Dirty Words and Missing Tableware


It’s getting to be summer again. The Small One’s last day of school is Thursday. And yeah, it’s a short summer this year and he’s getting old enough he can sometimes fend for himself for a bit.

I’m still looking down the barrel of eight weeks with deadlines (eheh. I said the dirty word) and virtually no work time. And in keeping with last week’s post from me that was all about being a real person, this time you’re getting another list. Hopefully, this one will actually be shorter.

So, here are my top five tips for dealing with a creative life when you’re running out of spoons.

1) It’s okay to fail. 

Obviously, try not to fail on the big things. Electricity and running water are kind of a must. If you’ve got a contract with a deadline try not to fail on that. But your personal blog? Yeah, it’s okay if that falls down once in a while. It’s okay if you skip doing the dishes once or twice. Nobody’s perfect.

2) Be honest.

Professional deadlines suck. I know this. They suck in literally every direction. I don’t hate them any less as the publisher than I do as the writer. Sometimes you’re going to miss them. If you’re going to miss them, tell the person this impacts as quickly as you can. Don’t avoid them. Don’t pretend everything is okay. Don’t make excuses. Be clear and concise and honest. And then staple your ass to the chair and get as close to it as you can.

3) Find the thing that refills your tanks.

Do you like to mainline your favorite TV show? Take a run? Window shop for an afternoon? It’s really important to still give yourself permission to do those things. Feeling creatively bereft doesn’t get better when you start stressing yourself out about how much you suck. At least it never does for me. Give yourself a mental health day. But then put your butt back in the chair.

4) Prioritize. 

Drafting the new project you really want to be doing is important, absolutely. But if you’re on contract for something and up against a deadline they’re not really going to care about all the great words you got in on other things. I think sometimes this is hard to do as an artist. It makes you start to feel like a hack. Swallow it. Better to be a hack who occasionally makes art than an artist who can’t hack it (to borrow shamelessly from Chuck Wendig).

5) Seriously, staple your ass to the chair.

Give yourself a goal. You have no idea what you’re capable of, until someone says they want a full revision in three days. Learn the way you work, and then push yourself. If this isn’t a hobby, if this is a thing you’re serious about then be serious about it. Put your ass in the chair and work. You and everybody you work with deserves for you to be a professional.

Yeah. I was telling myself all that just as much as I was telling you. But hey, maybe we can do it together, right? Drop me a line in the comments and tell me what you’re deadline is. We can commiserate. And come back Thursday and we’ll talk about having stupid expectations of yourself.

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