While it may seem easy to start working on a new project, it’s actually one of the hardest things for any creative to do. There are a lot of reasons for this, including the need to market all of the earlier projects, the need to make money at a regular job, housework needs to be done, too many ideas without the corresponding time, not knowing which idea will be profitable, the last project isn’t truly finished but the creative person is waiting on someone else to do his or her job… The list goes on and on and includes at least one-part procrastination and one-part relaxation.
Money, Money, Money, Money, Money
As much as everyone wants artists to make art for its own sake – it’s such a rewarding experience – that’s not how the world works. Creative people have to eat to live. They have to feel safe enough to create, and they need a place where they can create. If the basic necessities of life aren’t present, it becomes infinitely more difficult to create. Some creators are lucky enough to have made songs about money that have then made money. “Money makes the world go ‘round.” “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.” “Money, it’s a gas. Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.” “Dollar, dollar Bill, y’all.”
Unless a creator is already famous or runs into an incredible amount of good luck, he or she has to spend 80 percent of her time on marketing and 20 percent of her time on creating. If all goes well, sales will go up and the created income will allow the creator to make more time for creating. The marketing never goes away, and according to some people, it doesn’t get down to less than 60 percent. Now, if the person has a job because eating is important, you can see where the time slips away and nothing new gets done. (Everyone has housework to be done; it’s another place to deposit creativity time instead of making something new.)
Time Keeps on Tickin’ Tickin’
Time never stops. It can’t be saved in a bottle. It can’t be used later. Every moment passed is a moment past, regardless of what you’re doing with that moment. Most creators are extremely aware of this problem, and it can be debilitating. You want to do your best work. You want to do what’s going to be successful, and you want to make something that will make the world a better place. You have 10 or 20 or more ideas, but you don’t have the time to make all of those ideas right now. Worse, you may never have the time to do them in the future because there could be no future.
How do you pick the idea you should move forward with? Most of the time, it’s a crap shoot. Sometimes, it’s inspiration. Sometimes, it’s desperation, especially if you have a project you know you could put together easily but it won’t have a huge impact. Unlike the Field of Dreams, people don’t just show up because you made a thing or things, so you need to find the thing that more people will show up for and make that. Or the thing you can put together quickly, so you can get to the more important stuff later while still having a new thing to sell. In between projects, this thought process gets convoluted.
That Naggin’ Suspicion Something’s Missin’
(Not a song lyric, but it could be.) There’s a time in between projects where the creator may be waiting on an editor or a book cover. You can’t do anything with the project until that person does his or her work. As in other jobs, when you’re waiting for someone else to do his or her job, so you can go back to doing yours, it may be difficult to concentrate on other tasks in the interim. It may feel like it’s okay to put forth the “waiting” effort; when making something new, the “waiting” effort isn’t enough. Some how the creative has to break through that block and move on or use the time for other pursuits, including marketing, side jobs, or the day job.
Waitin’ on the World to Change
There is at least one writer I admire because of the work he’s been able to do. He wrote a book a month for 18 months. That’s crazy work and amazing work! I get that part of my issue is procrastination rolled up with a pat of fear. There’s no wrong project to choose, but there feels like there is because of the whole money issue. If I choose the right project, I’ll be free to do a couple of wrong projects. If I choose the wrong project, I won’t make enough money to find out what the right project is. On the other hand, if I choose the wrong project, I’ll be one step closer to finding the right project. It’s circular.
During that author’s streak of writing, he got sick. Everyone needs time off to recharge the batteries. I understand that, too; it’s just hard to justify taking time off when the bills are coming due, and nothing is bringing in the revenue you planned on. Especially as a freelancer, it’s often feast or famine, and you gotta eat when the food is there because it may not be there next week.
Getting to the Point
(Who knew it was a song?) The whole point of this was really because I need your help. I created a poll on Patreon that I need people to answer, even if it’s just for my ego’s sake. This wasn’t the article I was going to write about the poll. I guess I’ll try writing that one tomorrow!
It’d be great if you’d join my Patreon and help my wife and I realize our dreams of “Love. Friendship. Travel. Penguins.” But right now, I’ll be happy if you go to the Patreon page and answer the poll about which book you’d want to read. If you’re not sure, come back to the blog tomorrow (you can sign up on the right for blog notifications) and check out what the titles mean and why they are on the list. Thank you.