This is an important read for freelancers. I’ve fallen into this trap a LOT lately and it has affected my health.
I’ve since made it a goal to better balance work with the rest of my life. You can’t be productive unless you take care of yourself first.
The Workaholic Pedestal
We freelancers have a tendency to never truly be away from our work, regardless of the time or day of the week. Especially if like me, your work station is in your home. We work long hours and dedicate ourselves fully to whatever project we have at hand. We loose sleep, skip social gatherings, eat whatever is quick and easy so we can get back to work. I have noticed that there is a sense of pride in general among freelancers that we are so in love with our work that we can dedicate ourselves this way. Passion for your chosen profession is definitely a plus!
However, I have also observed a downside to this part of freelancing. That dedication can cross the line into an unhealthy workaholic lifestyle, and other freelancers actually encourage it. There is an underlying unspoken rule in freelancer culture that if you’re not working, you’re slacking. I’ve seen other freelancers take subtle stabs at their peers for taking time off to see family, to tend to daily life, or to just have a day (or three) to simply BREATHE and do something other than art. Doing things like comparing your work load with others’ work load, making yourself out to be the harder working one. Referring to things like showering, cooking, and cleaning as “free time” or “vacation”. It creates or adds to guilt surrounding work, which is really not a nice thing to do to your friends and peers.
The disclaimer here is that clearly not every freelancer does this, and I think those that do are not being purposefully malicious, so please don’t misread this as an attack. I’m guilty of playing into this myself, we are just falling into a part of the starving artist stereotype; The idea that your chosen craft/art must encompass ALL of your being, every day and every moment for you to truly be passionate about it.
The truth is, there IS life outside of art and work, and it’s not a contest. We are living beings that must eat and sleep, and we are social animals that must have a connection with others. So not only do we HAVE to do things other than art, but it’s also ok to spend time doing other things that make you happy. It doesn’t mean you are less passionate about your work, or that other artists who spend more time on theirs love it more.
And yes, there are deadlines we must work under. But none of us want to be starving artists. None of us enjoy loosing sleep, eating crappy or skipping meals, working our fingers to the bone, letting friendships fall apart… These are not good things. You aren’t a cooler or more a passionate artist for making those sacrifices. So I think instead of putting that lifestyle on a pedestal, we should be encouraging one another to take time to care for ourselves, and to have a life outside of their work. Just like anyone else doing any other kind of work. =)
YES. Thank you. It makes me really uncomfortable when I hear professionals saying things like “if you are not drawing 24/7 you’ll never make it”, implying that having outside interests or taking care of yourself means you will fail. You undoubtedly need to be dedicated and focused to succeed as a freelancer, but what is the point of having the so-called freedom that freelancing is supposed to provide you if you can’t even leave your desk every once in a while? Exercise, get outside, socialize, have other hobbies. I’ve found I’m more productive and happier and healthier and more passionate about my work and my career when I take time off, every day, to get away from work for a little while. Building a career is important and rewarding, but your life is not comprised solely of the amount of work you are able do. Your life is not defined solely by how many hours you clock at your work desk.
This mindset is rampant throughout college and even in the professional studio environments too. It’s so sad, I’ve fallen Ill because of it and still have a hard time breaking away. I see many of my peers ruining their bodies and minds too to live up to an ideal of working 24/7.
It feels really relieving to see I’m not alone in this. The guilt of not always feeling inspired. The frenzy of not wanting to let anyone down (especially yourself) can completely break you down. I’ve been beyond fortunate to have some of the most understanding and compassionate bosses ever, so the idea of the letting them is crushing. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned since I started freelancing is to take time for yourself when you need it. Not “when I’m done with this project in 2 months I’ll relax.” Take care of yourselves artist friends. <3
i can relate to this a lot
I rarely reblog posts, but I feel that spreading this message is worth making an exception.
I’m in today’s morning paper!! (And that photo doesn’t nearly convey how excited I am about it.) Here’s a short excerpt from the original article (my own translation):
"When I got the idea last year, I planned on writing a 25 to 30-minute-long piece, but it grew so big that it has taken up all my time this fall," says composer David Saulesco who is currently an apprentice under Fredrik Högberg at Courthouse Music in Nyland.
Fredrik Högberg’s apprentices usually strive to move on to university studies, but David Saulesco is unique in being the first apprentice who already has a university degree. “I’ve still gotten plenty of creative input from Fredrik and that has meant a great deal to me.”
Composers do not usually also write their own lyrics. This is not true for David Saulesco, who has written more than half the libretto himself. The remaining text comes from various parts of the Bible, from both the Old and New Testament.
This blog post is mainly in Swedish; summary in English below.
I slutet av augusti i år flyttade jag in hos tonsättaren Fredrik Högberg som jag gått som lärling för under hösten. Under elva veckor har jag sedan dess jobbat med ett 50 minuter (och 1 101 takter!) långt juloratorium som kommer att ha urpremiär nu på lördag den 14 december 18.00 i Själevads kyrka utanför Örnsköldsvik. Dessutom sätts det upp på onsdag den 18 december 19.00 i Härnösands domkyrka.
Historien om Jesu födelse har aldrig berättats så här förut. Jag har tagit fasta på såväl texterna i Matteus- och Lukasevangeliet som på vad samtida historie- och religionsforskare vet och tror. Det har varit viktigt för mig att berätta från ett mänskligt perspektiv och gestalta även Maria och Josef och folket som levde vid tiden för Jesu födelse.
I den här historien, som säkerligen är en av världens mest kända, finns också sällan belysta allmänmänskliga budskap om kärlek och förståelse som jag har velat lyfta fram. Det är en historia som i min mening i allra högsta grad fortfarande är relevant, oavsett vad man tror på.
Late this August, I moved in with Swedish composer Fredrik Högberg. I’ve been studying under him as his apprentice this entire fall. I spent most of this time, eleven weeks to be exact, working on what became a 50 minute (and 1 101 bars!) long Christmas oratorio. It will premiere Sat Dec 14th at 6 PM in Själevad Church outside Örnsköldsvik and Wed Dec 18th at 7 PM in Härnösand Cathedral.
The story of Jesus’ birth has never been told like this, firmly rooted in the perspective of the people who lived around him and the centuries of history that lead up to his birth - as well as the events and consequences of his life. No matter one’s faith, the story has important and poignant messages that anyone can learn from and be inspired by in their lives.
Yesterday was the five-year anniversary of my first very own live concert. I did both original songs and covers, I'd written all the arrangements myself, I designed my own poster, I hand picked the musicians and technicians. I even printed and cut out all the program leaflets by hand.
The concert was a major success and I still remember it as one of the most exciting and rewarding things I’ve done. To commemorate my first gig, here is a live recording of one of the songs I performed - my own arrangement of Simon and Garfunkel’s version of “Scarborough Fair”. (In other words, a cover of a cover.)
And yes, that’s me singing. :)
Whoa, it’s a Battle Dog keychain! This two inch acrylic beauty is ready for battling and adventuring at your side! They won’t be up for sale for a few more weeks, but I’m giving away this totally rad keychain to three lucky readers!
HOW TO ENTER:
like and/or reblog this post (both count as entries, sweet!)
Rules: Anyone can enter! I can ship worldwide.
Three random winners will be chosen on Monday, August 5th!
Look at this adorable keychain! But more importantly, take a look at the web comic that goes with it; it is well-drawn and funny with cute characters.
Last night I stayed at my office until way too late (after 11 PM) preparing the final 48 (yes, forty-eight!) sets of Eternal Daughter sheet music (bundled with the limited edition compact disc).
Each sheet is hand cut by myself, I’ve assembled every set and folded every wrapper on my own. Together with the beautiful digipak album, it truly is a collector’s item since each one is entirely unique!
One of the strangest jobs I’ve ever done: Do It Again (Steely Dan) for string quartet. But, I have to say, it really works! Performed by Kristallkvartetten (The Crystal Quartet) at the Musicians’ Health and Performance 1st Nordic Conference in Piteå.
Gratuitous keyboard guitar solo in honor of D-Pad Studio’s awesome upcoming game Owlboy. Props to Jonathan Geer (the guy who makes the game’s soundtrack) and Shreddage II, easily the most awesome virtual electric guitar out there.
The life of a freelancer. Today, recording all day in beautiful Hortlax Church with the wonderful Duo Vox Vocalem.
This week I delivered opening and incidental music for a radio show produced by an awesome Swedish radio and TV production company, Massa Media. Called “Min stora svenska visbok” (“My big Swedish songbook”) it’s going to air on national radio this summer and feature a guest artist in each episode. I’ll post the theme song on SoundCloud later - watch this space!
Yesterday I was in the papers again regarding my soundtrack to Me and My Dinosaur 2. All this publicity is making me giddy! I myself can’t wait for the game to be released, I’m really looking forward to playing it. The team at Canned Meat and MADSOFT have poured so much love into the game it’s bound to be something special.
Next week, a folk-inspired song commissioned by a local duo will be premiered at the first concert of their summer tour, here in Piteå! I’m really looking forward to that. Meanwhile, I will be bashing away at a few new string quartet arrangements. An ABBA medley and a Steely Dan song for sure (or maybe one of Donald Fagen's solo efforts) and perhaps something from this year's Eurovision Song Contest - we’ll see. :)