Friday, March 18, 2016

3 Ways to Stand Your Ground Artistically

post by Michelle Griep
Mom:
"Oh, you're writing? Then you're not doing anything. I need to go to Walgreens. Now."

Friend:
"Sheesh. You can write later. Come on. Live in the now and let's do coffee."

Husband:
"Could you run to Home Depot and pick up the whatchamacallit I ordered. Oh yeah, and then stop by the post office and mail that box for me. Hey, what's for dinner when I get home?"

Sooner or later, or mostly all the freaking time, artists have to deal with the What-You're-Doing-Isn't-Really-a-Job Syndrome. It's something non-creatives just don't get because . . . well . . . what artists do looks like fun and surely whatever is fun can't be a for-real job, right?

Wrong-oh, Bucko. Believe it or not, some people actually do make money dreaming up and writing stories. Others paint "pretty pictures" and make a killing. Singing, acting, dancing, these are not just hobbies for some people. They're actually careers. But there's a definite disconnect with those who have "normal" jobs -- and therein lies the problem. How do artists stand their ground without feeling like a pretend productive citizen of the realm?

3 Ways to Stand Your Ground Artistically

Communicate
Verbalize that what you do is what you do. It's not a whim. It's not a passing fad. It's your job. It's how you pay the bills. You don't sit in a cubicle but that doesn't mean what you're doing is any less valid than someone else who does. It's up to you, artist, to communicate that to the world.

Set Boundaries
Schedule your "working" time (be it sitting by a lake brainstorming or stretching out at a gym) then call it that -- work -- in your mind. Lawyers don't walk out on a client when they've scheduled an appointment. Your appointments are every bit as important. Don't give in to peer pressure to drop what you're doing.

Self-Respect
If you're a writer, call yourself a writer. If you dance, tell you and the world that you're a dancer. If you don't take yourself seriously, why should anyone else? You don't have to apologize for doing what you love to do. You don't have to feel guilty. Embrace your art and stand proud.

These sound easy to do but whoa baby, is this ever a hard road to walk. You will fail sometimes, cave in to the occasional coffee date or stutter when someone asks your profession. Two steps forward, one step back is still progress. Stand your ground, artist. Stand your ground.

2 comments:

Jeremy Gustafson said...

Michelle, what a much-needed reminder. I schedule my writing time every week, but so often it gets overwritten in my calendar by the tyranny of the urgent, or by well-meaning and loving friends who say "I never see you" (even though we saw each other last week). I've found that while setting the boundaries is easy, *keeping* them is hard! Thank you for the validation that *it's okay* to set, and keep, those appointments with myself.

Michelle Griep said...

Stay strong, buddy. You got this.

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