Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
– Gustave Flaubert
In the first installment, the idea of the “starving artist” as a prerequisite to success was debunked. Now, to dispense with another artist-way-of-life fallacy – not everyone needs to be a personality like Andy Warhol. In fact, most successful artists are not. They commit to regular hours, they work hard, they socialize in moderation and they prioritize the work. Because when it boils down to it, that’s what it’s all about, right?
Think about what you can simplify in your life. What can you take out? What can you say no to? It helps to know what your goals are because then you can check each upcoming opportunity, and only say yes to the ones that will get you closer to them. But this also applies to social and family engagements; it may be hard at first to extricate yourself, and yes, people may get mad at you. Hopefully, as your work improves, they will come around. It may also sound boring to create this “regular and orderly” lifestyle, but take your extra time and energy and put it into the work, seek out the “violent and original.” You may be pleasantly surprised.
GUARD YOUR BEST TIME
Be selfish and safeguard your best time. When you can, schedule meetings, classes and studio visits at your low-energy times. Save your high-energy times of day for creating. For example, if you are more energized in the morning, do your own work then, and request to teach only afternoon or evening classes. If you’re not sure when your “best time” is for a specific activity, check out the self-evaluation quizzes in Chapter 7 of Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern, which help you determine which activities are draining versus energizing, and at which times of day.
FORM NEW HABITS
We live in an age and in a society that promises everything at the click of a button. The world is literally at our fingertips. And yet. Do we get more satisfaction? No; worse – it creates major FOMO (fear of missing out). But it doesn’t have to. Technology does not have to drive our lives; we can choose to turn it off or disengage.
Here’s a challenge: try taking email and social media apps off your phone for a week. Commit to only checking it on your computer twice a day – once in the morning, once at night. Notice how much time you free up, and how you feel.
Now form a new habit around this feeling of freedom. It doesn’t have to be drastic; perhaps simply turn the notifications off. Or buy a clock (remember those?) and leave your phone in another room when you go to bed, resisting the urge to check it before you go to sleep or first thing in the morning. Choose your level of engagement with the digital world, and form a new habit around it.
This is the second installment in Self-Care for Artists; click here to read Part 1: Wear Sunscreen.
Christine Rasmussen’s oil paintings explore themes of boundaries, belonging and femininity. Christine describes herself as a ‘global nomad’ – she was born to American parents in Pakistan, and has lived in 13 cities across Pakistan, Vietnam and the United States. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Art Practice (with Honors) and Peace & Conflict Studies. Her works are in private collections in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia. Christine is now based in Los Angeles, CA, where she enjoys art, books and blogs.