It was obvious, but it took talking to someone else to realize it. If you want to do something, you need to do it.
Like so much advice, it is so simple. Yet so difficult.
But I’m doing it. I'm increasing my output, creating more space so I can find more stars.
My first step in this journey is spending a bit of time in the morning, outside, doing a quick sketch, before logging in to work and write.
Today, as I trolled the bottom of my bag for supplies, I realized I only had a pen and a highlighter.
Yes, a highlighter works. But why not give myself the tools to do better?
In fact, why am I not fully supplied for my freelancing, too? A better camera? Why not. Upgrade my computer? Yup, it’s time. I need to give myself the right tools for the job. Like any good business, the needed tools have to be budgeted in.
Because here I am, talking about making stuff, dreaming about making stuff, and obsessing about my freelancing. Yet, I’m heading out to do a drawing with a purse filled with a lipgloss, a highlighter, and a phone. Then I return to an office that is functional, but in need of upgrades.
I think my personal output (and my desire for tools) waned as I chased paid gigs. I felt flat, and that dullness lingered, because I wasn’t doing the work that nurtured me. You have to do the work that makes you good at what you do. Does that make sense?
When I’m being creative, I’m primed to give my clients the best writing and imagery possible.
And here’s the cool part: Now that I’ve been taking some time for myself, to draw and write stories, I’m happier. I’m more productive. Plus, I’ve had more client work come my way than I have in months.
So, my advice to myself (and to anyone reading) is don’t chase the dollars. They’ll come. Truly, they will.
Go easy on yourself. Do what you love. And get yourself the right tools for the job.
A friend of mine always says yes to work. If a project knock on his door, he takes it. He takes the work if he’s overbooked. He takes the work if he hasn’t seen his family. He does the work on little to no sleep.
I’m not sure this is a good idea.
This is mulling in my mind as I’ve gotten two offers this week I’m hesitant to accept. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be asked. But I’m also grateful to be in a position where I have enough work that I can say no to projects that aren’t the right match.
Work is work, it’s not a party, but at the same time you have to spend your time doing the things you love. Doing work that fills you up.
I’m learning that busy and productive don’t mean the same thing. Being productive, working on projects I believe in and learn from, helps me grow. I can be busy and not productive. Busy can take all of your time without much reward. What you do right now has an impact, why not spend your time on what matters to you?
So, I’m going to turn these projects down. And simply typing those words is a relief. I’ll have more time to do the work that matters to me. Goals and dreams are worth fighting for, so do the work that will get you there. Right?
There is nothing wrong with the projects themselves, they just aren't the right fit for me right now. Even if I would have been thrilled to be asked a while ago, I’m not thrilled now. So I’ll pass. Hopefully someone else will be thrilled when their email chimes with the prospect.
Time is valuable. Remember that, and use it wisely.
**Photo from a beach walk. Glad I took the time to take it!
After I dropped off my daughter at school, I had to stay in the spring sunshine a bit longer. When you live in Chicago, you learn to embrace sunny, warm weather when you can.
On our walk to school, I was talking about the power of practice. How you improve with effort, even if a skill doesn't come easy at first. Advice, I realized, that I should heed. My drawing skills are rusty and I miss having notebooks filled with sketches. So, armed with my own practice speech, I opted to stop for a cup of coffee and put my advice to work (while soaking in some sun).
Yes, I'm writing every day (have to, need to) but that doesn't mean I can't do some drawing, too.
I let this project go a long time ago, but I've decided it's time to finish it.
Drawing is something I think about doing a lot, but haven't been doing nearly enough of. If I want to improve, the best path is to do more drawing...I think.
More to come!
Just picked up three comics I'd never heard of, thanks to Free Comic Book Day.
This spring tradition—also known as a marketing push, if you are looking at it through another lens—is an opportunity to sample new works and mingle with others fans of art, storytelling, and illustration.
I highly recommend participating in Free Comic Book Day if you are interested in the form, curious about pop culture, or are simply looking for something new to do. Last year, I picked up a Riverdale comic, which led to me watching the show, which led to this post: 3 Things I Learned from Riverdale.
Plus, you can see a browsing stormtrooper! (I must admit, I couldn't help thinking about how hot it must be in the suit.)
This morning, writing in my journal, I realized I’m writing the same story over and over again. Thinking about that, I remembered an interview I read with Paul Auster, where he shares a similar idea. So, I leaned over to my bookshelf, found The Art of Hunger and sure enough, there it is:
“Like it or not, all my books seem to revolve around the same set of questions, the same human dilemmas. Writing is no longer an act of free will for me, it’s a matter of survival. An image surges up inside me, and after a time I begin to feel cornered by it, to feel that I have no choice but to embrace it. A book starts to take shape after a series of such encounters.”
I’ve never written a book. Do I want to write a book?
I have my work writing, which takes up most of my time, but there is story that has been creeping in to my private writing. It shows up, goes away, slowly seeps back in. It is taking over my journal entries. I see the characters in people on the street, thoughts of how it could be constructed pass through my mind as I walk the neighborhood.
So, I’m writing it.
Will it ever be a published story? Who knows. Will it be good? Impossible to say. The truth is, I’m not at that point yet. What’s important right now? Writing.
Mali Anderson is a Chicago-based content creator. She creates blog posts, web copy, original photography, and feature articles.