Monday, November 23, 2015

The Challenge of Becoming Successful at Having a Creative Life, Part 2

The thing, of course, is to make yourself alive. Most people remain all of their lives in a stupor. The point of being an artist is that you may live.[1]

—Sherwood Anderson.

In Part 1, I overviewed some of the challenges that I have encountered as a creative person to having a successful artistic lifestyle. I listed a number of specific roadblocks that may impede your progress, and in this article series, I will explore these challenges with the hope of providing a loose framework for success! 

My favorite part of the above quote by Sherwood Anderson is the final sentence, “The point of being an artist is that you may live.” This statement captures the real essence of this blog, my personal goals in life, and challenges us to reexamine our own lives, to ask ourselves the question: “Are we living, I don’t mean surviving, anyone can do that, but are you living? Are you enjoying living your life?” 

I do not claim to have all the answers that deep question, nor can I say finding that answer is a 12 step program, but I am excited to share my experiences with you all in the hopes that you find greater joy through artistic expressions—that you will LIVE your life!  

A Brief List of Challenges to an Artistic Lifestyle

Here are the challenges listed again:

·      Money
·      Time Management
·      Over-scheduling
·      Lack of Planning
·      Anxiety  

·      General Laziness
·      Procrastination
·      Fear of Failure
·      Self-Doubt
·      Low Self Esteem


An Average Day of My Creative Life

I typically wake up around 6:30pm to the ringing alarm of my wife’s phone, not a time I particularly care for being a night person, but one that I have adjusted to over a lifetime of rising early. From a young age, my father would wake us up to eat breakfast and start our chores at 6am: feed the chickens, water the garden, clean the house from the night before, breakfast dishes and start school between 8am-9am (I was homeschooled).

Now my wife works at a bank about 20-25 minutes from our house, and I have traded chickens for assembling her breakfast and lunch for the day, starting morning tea for her, coffee for me, and getting her out the door. Being a commercial bank teller is a rewarding career, but one that requires early arrival, sometimes as early as 7am to begin their day.

Once she has left, I usually browse the internet and wake up—eat breakfast, read several news sites, watch Youtube videos of other artists that I follow. My thoughts shift to artistic work around 9am, and I will begin sketching out my plan for the day, this varies depending on the day in question, but usually I will start setting up my work area for my projects around 9:30am. On Saturdays and Sundays, I do not work on my creative projects as much, combination of giving morning piano lessons, my wife being home, church… perhaps I will make some progress in the afternoon if I feel particularly inspired. Mondays also are different, my errand day, where I take the car for the day (we only have one vehicle right now), drop my wife off at work and go grocery shopping etc. So, in reality, my peak artistic workdays are Tuesday through Fridays.

Creative Stuff

If you follow this blog you will know that I divide my time between, video content creation, video audio recording (painting commentary as in my mini-series with in-depth instruction on How to Paint my Cloudy River Painting), video editing, photography, painting, drawing, composing music, practicing piano, writing my blog posts—such as the one you are reading right now, finding photos for blog posts, editing the writing, compiling all or some of the above into a post, and streamlining blog content design. In addition to all of this, I run a piano studio, which includes it own website, advertisement needs, the actual lessons themselves and scheduling.

I will work each day at a changing combination of the above activities until 1pm, stop and eat lunch, complete my daily household maintenance chores, and then will either resume work until 5pm or stop and begin teaching piano lessons at 2pm-7pm.  My wife and I usually will eat dinner together at home, late as you can imagine, and then will play a board game or watch Netflix and go to bed to start again!

Things to Note

I will point out that in all of this, I do not have a particular order or overall structure. If I find that if I am really on a roll creatively, I may have lunch later in the day if I can, or I will work on only one of the above projects. When I am not feeling quite as inspired, I can then work on the less “artistic” portions of the above activities (editing, networking, sharing my posts on several media platforms…), but still feel accomplished, because everything on the list are creative outlets for me, bringing me great joy in my life, and are ways for me to meaningfully participate in my society by inspiring others to also enjoy their life through creativity.

Here are a few tips and hints that I can draw from my typical day:

·      I do not need to accomplish everything each day, just to make progress on one to several of my ongoing projects.
·      I do not try to plan minute to minute, but in blocks of time (now a block may only be 15 minutes or it may be 3 hours – use what time you have).
·       I do not label the time: this project (10 minutes) then that project: just artistic time overall.
·      I work on what I want to work on that day, keeping in mind the following goals.
·      I have the loose goal of two blog posts, more if I feel inspired, and a new video for my Youtube Channel of Impulsive Artistry each week. 
·      Due to my personality, if you haven’t figured it out – a creative dreamer, I like to work in short energized bursts. Within my blocks, I may take 10 minute breaks, clear my head, walk around, pet the cats, or call someone, and then get back to work.
·      Don’t procrastinate: working a little bit every day is more effective then not at all. Waiting to the last minute on things will always result in poor quality craftsmanship, and will lower you self-confidence. I am speaking to myself as much you readers, but this point is so important, particularly with the ease of entertainment through the Internet at your fingertips every day.

I find this system to be effective for me; it covers three of the challenges to a creative lifestyle:

1.    Time Management
2.    Over-scheduling
3.    Lack of Planning

I know that everyone is different, so please find what works for you. Even if you have a busy life with kids and a 9-5 job, take a little time for yourself, trying a new creative project can be very rewarding and can give you a renewed energy for the other aspects of your life.

In Part 3 of this series of articles, I will be discussing the challenges of: Money, Anxiety, Fear of Failure, and Self-Doubt and Low-Self Esteem.
Thank you for reading, please don’t forget to share this post with your friends on Facebook, comment below and share some of the artistic projects you are working on or if you have any questions you would like to ask me. 

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[1] Dorie McCullough Lawson, compiler, Posterity—Letters of Great Americans to their Children (New York: Broadway Books, 2004), 85. 

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