Week 2C: World’s Best Time Wasters for Artists

dali_memoryIt’s not just artists, freelancers and small business startups that suffer bastardization in this society. Anybody stepping out of the herd is wandering into the sights of the wolves. I don’t just mean wicked people out to destroy you, or even societal assumptions and ignorance. Remember the little demon and angel on everyone’s shoulder, fighting inside each of us for possession of our souls? Which one wins? The one you help.

The expectations we have of ourselves are intense. We’re ambitious, because creative people always are, it’s a strength. We’d rarely expect these standards of anyone else. We’d never be so hard, so unforgiving, or so unreasonable with another human being we loved. Sure, the passion, joy, energy and pleasure you take from doing the things you truly love make you superhuman sometimes. It’s awesome. But that’s no reason to add the weight of unreal expectations and unsympathetic beatings when you sometimes don’t walk on water. Lose the guilt. It serves no purpose. Like worry, fear, complaining and otherwise generally being a Negative Nancy. Insert new favorite zen-ism here: Let go or be dragged.

So, no more guilt. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. “Waste” some time doing those things that make living la vida loca actually livable.

1. Eating and sleeping. You should eat every three hours. You should sleep for seven or eight. This must happen daily or you get crabbypants and you make stupid decisions, argue with your friends and loved ones and generally slow down. And your work loses quality.

2. Cleaning and organizing. If you can’t find the right brush, it is permissible to drop everything and reorganize the workstation. Calculate the honest waste of time that is you running around looking for the next ink cartridge and equate it to a nice spring cleaning. One is much more productive and rewarding.

3. Daydreaming. This is where ideas come from. Let’s be honest though, that’s not the same as Facebooking, YouTubing, reading your email or otherwise putting your brain in front of a screen-saver. If you’re a screenwriter you can watch a movie. Musicians can go to concerts. I draw the line there. Don’t argue. If it starts with “B-b-but-” it’s b-b-bull.

4. Debriefing. That thing you were supposed to do that you didn’t, the one you didn’t put on the schedule. Do it. Put it on the schedule. I am a walking cluster of napkins, business cards, receipts, notes, doodles and combinations thereof stuffed into my jeans and/or purse. At the end of the day I have to dig all that out and do something with it or I might as well just put it through the washer and mulch it into lint. I call it my “pocket debriefing” and if I didn’t schedule a little wiggle room to organize the junk drawer of my mind, I’d be a wreck.

5. Building your platform. Soon it will be permissible to visit favorite blogs, sites, channels, tweets and honest-to-god 3D real world places and hang out. Manage contacts. Sound off. Put in your two cents. This is like a savings account that will one day provide amazing dividends. Not the same as cute quotes and kitten pictures, but better. You’ll see.

6. Stretching. You need to drop everything and do this every two or three hours max. It’s actually a mandatory OSHA requirement. Get up, pace, wiggle, stretch. FACT: It’s illegal not to. And to not do so is punishable by way of stiff muscles, carpel tunnel syndrome, varicose veins and a big fat butt.

7. Stuff you hate to do. It’s not a waste of time. Taxes and paying bills are not a waste of time. They are important. Take out the garbage. Wash behind your ears. Do the dishes. Don’t be a big baby.

HOMEWORK: Waste Some Time

Think about how you waste time. Is it a waste? What activities are bad for you? What activities feed your artistic soul? It’s time to be honest about your dirty little secrets, AND stop kicking your own ass about things that you actually need to be doing. I actually give myself a hard time about eating and sleeping. Turns out I would die if I didn’t do those things. So I guess they’re important.

Write two lists: one of bad habits to break, and one of good habits to encourage. Don’t always trust that first impulse to judge it good or bad. Really think about it. Swap with your study buddy and see if you think of any more. Any brilliant realizations? Post a picture or comment about it on the event page. Share the magic.

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