July 22, 2010
Artists: How to stop hating your day job
"As an artist, I have always felt I was living two lives -- my 'day job life' and my 'real life' as an active artist....I thought until I 'made it' I didn't have a choice. 'Making it' meant fame, the ability to do art full-time, or both. Until then, I wasn't a real artist. As a result, I felt ashamed and invisible next to the full-time artists I idolized, and angry and invisible next to the people who enjoyed their jobs."
So writes Summer Pierre in the introduction of her new book, The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week. Tired of her day job getting in the way of her creative life, the admin by day/artist and writer by night sought ways to blend her artistic life with her 9-to-5 routine, which she playfully documents (complete with illustrations) in this inspiring book.
I asked Pierre to share her top tips for creative types frustrated by their day jobs. Here's what she had to say:
Arrive to work early or leave late. There's a reason you've heard this suggestion before: It works. Maybe it's the formality of sitting at a desk that doesn't belong to you, or maybe it's just the lack of flatscreen TV. Either way, arriving at your desk 30 to 60 minutes early (or lingering awhile after hours) can do wonders for your creative output.
Stop the TV insanity. Speaking of flatscreens, Pierre and I know you've also heard this chestnut before. But if you're watching "Top Model" or "Deadliest Catch" marathons and still lamenting the lack of time you have to compose, paint, sew, write, or jam, it's time to get your priorities straight -- or to admit that making time for your creative outlet may not be the priority you thought it was.
Stop holding out for that mythical year off. I know, I know. You're tired. You've had a hard week. Again. And anyway, devoting time to your art would be so much easier if only you could afford to take a year off. But as Pierre points out, "If you're not doing your art now in the life that you currently have, what will change later when circumstances change?" You're still going to have to get off the couch and walk over to your easel, notebook, or guitar. So why not start building that creative habit now? Then, if lo and behold, you do wind up taking those magical 365 days off, you'll be primed and ready to devote some substantial time to your craft.
Save 15 minutes a day for your art. Whether you're crunched for time, terrified to start, or a really accomplished procrastinator, reserving a quarter-hour for your art each day is the perfect antidote. "It's so small that often if you start doing it, you'll do it for longer," Pierre says. Besides, she adds, "You're more likely to do something every day than if you just tell yourself 'I'll do it on the weekend for an hour.'"
So what does all this have to do with resenting your day job any less? Try the above suggestions and then get back to me. I promise it will make a difference.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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