I have spent a lot of time and energy expounding on the fact that Christmas doesn’t suck. In fact, I just wrote a book about it. You can see it here. There are loads of wonderful things about the festive season; a great variety of calorific hot beverages, music, angelic-faced children dressed as random animals, and lots and lots of naughty things to eat. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is great.
Except when you’re a self-employed creative.
Well, I say that, maybe it’s just me, but the energy with which I pursue my usual leads, teach kids, write books, promote and learn seems to have been sapped. Pretty much all I want to do at the moment is watch boxsets, sleep and go to the gym. Sadly no-one will pay me for this. And the one thing I am quite happy to still do (write books) doesn’t quite pay enough so that I can stop working (yet, always think ‘yet’).
So what options do we have to counteract the darkening days and cold winter blues?
Yes, perhaps watching that boxset is inspirational. Maybe reading books just for fun, or trying out new TV shows, watching documentaries is all research. You may be enjoying it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful in some way.
ADAPT YOUR LIFE, NOT YOUR WORK
So this is a realisation I had in my little slump. If I stop my usual work, I make less money. But if I sacrifice my usual work AND some of the stupid stuff I spend that money on, I’m actually no worse off, I’m at an even keel. If there’s some work you actually can’t force yourself to do, or see the point of, then just counteract for losing the money and adapt your life. As creatives we spend so much time trying to get work that turning it down seems ridiculous. But if it’s making you miserable or ill, then sometimes you get to a point where sacrificing your morning latte instead of having to do that work is appropriate, or even, good for your health.
Self-employed creatives are notorious at working too many hours. If you compare yourself to your 9-5 counterparts, I bet you’ll find you work a lot more than they do. Sometimes our systems demand a reboot. Get some exercise, get some sleep, and turn off your phone!
DO IT FOR THE LOVE
Remember why you went into the arts? Sometimes we get really far from that original starting point, and sometimes that’s good, but sometimes we can feel like we’ve lost our way. Why not spend some time thinking about how you want your life to look, and start to play again?
Hope that gave you some food for thought. Or at least stops you feeling guilty about being a lazy creative! I know I do. The next few weeks will be busy for me, where I’m running a Creative Careers development day for writers, in Watford. This is open to 6th form students interested in working in the arts/studying writing at university. Then I’m out in Wiltshire at the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives to teach a writing workshop around the theme of celebration!
My book, Driving Home for Christmas is doing well in the charts, and I’ve submitted my next one to my publisher. I’m now working on a project a lot of you will be excited to hear about- a novel based on my blog Cafe Disaster! I’ve been waiting to write this book for quite a while, so I’m eager to hear what you all think.