Artists will contact us every once in a while telling us they have no time to create art. Between house chores, work, and taking care of someone else’s needs, they find themselves at odds with what they want. They explain how they feel guilty even thinking about taking creative time. That guilt is compounded when the people around them think that creating art doesn’t matter. This guilt and perception can add a lot of undue stress which will lead to less creating.
It’s funny to me that the perception exists in the world that says that artists don’t do anything important. Some people believe that our lives are stuffed with unicorn farts and rainbow ice cream. It’s been an insane couple of years for us. We’ve had a few large art exhibitions, commissions, power outages, bad weather, art studio closures, moving across the country, and don’t even get me started on water leaks or plumbing. We’ve also dealt with butt hurt friends, rejection, financial struggles, and all other manner of emotionally draining events. Things always felt worse when I didn’t give myself the space to create.
I’ll be honest, as much as I hate to admit it, some of it has been stressful. Not because things go wrong. That’s just life. We all know that the shit will hit the fan at some point just to keep us on our toes.
No, it’s not the events or circumstances that happen in life that bring me stress. In actuality, it is the crap that goes on in my brain that stresses me out. It’s the excuses I use to not create or do what I want. Klee and I do a lot of stuff that we consider fun. We make art, jewelry, film videos, play music, design t-shirts, manage an online community of awesome rogue artists, write books, and record podcasts. We do whatever we think will be fun. We also do all the things that people consider not as much fun. Things like managing our business, yard work, house repairs, and other domestic arts (as one of the Rogues called it). Add to that all the different components that come with life, relationship, home, and work, and it can all feel overwhelming.
However, it’s just life. It’s every moment. And moments are precious. But, art is what allows me to process it all.
One thing I like to remind myself of is that overwhelm is not what is going on around you, but what you think your role is in what is happening. Honestly, it is reminding yourself that you can just walk away or say no. It’s easy to feel like things would fall apart without you, but trust me, things probably feel like they’re falling apart anyhow.
On the flipside, it is also ok to say yes. It’s also ok to say you don’t want to do something any more… I mean, it’s your life, you get to choose how you want to live it.
Now, if you do happen to do a million things, and can’t find time for what you want, here are some best practices for you that I have learned the hard way.
STAY POSITIVE AND CREATE
Don’t get wrapped up in the humble brag that you are the busiest person in the world. It is easy to exclaim to the world that you are the busiest human on the planet. I’m not saying you are not, but constantly repeating that mantra for yourself can have some bad results. Tell yourself that you have a choice on how you decide to spend your time. You may make a lot of excuses on why you can’t find time to create when you are wrapped up in your drama, but there is always time if you decide there is. Even 30 minutes of creating is better than no minutes.
HAVE SOME KIND OF PLAN
I hate planning things. I hate schedules. I hate when a past version of me writes something down telling me I need to do something. Why didn’t he do it? That being said, when you are juggling a lot, it is important to make a plan and space it out. Honestly, each day should have no more than four large tasks. If you have more than that, you will run yourself into the ground. However, plan the things you want to do and make it sacred. That means that NO ONE has the right to guilt you out of your plans. It is not selfish for you to want to create, it is selfish of others to monopolize your time and keep you from doing what you want in life.
DON’T JUST SAY YES
It’s ok to say no. You gotta take care of yourself. Also, if you can’t finish something in time, just get it done when you can. Don’t kill yourself to finish it. People might expect things and it might be time to introduce them to a word that they may have not heard from you yet.
THE DISHES CAN WAIT
Honestly, when it comes to doing dishes or creating art, art will win every time. Also, if there are more than one of you in your household, it might be time for other people to pitch in and ease up time for you.
COMPLETE AT LEAST 1 THING A DAY
You can be busy all day, from phone calls to finalizing a large project. However, forming the habit of working on art every day is important. Try to complete something, It doesn’t matter what it is, it can be a quick sketch, just give yourself a sense of completion.
FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME
People out there love to say that they are great at multitasking. They are full of it. The brain isn’t designed for that. You can jump between projects when you are at a standstill, but even then, shift your thinking and focus on what is in front of you. This is why meditation is important, because it helps you build that focusing muscle. Also, have a space that will not be interrupted with other things.
MAKE IT ALL FUN
Bring your creativity back. At the end of the day, It should all be fun. Why not? Sometimes, you won’t be able to work on art, and that is ok if you are used to giving yourself that creative time. This weekend we have a lot on our plate. I will be doing my first book fair at the Oil City Library from 10-2PM, then heading to Graffiti Gallery and sitting our show from 2-6PM. This is followed by a friend’s birthday party. Meanwhile, we have a million things that we are juggling at home. It is easy to forget that it is all delicious if you feel like a martyr. When you take control and give yourself time for what you want, you remember that you have a choice. It’s easy to use excuses for why you “HAVE” to do something, but at the end of the day, it is our choice. You will feel better making time for other people and stuff if you make time for yourself when you want it.
TELL SOME PEOPLE TO BACK OFF
People can get really used to you being the one who takes care of everything. Humans are habitual creatures and whenever something happens often, it is easy for it to become the norm. I’ve even experienced people feeling entitled and getting mad at me because I didn’t want to hang out due to my art. Either put people like that in their place or get rid of them.
I’m going to say something very grim sounding but it was important for me to hear when I was killing myself with overwhelm.
“The world will keep going if YOU are not around cleaning up messes and juggling a million things. The people who rely on you would figure it out one way or another.”
If you are stretching yourself too thin, it might be time to reevaluate. This might require you to tell someone you are no longer going to do something for them. It’s hard, but you have to take care of you before you take care of someone else’s needs, or else you are useless to them and yourself.
So, take care of yourself.