I know the saying usually goes, “Life imitates art” but it also affects art. I’m sure you will agree that there have been many times when you have come home, tired from a long day at work, when the thought of anything but bunny slippers, television and a comfy chair almost leaves you screaming. If you’re like me, on those days creativity goes out the window.
Then there are days where everything goes right and you can’t wait to dig into your current project. In either case, it is your life that is determining your creativity.
When I was younger, I was a voracious reader. It never occurred to me that I might enjoy writing until a classmate of mine showed me a book he was creating. That set me off on the writing path which I followed until college.
College had new demands that put a full stop to both reading and writing. I had to be grown up and get ready for the bigger world. There was no time for my own personal creativity. But a few years in the working world forced me back into writing. I had no creative outlets. Work was stifling me. In retrospect, if I had enjoyed my job more, I may not have come back to writing at all. At least, not as soon as I did.
Life (and work) conspired to get me writing again.
I remember the first time I was laid off. Of course, my first priority was to find another job. I also had the thought in the back of my mind that this could be a period of unparalleled creativity; I could get LOTS of writing done and conceivably get my first publishing contract.
In cases that that, things rarely go as planned. I sent out hundreds of resumes and job applications. At first, I wrote every day. And then, as the days became weeks and the weeks, months, my writing dried up. It was harder and harder to have the positive frame of mind I needed to get any writing done. When I did write, it was dark and brooding and not anything I wanted to share.
Once again, life affecting art.
I have been pretty effective managing my time to allow for writing when my mood is positive. Not so successful when it isn’t. I have no doubt that is no different for anyone out there.
I have become very goal-oriented because I have found that concrete goals keep the writing going regardless of my frame-of-mind. But, I always have to temper my goals with a strong situational awareness. If work needs more attention, writing takes a back seat. When my family and home needs more attention, writing takes a back seat. That isn’t because I’m not committed to my writing; far from it. It is simply the understanding that writing doesn’t (yet) pay the bills or keep my family (and therefore my life) on an even keel.
No doubt that will eventually change as I have more and more books available to my readers (the work part, not the family one), but for now I have to keep my priorities straight. Family, food and shelter first. Creativity second.
Life will always affect my art. Understanding that is an important step. It allows me to prioritize things and use good strategies to cope with the many demands on my time. And it allows me to continue my writing and not beat myself up when things get in the way.