Today's Post is by Lori Woodward Simons, Regular contributing writer for
Why is it that I don't have to put effort into establishing bad habits while gearing up for good habits takes every ounce of self-control I can muster up?
Balancing Freedom with Flexibility
As an artist, I have a maximum of freedom and flexibility with my time, and this is one of the things that makes being a professional artist a joy, but at the same time it creates a war within me. The daily struggle to choose the right thing to do for the advancement of my artwork is ever present. If I am to succeed and produce lots of incredible artwork – thereby making a living at it, I'm going to need a great deal of self-discipline in order to overcome my natural inclination to treat my life as a vacation.
When I worked for someone else, I didn't need much self discipline because someone else was arranging my schedule and tasks. Either I did what I was supposed to do or I'd get fired. As an artist, I mistakenly believe the lie that I can goof off and yet succeed. Nothing is further from the truth. Even though wasting time doesn't seem to cause me immediate pain, the truth is I am headed for disaster. Furthermore, because I have a spouse who makes the bulk of the household income, there isn't even the incentive to feed myself or pay bills.
I believe that in order to establish good working habits, the reality of failure needs to feel real and imminent. I need to scare myself into a regimented schedule – just as though I were working for someone else and believe that there are consequences when I don't take my work time seriously.
In order to scare myself with the facts, I make a list or imagine what will happen in the near future if I fail to practice good work habits. The first and most obvious result is that I will lose self-confidence as I delay my working at the easel. Secondly, I will lack having enough paintings ready for opportunities that crop up – and they do crop up when I least expect it! Most importantly, not having paintings means that they will not exist for folks to buy and enjoy for a lifetime. I must not lose sight of how my artwork brings beauty and moments of joy into the lives of others.
One Routine Does Not Fit All
Succeeding as an artist is such a complex pursuit – I can hardly even touch on what it takes in the context of one blog. We are individuals and have unique challenges. Folks who are not artists may think we have an easy life. I admit that running a business as a professional artist has been my biggest career challenge. Even so, I would not chose any other career... it truly is a labor of love, and will stay that way if I indeed establish and practice good working habits.
“EACH DAY I MUST DO SOMETHING, NO MATTER HOW SMALL, TO MOVE AHEAD WITH MY ART”. That means painting even when it's not going well. It means hanging in there and resolving difficult problems, starting a painting over, setting time aside to study and copy old masters, wasting paint with practicing, and ultimately becoming my personal best.