Art vs. The Day Job | Free Up Resources
A novelest I knew once told the story of how she got to her dream of writing for a living. She quit her job as an art director for a large advertising firm and took a lower paying, less demanding job which allowed her to wake up every morning and write from 5am to 7am. She gave herself a 5 year window to “make it” and now writes fiction for a living full time. (Her name is Kara Lennox, and I met her as part of a writers group in Dallas.)
While in the movies, artists are “discovered” while working their day jobs, in reality artists who make the leap from amateur to professional have a lot time, money and energy invested before the transition actually happens. And the transition isn’t overnight. It can take years of in between steps before art can truly be your sole source of income.
With that said, if an artist is finding a lack in time, money and energy, like Kara, there may be structural changes that can be made to free up those resources so they can be committed to the pursuit of the goal.
1. Examine where you live. Your choice of living accommodations can be your biggest “fixed” piece of structure. It is likely your largest expense each month and drives a lot of your other resources such as how much time it takes for your commute to work, the cost of utilities and it may even “cost” you in energy (ie. you have difficult neighbors, atmosphere is hectic, roommate issues). Determine how where you live uses your resources of money, time and energy.
2. Examine your day job. How you make your income is your biggest “fixed” piece of structure when it comes to your time. At 40+ hours a week it is the dominant factor. While a day job is a necessity, liking what you do and who you work with can heavily influence the hours you are not on the job. Look at your current situation and make an objective assessment of the resources your day job provides and requires.
3. Examine your lifestyle. How you spend your free time, your friends, how you dress, eat, and sleep define your lifestyle–which is also part of your structure. It both uses and creates resources. For example, cooking at home may pay a dividend in the energy eating healthy provides, but cost in time. Hanging out at your favorite night spot may pay a dividend in the energy of friendship but have a cost in money (and sleep). Look at the elements of your lifestyle through a lens of money, time and energy and come up with as objective an analysis as possible. Lifestyle is the only part of your structure where you have total control.
4. Brainstorm as if none of your structure is fixed. Forget what a pain it would be to move or how impossible it seems to find a new job. Let yourself play “what if.” Are there alternatives you haven’t considered before? Would quitting your current corporate position to wait tables pay less but allow you to leave the job at the job when you’re at home? Could you sell your car to get your demo made and use the time biking to work or taking a bus to write lyrics? Would a change in your hours at your current workplace cut down your commute time? Would a short term investment in education allow you to transition to a day job that allows you to better pursue your art? Could you capture free time early morning, late night or lunch hour to allow for the discipline of pursuing your craft on a daily basis? The possibilities are endless and absolutely unique to you. Explore them.
5. Have the courage to make the changes. It is easy to limit ourselves within our structure, because if we actually free up the resources we need to pursue the dream we might get there to find out we aren’t quite good enough. We expose ourselves to failure. We’re all afraid of taking the risk and failing. Of doing things our friends will say are crazy and have them not pay off. But even worse than that is the regret of what might have been. The tragedy of unexplored talent. So free up your resources and see if you have what it takes to chase the dream. No effort done in an area of passion is ever wasted.
Cathy’s Art vs. The Day Job is a multi-part series:
You can read each post here: