THE IMPORTANCE OF THE JOBS YOU HATE
Posted on January 09 2023
The beginning of the year felt like a great time to write this blog entry as we’re somewhat resigned to the fact we’re going to have to start doing things we don’t really FEEL like doing soon (as in now).
As creatives I think it’s easy to slip into the belief that being an artist means you just get to do whatever the heck you feel like all the time. But we all know deep down that this is not the path to a rewarding and productive practice- we just don’t want to admit it. It’s always a tough pill to swallow that a good percentage of the job of being an artist is doing the things that DO NOT light us up. Bookkeeping, admin, social media, TIDYING or even just the creative work that you know will pay the bills but you’re not super thrilled about doing. When I start fighting these jobs I like to reflect on parent/ child energy or adult/ child energy. Analysing it and figuring out why I’m pushing against problems often helps me diffuse the emotion behind it and then makes it easier to just get on with it- not always though. And if I'm still fighting it, it means I need to dig deeper to find the source of the block.
Parent/ child energy- The artist is the child. Irreverent, rebellious, spontaneous, moody, unpredictable, doesn’t finish things or clean up after themselves. These traits are INTEGRAL to having a thrilling practice. It’s like operating without your prefrontal cortex being fully formed. There’s no rationalising or having to make sense of anything. It’s just proper chaos and it’s what makes us feel alive.
Then there’s the parent or adult energy. This is the discipliner, the one that says “hey maybe if you tidy up your studio you won’t waste half your time looking for things and then you’ll have more time to paint.” The one that MAKES SENSE. Which is hard to listen to when you just want to act like a crazy person all the time. But they both have their place. All the things the adult says are true and you know it.
Maintaining a balance (which doesn’t necessarily mean 50/50) is what results in a productive and satisfying practice. I generally have pockets of being sensible. Often just a couple of hours. I pay bills, clean up, answer emails and book in jobs that I know will keep cash flow going. Often I take a bit of that adult energy into the creative process to execute said jobs. I set a goal and keep bringing myself back to it until it’s done. And always, ALWAYS there’s a sense of satisfaction in following through with something that I initially fought against. Those are the days where you feel like you’ve really earned that glass of wine. But you can’t do this all the time. You must have days of chaotic childlike creative energy to flush the sense out.
The jobs that you fight are the things in life that you learn from. We need adversity- ESPECIALLY artists. It's why we actually learn things when we study, even though we fight most of the structure and work. As an artist with a self regulated practice you need to be your own teacher and rule setter- aka be disciplined.
Again it comes back to being super present with yourself and your practice. Being aware of when you feel like you wouldn’t mind spending a couple of hours getting the boring bits done. Don’t try to attempt this when you REALLY don’t feel like it- it’s a losing battle. There’ll be a moment when you don’t feel like being super creative and can stomach the logistics. The sense of pride and satisfaction from completing your boring bits is wholesome and deep and makes your painting practice so much lighter and freer. It also helps to avoid the heaviness of shame that can be a real handbrake on your creative practice.
So tidy that studio and pay those bills! I'll do the same.