It feels strange that only yesterday I was sharing something on how to improve your artistic business.
It was full of tips and tricks on how to fully optimise the elements that are available to you. How to widen your audience and generate more sales.
And yet over the past week, I know I’ve fallen behind in the very things that I stress should be met. I think the reason why is probably obvious. Obvious for a lot of us. Because we’re all feeling it.
That horrible L word that is currently happening.
I’ve never written a piece strictly about the effects of the pandemic on my business. Because it would waste time and energy. People know what it’s like without me even needing to explain it. It sucks for all of us.
And now as I wake up, I feel that familiar worry curl up in my stomach. I tell myself that it’s normal. And natural. It never really seems to go away when you have your own business. And maybe that’s what makes us get up in the morning when we don’t want to and try again.
Because if we weren’t worried, stressed or anxious, then we wouldn’t care about it. I make myself go to the studio when I would like to take a day off and read a book. Even if all I do is sit in the chair for an hour and stare at a piece of paper. I know that I need to take a day off at some point and simply do nothing, but I’ve never had that ability to relax. I always feel guilty about not moving forward. I’m so scared about wasting time. And yet, I sit and stare at the blank piece of paper before me, time passing me by.
I want to create. I want to paint.
But my hand for some reason can’t bear to lift my pencil.
It’s called a creative burn out.
To get out of this, I try and mix up my days. I enjoy working on design campaigns with photoshop, designing merchandise for my shop. Other times I’ll simply paint watercolour backgrounds until an idea emerges. If I really need to let go, I’ll grab a canvas and let hell break loose with colours.
I think the point to this blog today, is don’t worry if you are lacking the energy to hit the points that I mentioned in my blog yesterday. Because I haven’t been hitting them myself. We’re all tired.
Each night I go to bed with so many ideas on how I can strengthen and expand my business. I know exactly what I need to do. Having the energy to implement these actions is another thing entirely.
My burn out is my own fault of course.
The reward for working all day in the studio, is writing at night. I split my days as a painter and author, and it feels very apt that I choose to paint bright and colourful things in the day and then hunch over my laptop twisting darkness, adventures and fantasy into words at night.
I love it. And I don’t mean that in the casual sense. I really and completely love it.
But I don’t finish until past 1am most nights.
I can’t sleep until I have hit my word count. And that’s not even a discipline thing. I have to pour all of the ideas in my head onto the screen. It’s addictive. Obsessive. And only when my brain is wrung dry of every single sentence that has been haunting my mind in the day, can I sleep.
I feel guilty if I go to bed and I haven’t wrestled every ounce of creativity from myself. And if I’ve had a bad day of productivity at the studio, I’ll take it out on my writing, demanding that I work harder and longer to make up for the morning and afternoon hours.
Hence my creative burn out.
But with lockdown, there can be no give. No days off. I can’t take any day for granted. I can’t assume I’ll have business every day of the week. I have to make it. Generate it. This means promotion, marketing and social media. This means creating new pieces. Updating the website. Designing new merchandise (which reminds me, check out my latest “Mama was a Punk,” collection on my shop) Dragging a business through a pandemic means finding smarter ways to meet and connect with your audience. Not take a day off from it.
This is what I tell myself.
And what I have outlined in my paragraph above isn’t what I would tell other people. I would tell others to take a day off. To be kind to themselves. To breathe. But it’s so strange how we rarely take our own advice, isn’t it? It’s like we’re our own pushy parents, demanding the best from ourselves at all times.
The fact is that I want my business to succeed more than I want to relax in bed with a face mask and a good book. I cannot waste a day. I have to move forward.
I have to survive.
Having the added stress of renovating a canal boat in the middle of Winter that relies on constant funding to see completion, makes me deny myself any days off. I’m due to move on near the end of November and there is so much to do and achieve to make her habitable to move on. There can be no delay. No pushing back the schedule.
So the bills continue to roll in and I continue to work.
And sadistically? I enjoy the thrill of being faced with a bill and throwing myself into action to work for the funds to pay it. I enjoy the rush of adrenaline. The sense of satisfaction when I reach those work targets.
Because I know I can do it. I won’t allow myself to fail.
And maybe that doesn’t sound very self-caring of myself, and I wouldn’t disagree with you if you said I needed to chill the hell out. But it is my current reality. My confession.
No rest for the wicked, eh?