These last couple of weeks though, I have been cleaning house. Every year about this time I clean up the guest room, bathroom, and kitchen. And,
Every year around this time, my best friend, Scott comes over to stay with me for a few weeks as part of his book tour. He's a children's book author and illustrator and he gives presentations to kids. You can see his work at www.scottesutton.com.
So, why do I have to go overboard with all the house cleaning? Well, Scott has a kidney transplant. He needs his environment to be hyper-clean because all the medications he takes compromise his immune system. Which means there can't be any germs.
So, why am I telling you all this? Because I HATE house cleaning. And, yet, there I was on my hands and knees scrubbing grout. Certain aspects of being an artist are like scrubbing grout. You don't want to do it, but sometimes, you just have to.
Now, after I got all done scrubbing, steam cleaning, and disinfecting, that bathroom sparkled. So did the kitchen and the guest room. I found myself standing back to admire my handiwork. It was a really good feeling to see the results of my labor.
How does this translate to your career as an artist? Well, what are those things that you just hate to do? Taxes? Submitting your work to a gallery? Talking to customers at a show? Writing a business plan?
Give yourself a deadline.
Deadlines are wonderful things. They cause you to focus your attentions on what is really important. In my case, it was getting the house clean. I had to do it before Scott arrived. What about taxes? Well, there's a definite deadline there. (Yeah, I know, you can always file an extension. But wouldn't you rather have them done on time?)
What about other art related tasks? Try this: Put a date in your calendar. Write it down. Better yet, write it down on an index card in big bold letters and tape it to your bathroom mirror. "I will submit my portfolio to XYZ Gallery by April 1." Or, "I will come up with three responses to common customer questions by my next show on April 21 so that I will have an easier time talking to customers."
What are we doing here? These statements are not wishes that we will someday be granted. We are stating a goal, but not just any goal. We are stating a specific actionable task with a completion date. And, we can break it down into smaller, more easily completed tasks so the whole thing doesn't seem so overwhelming.
Here's an example for submitting work to a gallery:
1. "I will have professional photos taken of my recent work by March 15"
2. "I will review my photos and choose which ones to include in the portfolio by March 23"
3. "I will research XYZ Gallery's submission guidelines by March 24"
4. "I will write a my bio by March 27"
5. "I will write a cover letter by March 30"
6. "I will package my portfolio and mail it out by March 31"
There, wasn't that much better than saying, "Someday I am going to submit my work to a gallery."
So, here's my current goal and deadline, "I will submit my business taxes by March 14." So, what's one of your dreaded tasks?