Working without the whip

the whip
the whip

My day job is over. I don’t have to get up early, shower, dress, scarf down a toaster waffle and race to work only to SIT and wait for work orders to come in. Many times I had work orders from the previous day(s), but not always. The days when mornings brought free time were the worst. Hurrying in to work only to SIT, check mail, file, run software updates, etc., seemed a waste of a perfectly good life. I longed to be home reading the paper, rising slowly, eating when I was hungry and feeling free to work on my own art. I have that now, but evidently I haven’t stopped needing some rest (I retired early because of stress), because I have never duplicated the work effort at home that I employed at my job.

I have never been a very energetic person, so a job seemed a good idea. Some structure, some money, some encouragement (not to get fired) and some direction were all helpful in developing good work habits. Even when I was stressed, sleepy, impatient, anxious, sick, or tired, I could do my job. There was no small sense of satisfaction in this. I felt productive, useful, normal. But I didn’t manage the stress of office culture well. I think I am a lone wolf. I crave company, but not just any company. I’d rather be alone than with people I don’t like/don’t like me.

Now that I work from home, my work effort has been so up and down I feel like I am two different people. Maybe a multiple personality—one eager and brimming with ideas, the other thinks I must have been manic when I wrote them all down. More likely I’m just a woman with pain and fatigue from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, with a scathing lumbar radiculopathy, and a slowly recovering broken ankle, that combine to slow my work effort to short spurts that I pay for by having to rest for several days afterwards. And winter slows me down, causes me to overeat carbs, and feels like it will never end. Summer makes me use the day—time enough to rest and relax in the morning, and work 3-4 hours in my studio then have the entire sunny evening left.

So how do I learn how to work without a work order? Since leaving “work”, I have been motivated mostly by inspiration. When I get out my journals and go through my creative ideas lists, I eventually get excited and one will call out to me more than the others. In fact, it usually will compel me to work feverishly until it’s done. The problem with this method is there is nothing that compels me to get out my journals when I am distracted by life, newspapers, television, the internet, or my golden retrievers. And part of the reason I’m distracted is the loneliness of working from home. These diversions are company after all, however meager.

I don’t know what the answer is except to try to work a little each day, whether I feel like it or not. Or maybe I shouldn’t always confine my work to my studio (away from these diversions and the company they provide). Maybe the studio feels like another cubicle to me.

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9 thoughts on “Working without the whip

  1. “I’d rather be alone than with people I don’t like/don’t like me.” I totally hear you on this. I can’t count how many hours I wasted trying to get along with or get support and encouragement from the absolute Wrong Kind of People. Thank God for the internet.

    And congrats on getting away from your job, but I’m so sorry that you’re finding the trasition difficult. I wish I had some great advice that would make it all easier, but mostly I just want to say that I’m happy we’ve met on the internets, and blogging, to me, feels like visiting with friends. So, I’m hoping you begin to find solace here. And just try to go easy on yourself when you can. You’re doing some big stuff. *Big hug*

  2. Hi “Outdriving My Headlights!” Awesome that you came here. I love your blog.

    I’ve been working from home since September of 2005. It’s hard to believe. I have had spells of working hard and not at all. It was very slow after I broke my leg. I think I lost an entire year to that injury. I also need to accept that my illness will create limitations the rest of my life, but that’s hard, believe me.

    Oh, the Wrong Kind of People. My list is so long, and being compromised was so hard on my health. I tried so hard to fit in to work culture but I am counter culture at heart and cannot stomach bureaucracy and hypocrisy.

    Starting a blog has provided relief for me that nothing else has. By the way, I am still laughing over the line about “Angela’s Ashes”…

    Got a good laugh out of that one! Especially since the fodder for most of my work has been trauma. You gotta laugh, right?

  3. I’ve been thinking about you all day. I haven’t got any wisdom here, but perhaps that isn’t what I should be bringing here anyway.

    Instead, I have a virtual cup of tea for you and am here, being with you. I’ve become very fond of you, so can I make a polite request that you are gentle on yourself? Seeing as I can’t be there in person to make sure of that, I thought I should ask.

    I’m still thinking, so if I have any thoughts that are remotely clever, I’ll come straight back.

  4. Thank you Emma. I am a tea drinker, so I appreciate that. I have already thought to be less hard on myself after having written this and today’s post will cover those new thoughts. So we are in accord.

    I love that you can say straight out that you’ve become fond of me. I am fond of you too, something deserved about it too (for both of us), I think.

  5. Pingback: MosaicMoods
  6. Hi Diana,

    You commented on my last post and I wanted to come over here and say HI!

    This post resonates with me because I also go through big swings of throwing myself into a project vs long spats of doing the bare minimum to keep my business running and watching lots of TV, email, Facebook, etc, etc. I don’t suffer from the same stuff you do but I do struggle with depression which takes the motivation out of me too.

    I have grown to trust that in time I naturally get tired of TV and whatnot and feel like making something. I do think we have a creative impulse in us.

    Although I do tend to whip myself a bit too. My favorite form of self-punishment is the List of Things I Ought To Be Doing For My Business. Which are boring and I don’t do and then feel bad about.

    Anyway actually I was going to suggest something, not just whine about myself LOL. I was going to say that what came to mind when you mentioned that writing here helped is the book the Artist’s Way. The author suggests writing three pages each morning. It kinda gets the juices flowing. Or the crud out. Or whatever. I wonder if you had something that you did each day that was a kind of discipline (the good kind), that would keep you anchored in a way. I think that is what work does for us when it is good, it is a grounding thing.

    OK that’s all, (and feel free to ignore it if that sounds too much like advice),
    mostly I just wanted to say hello!

  7. Hi Emma, I used to have the Artist’s Way but I gave it to Goodwill because I am not disciplined enough to do the assignments. I guess I am sick of assignments!

    I do, however, journal every day. I have been reading authors (authors are great advisors for artists) and have been writing down first thoughts of the day each day, and dreams, and ideas in the middle of the night. Scouring my subconscious for ideas that resonate enough to move me to actually work on them!

    “List of Things I Ought To Be Doing For My Business” THAT list is always in my head, berating me occasionally, LOL. But I mostly ignore it. I have always resisted coercion. A childhood leftover.

    Lately it seems like there are so many daily living things that get my attention that my work comes last. I am unfocused (though still very interested) in my work. Diversions are my biggest bugaboo.

  8. Wow, I have two Emma’s!

    I thought I was talking to UK, Post-Apocalyptic Publishing Emma (my muse) and it was actually Emma McCreary from Tao of Prosperity, a very cool blog! Thank you for visiting Mosaic Moods Emma.

  9. Yep, two Emma’s. =)

    Huh, I forgot that there were even assignments in the Artist’s Way. Well, I read a lot of self-help type books and there are often assignments but I usually ignore them -> I read mostly for the ideas.

    I love that book, it reframed the way I think about art and creativity and God and life in general.

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