Clock in, make art, and clock out. In a career landscape where nothing is predictable or stable, discipline is the only thing creative people have control over. From your clients to your coworkers to industry trends to emerging technology, being an artist in the modern world can be a daunting quest. Particularly for those creators who work out of their homes. Boundaries don’t exist. How do you know where you end and the work begins?
REVERSE CURFEW — A time based boundary to build discipline as a remote worker
How do you wield the little control your have around you creative habit? Pressfield, the patron saint of blue collar creativity, writes that the difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. Back in the analog days when the economy relied on blue collar muscle to build the modern world, he writes in his essay, steelworkers gave everything they had to get that work done. In three shifts, twenty four hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year, hard hatted men with lunch pails swinging from their gnarled hands passed through mill gates. Isn’t there an earnest and empowering nostalgia about that ethos? It’s the kind of mindset every creative person can hold while they do their daily work.
This was a huge struggle for me. Let me take you back in time to my origin story as an entrepreneur for a moment. When I first started my publishing company, I moved back in with my parents. It seemed like a brilliant way to save money as my enterprise got off the ground, plus a surefire repellent against any attractive female who would potentially sleep with me. Whatever, we all suffer for our art. However, the one skill that I honed during that three year period was my discipline. My standing order each morning was to be out the door by seven. Off to the neighborhood coffee shop for journaling, reading, writing, chattering with some local folks, and of course, pumpkin scones. This ritual did wonders for my creative habit. It made me feel like a professional. Treating the coffee shop as a reverse curfew emboldened me with a sense of maturity to offset the fact that I was still sleeping the same bedroom I used when I was nine. By the time I was ready to move into my own place, the seed of discipline had blossomed into a full blown flower of dedication. And it still nourishes me today.
Even if creative people didn’t punch their time cards every time they came and went, just having this object in your studio would remind you that being a professional artist is a real job just like anything else, and deserves to be treated as such. How do you professionalize your creative practice?
Professionalize your creative practice
Create ambient pressure to trick yourself into action
Use internal and external constructs to motivate yourself
Establish a sense of place and a sequence of rituals.