“Staying in your own home can be corrosive and stifling, especially for creative work. The surroundings can smother you with the baggage of your past and the History of You.” – Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking
It’s intolerable to not be making art right now. It’s equally intolerable to be in the studio this week. A conundrum that an artist is not allowed to express. A true artist would power through a creative block because art is their life. Not hide in fear of strange paralyzing emotional forces.
Working from home makes the “powering through” part more difficult. I can’t leave the studio and go home to mull things over. I can’t just ignore the deadlines or my mini polar bear puppet friends when they’re suspended in time… waiting until I play with them again.
My home studio has been directly in my bedroom, in common living spaces, and a separate guest room/shared studio place over the years. I’ve hit the creativity block many times and have handled it in all the wrong ways. Here are some strategies that have helped me break through.
1. Deliberately power through. I’ll make a nice breakfast, shower, and then be in the studio. Commit to my eight-hour workday. Tidy it up first. Get rid of the extraneous mess to clear my mind. Then take baby steps. Make a one item to do list. Do it. Pat myself on the back. And do it all over again.
2. Succumb to the paralysis. It gets pretty dark and maybe I’ll pick up a journal and start writing furiously in it. Or curl up in a ball with fever dreams. Sometimes the most innovative problem solving comes from the darkest places. It may take a while but I’ll eventually get back in the swing of things. I’m grateful for the sadness when it finally passes.
3. Think of all the $$$ you’re saving. One day you and I will be famous and rich and have studios all over the world. But in the mean time, it’s ok to be scrappy. We’re learning all the life lessons. And when we finally do get that studio we’ll be so grateful for it.
4. Don’t binge watch. Netflix is the worst. They only give me 15 seconds to come out of my complacent grog and summon the strength to stop the next episode from playing. Netflix has never helped me out of a funk, it only indulged the dark voice in my head that says I’m a lazy and terrible artist. I like to go for a walk outside instead.
5. Talk to someone. It’s hard to admit when I’m having a problem. I don’t recognize it or even admit it to myself. I don’t want to look like a failure or a bad artist. But putting words to my feelings and sharing them with someone I love puts the situation in perspective. Always.
All of this is easier said than done, of course. Listen to your body, your art, and try to figure out what works for you. Good luck!