myself included, I make my biggest strides when I theme a whole day or week of my creative work around one aspect of my creative life. If I keep the focus on one thing and let other things slide I usually make bigger strides overall... and sometimes the thing I’m letting slide is the work itself and that time off is what I actually really need for the long haul.
It’s easy when you are a full-time artist to just keep going because there is always something to do but sometimes you need to rest or have an adventure or OD a little on a good book... errr... Netflix. ha!
In all seriousness, I’ve tried to set boundaries and declare that Mondays are my day off but it doesn’t really work like that for me. I just have had to learn to curb the self-talk that’s not supportive when I’m not having a “productive” day and remind myself that it’s part of the hustle to take a break. Sometimes I am a badass and I amaze myself with what I get done in a day, other days I am physically or emotionally tired and the work comes slower or not at all.
When I was studying classical voice, piano and violin there were times of rapid learning and times where I plateaued. It would feel like a slog and no matter how much I practiced it felt like I wasn’t really getting any better and might never improve before often having a big breakthrough. I think a creative life is like that, and it’s completely okay as long as you can resist punishing yourself on top of the lack of productivity and creative output.
Just give your 100% everyday and remember that doesn’t mean the same thing everyday. Sometimes your best one-day might look like more of a 50% on another day, and that’s totally okay.
One last thing, I’ve learned not to scatter my most productive time (usually the early part of the day for me) with mindless home tasks like doing laundry or dishes, vacuuming etc. or even responding to business emails. Those things can make you feel productive and give you a false sense of accomplishment but often distract from the work that really matters to you. It’s easy if you work from home to do those things when you first sit down and you should start on a more important project like your theme for the day. I recommend saving those more mindless tasks for a time when you aren’t naturally focused but still capable of that kind of work like the end of the day.
Painting at top by Shay Brown https://www.shaybrownart.com/