You’re a creative and a free agent. You get to choose your own projects and make your own schedule. Sounds amazing! Roll in the self-doubt, avoidance and isolation that come with working on a solo project. As I am reminded daily, forging your own path can be mentally and physically challenging. I’ve recently begun my own journey into the uncertain land of self-employment. I hope to address some common creativity-snagging threads as I encounter them and share my solutions with you.
For the past year I have worked within the confines of my day job, side-hustling to build the foundations of an art business and prepare for the day when I could fulfill my long-deferred dream of being a full-time artist. That day finally arrived and the first thing that hit me was the lack of structure. No office, no regular hours, no manager checking in on my progress. It’s so easy to get side-tracked, or spend hours on the fun parts of the business while ignoring the tough ones. In order to address these potential obstacles, I have devised a couple of tactics to keep myself focused.
1.) Create a sense of urgency: Most projects don’t start generating cash flow right away, however it’s imperative that I move into that phase as quickly as possible… because you know, bills and all. By taking stock of my resources and costs, I’ve chosen a reasonable and set amount of time to devote to my project. If I’m not covering expenses by then, it’s back to the side-hustle phase. This self-imposed deadline has me rushing to get everything done. It motivates me to get up early and choose how I spend my time carefully.
2.) Share your goals. If you don’t tell anyone about your work, they’ll never know if you don’t follow through, right? This is a recipe for failure because it gives you an out. I have found that being forthright about my projects gives me an external reason for following through. For example, I wanted to write a monthly artist newsletter to stay connected with collectors and build excitement around my work. It’s a side project with no real timeline in place. To push myself I went ahead and posted a newsletter sign-up on social media before it was even written. Once followers were expecting the newsletter, I felt compelled to get it out quickly and was rewarded by the response I got. It takes courage to share goals publically but in doing so I’ve made my network my accountabilibuddy.
A self-imposed timeline and inciting external pressure through transparency keeps me on track. I’d love to hear your tools for staying on schedule. Please leave your thoughts in the comments. Next week I’ll dive into the importance of building a productive work-flow.
And remember “all procrastination is fear” -Elizabeth Gilberts.