August 2, 2011

I've learned a lot about creative work since becoming an artist. It's definitely different from your typical 9 to 5 job, of which I've had many. It's not a way of working that you're ever taught, so I've had to figure it out myself. The 9 to 5 model does not fit most creatives I know, and there's a reason for this, beyond the stereotypical sentiment "oh they just can't/don't want to conform, etc." That's kind of a bunch of bs, in my opinion. I think many creatives wish their lives did fit the mainstream model to a greater degree, if only because it would be far easier in terms of societal expectation and result in much less misunderstanding from those around them. But the reality is, creative work has its own cycles and rhythms. One characteristic of those rhythms, which I find true for myself, is the tremendous amount of energy that is required. When I focus on creating or writing something, I expend intense mental and emotional energy towards whatever the task is. It is a very concentrated energy, much like the intensity in a laser beam. This kind of intensity is sharp and powerful, but cannot be sustained 24/7. It's like you need to focus it, then recharge it, focus it, then recharge, etc. A 9 to 5 model of work is more sustained and constant in energy expenditure. Of course, there are times of intense energy output there as well, but I think that it is more often mixed with times that are rather humdrum...a day-to-day grind that looks and feels different. The peaks and valleys of the energy output are not as high and low, and therefore, they are more sustainable in a day-to-day structure that is more or less the same, week after week.

So when I do creative work, I really work. And then when I rest, I rest. There isn't as much of that tedious middle ground, that going through the motions without investing too much, which I remember from certain previous jobs. I think this laser beam way of working is also tied to the emotional highs and lows the artist experiences. Creativity is cyclical, so therefore we create in a cyclical manner. I recently came across a photographer's blog post which is related to this cycle - it was a really informative read, so take a look if you want to explore this topic more.

One comment on “work”

  1. Thanks for posting this and the link to the photographers blog. Helps shed light on this phase I'm in with photography and letting it hibernate for a season.

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