Control Freak (Or... Is It Really So Bad To Waste Time?)
I see you've set aside a block of time. You've locked the doors. You got a sitter. You are ready to get some work done.
Any minute now.
INT - Artistic Space
The ARTIST stands poised, tools at the ready, staring at blank canvas.
Hesitating, she draws a couple of lines, lightly marking the page.
She steps back and looks at it.
Dissatisfied, she paints over her 2 lines. Then checks her phone.
Why is it so fucking hard to get our work done once we have finally carved out some space for it?
For me, I think the answer is expectations.
When you are a student, it's totally ok to fuck around, to make shitty art, you are a student right? You carved out that time from partying or took a day off of your shitty job.
But now, you are taking time away from your FAMILY. If you work a non artistic job (even a shitty one) that time off is money that can't go to the needs of your kid, your spouse, or your aging parents.
Whether we say it or not, there is a certain element in our psyche that says "You are taking time away from IMPORTANT things to do this. It better be fucking good.
This is not a great space to be making art from. The noise of capitalism sneaks in and tells you that if this thing doesn't make you a lot of money, or fame, etc. , you wasted that time.
Who makes things just to make things anymore?
All of this speaks to many deep seated issues prevalent with so many artists.
We all need fucking therapy about it, and I am not qualified to give it.
Artists need to learn to validate themselves through the practice of making work, to not compare, and just enjoy the power of being a creative being.
But if you have years of thoughts going contrary to that, I doubt a blog post will change it.
That's fine. In the mean time, pragmatically; making something will feel better than making nothing. So here is a band aid / workaround.
Try to set your goals in terms of time.
"I will sit at my desk and type for 20 minutes after I drop the kids off"
But this may still be too much pressure, so I would like to steal an Idea from Neil Gaiman. In a recent interview he said that during his writing time, he goes to his space (a gazebo, if I recall) and has to sit there for the allotted time. He does not have to write, but he is not allowed to do anything else.
in this world of productivity and multitasking, it's easy to say "Well, writing ain't gonna happen right now, so I might as well X"
Kind of like an insomniac checking their phone when sleep doesn't come easily.
This is probably the wrong approach. In the urge to be productive, we end up working on minor tasks instead of the important ones because the important ones take time.
So sit with your work. Be bored. But dedicate that time to working and nothing else.
Try it and see what happens.
Thanks for the work you do,
PS I'd love to hear if this works for you, or if you have other productivity Ideas in the comments.