Welcome to Thrive! A weekly advice column for creatives and the generally confused.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that life gets in the way of art often and even the most extroverted of artists can crave solitude and consistent days to get their best work done. But the world won’t create this space for us, we have to make it ourselves, which is hard and exhausting and some days doesn’t even seem worthwhile. Whether you have to pick up extra shifts to pay off some bills or you’re busy celebrating someone’s marriage, you’re spending time away from the creative projects that bring you joy and tending to other important life matters. When this happens we can all be quick to judge ourselves.
I used to beat myself up over this. I still beat myself up over this. And when I am not, I am beating myself up about not feeling worse about it. Currently, I am in the middle of several trips across the US for work. I am almost done but it has been about a month of near constant travel and 12-hour days. That takes a toll on me physically, emotionally, and creatively. Creating space was hard over this time and while I did get *some* work on my pieces done I mostly spent my time on the day job work and sleeping. I did not have ideal conditions for creating or even refining. Just ask the manuscript of poems I carried in my luggage for a week to San Fran and Honolulu and only looked at once. My problem is I think I can do it all. But I can’t and I shouldn’t feel badly. And you shouldn’t either!
Thanks to social media (I hate to write that but hey, if the shoe fits) we have become enamored with the word “hustle”. Everyone has a side-hustle, everyone is hustling, and “hustle” quotes have become a favorite on Instagram. #hustle has 12,923,000 posts while #hustlequotes has 32k, What that tells me is that we have an inordinate amount of people who are obsessed with the “work hard 110% of the time” mentality, no sleep until the first million is made etc. While I love the energy to get after what we want… I think all hustle and no rest is a perfect recipe for missing out on the lives that inform our work. Without living we cannot speak to life. Hustling redefined what “work” has meant for everyone. And I am here to say:
You do not need to hustle to be successful. I repeat, you do not need to hustle to be successful.
So when life gets in the way and you have to step away from your work for a moment in time, remember that every heartbreak and every joy can inform and change your work–for better and worse– and that process of living, enjoying, and struggling is part of a creative life. I know like it can seem like it’s not, but it is.