I just started a new job, and I feel so overwhelmed. I’m so tired when I come home at night. I have some projects I started, like needlework and beading, and I don’t have any more time to do them. I don’t know when I’ll get to them again. I just can’t seem to get my energy up to work on them. You’re a writer. Do you have any suggestions for how I can take care of my creative life?
Need More Hours in the Day
Dear Need More Hours in the Day,
You don’t mention how long you’ve been at this new job? If it’s less than 6 months, please give yourself a break. Starting a new job is a big transition. You’re working hard showing up in a new place, meeting different people, getting to know their personalities, and the systems of communication and authority in the office. All that before you even get down to work! No wonder you are so tired at night. I suggest you give yourself a window on your creative pursuits until at least the 6-month mark. Your mind and body are attending to lower levels on the hierarchy of needs. As your rest and strength return, you’ll have more energy to give to your creative life. Try not to feel guilty for hitting pause on those projects.
Julia Cameron writes in The Artist’s Way that we fantasize that there is such a thing as “good creative time,” in which time is abundant for us to “frolic in creatively.” The truth is, “no such bolts of limitless time exist for most of us. Our days are chopped into segments, and if we are to be creative we must learn to use the limited time we have.”
I’ve discovered, when I do carve out that precious time, I have more energy and I’m more productive. What began as something I didn’t have time for becomes the essential activity to do meet the tasks of the day. If I’m honest with myself I know I can carve out a few minutes every day to nurture my creative self. I bet some days are better than others for you. Move with the energy you have, on any given day. It will change from day to day.
Once you have your bearings at your new job, you can revisit Julia Cameron’s observation. She invites us to look for the creative opportunities within the circumstances of our lives. No matter where we are, if we have an eye toward creativity and seeking inspiration, we will find it. So, perhaps there are ways your new job environment can give your creative spirit a boost, even if it’s not directly related to your specific needlework or beading. It might be through taking a walk or listening to music on your break. I highly recommend her book. She champions artists of every kind—and we are all artists—no matter what activity pays the bills.
I’d love to be a writer, but real life gets in the way. I have been writing for quite a while. I have been published online and have a blog, but between my day job and the kids, I don’t publish as often as I should. I need to contribute an income to my family, but when I get stressed, I can’t focus on writing. Advice? How to balance reality of paying bills while pursuing my real interest?
Fit to Print
All writers share your dilemma!
The most important thing about writing is to keep writing. It’s easy to set it aside to focus on “more important” things, like taking care of the family. We think we’ll write better if we’re not so stressed. The truth is, writing is part of the process of life. It needs to be a priority and to be attended to on a regular basis. Find a slot of time every day to write, and then fiercely protect that time. You may need to get up a little earlier or stay up later, but the personal gratification will more than compensate.
Next, keep submitting material anywhere you can get published. Being a writer in the internet era is very tough because so much content is free. We end up giving away way more stuff than we would have in the old days of publications with paid advertising. That model has been smashed by the internet…note the decline in newspapers. Here’s one writer’s take on the situation.The good news is that you can communicate directly with your readers. You might try this site: http://www.freedomwithwriting.com/ for paid writing opportunities.
Building your writing gig takes time, and you need some income in the near term. Perhaps part-time opportunities, like substitute teaching, a librarian, or in the field of an avocation, like at a craft store or book store or restaurant could provide some income without full time hours? Many a writer has worked other jobs while pursuing their craft. The key is to keep at it. My best successes have come through steady attention to my work. When I get discouraged and hide from the world, I lose what momentum I had. Hang in there, and good luck!
Dear Readers: In a quandary? Life got you down? Need some perspective? If you’d like to submit a question, click here. I look forward to hearing from you, or “for a friend.” Please add your thoughts, and suggestions in the comments section, below.
Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist. This column, its author, and the publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity, and all comments are moderated.