Friday, April 22, 2016

Recharging Your Creative Batteries

The other day I did something so rare that it was – sad to say - actually noteworthy. I took a break from work and went out to lunch with a friend on a weekday afternoon.

During lunch my friend Tanya, who is also a freelance designer and illustrator, was lamenting her lack of down time. “You know how it is,” she said, “if you’re not working on a project you’re thinking about your next project, or where you’re going to get your next project, or marketing on social media, or prepping a mailing to art directors, or meeting with clients, or doing your accounting, or any one of the myriad tasks that you, as the master of your own artistic ship, must complete daily.”


I understood completely – Tanya could have been talking about me. Don’t get me wrong – I love being a freelancer – but it isn’t always an easy life. There is no guaranteed income – and no income at all unless you hustle. You can get so caught up in the circus act of your life – juggling various jobs and deadlines and marketing – that you forget the most basic thing.

You forget to live.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we think that we can go and go and keep on going without a break and still be effective? We don’t expect our cars to run without fuel, or our bodies to work without food, or the lights to turn on if we don’t pay the electric bill. Yet we expect to be able to access our creativity at will – to call on it any time of the day or night – when we’ve done nothing to replenish it.

Sometimes we truly do need to step away from it all and take the time to gather inspiration and strength. Even if it feels counter-productive, we must make the effort to connect with friends, to take a walk, to go to a gallery, museum, a concert – or even just stare at the wall – so we can fill up our imaginations with new experiences, new sensations, new ideas that will replenish our creative wells.

I can hear you now – “But I don’t have time – I have deadlines!” I know, I know. But just try it. Even if you’re skeptical – even if you resist with all your might – just try it. I think you’ll be surprised to find that you’ll function more effectively, your ideas will be fresher, and you'll look at your work once again as a source of joy instead of a burden that you must endure if you’re going to survive.

A balanced life is a full life - and one worth living!