Five years ago, I taught a weekend workshop in Putney VT on how to write articles for artist magazines. I had been writing for American Artist publications since '96, but didn't have time to write articles for my artist friends. So... I decided to teach them to fish rather than fish for them by sharing my experience so they could then write their own articles. It was well attended, and I was especially flattered that an art writer attended and said it was worth every penny. That was the icing on the cake for me, but the real joy came in that I made a difference in the lives of those who attended.
Writing Is About The Reader, Not The Author
The main precept that I learned early on with writing -- It's Not About Me. Good authors write with their listeners in mind, and while the process of writing always includes some of the author's experience, what emerges is a dance between the reader and writer. When the readers receive the text in such a way as to strike a cord, improve their lives, light up their brains, or call them to an action that will make a positive difference, that's when the true work has been done.
No more "living reactively"
In 2007, Clint Watson asked me if I could contribute regularly to his Fine Art Views' daily Newsletter. He spotted my blog and liked what I had to say. Since, several other authors have joined the cause, as well as, dozens of guest authors. I've written hundreds of blogs for FAVS, so many that I can't remember what I wrote 3 weeks ago, and in a couple of cases, I rewrote almost the idential content 2 or 3 weeks in what I thought was a new blog... it gets to the point where I don't know if I'm coming or going.
So, instead of feeling like I'm slowly going insane or senile, I've decided to slow my pace and remove some of the tasks on my over-loaded "plate". In fact, I've so many plates spinning that some have fallen off their poles and crashed. It's good that a couple of them fell off and I left them behind, but while I was running back and forth spinning ones "reactively" that should have been ignored, I let the important stuff - things that are important to me and ultimately will improve my "peeps" lives fall by the wayside.
Christine Kane calls this style of daily living... "living reactive", which means that instead of living our daily lives doing what matters most in a planned way, we spend our time answering everyone on the spot, running from task to task without working on life-changing work and ultimately accomplishing very little. The worst part is that we feel like we've put in a full day of work and accomplished none of our goals.
During the last few months, I've been working on changing the content of my workday in a big way. Last month, I decided to order Christine Kane's DVD and workbook kit (which is a recording of her seminar in 2010) in order to get myself on a viable track. You know.. there's something about spending a good chunk of money that makes one cut out the fat and get down to the meat of her daily schedule.
Investing in myself has made a huge and important difference in the way I go about my tasks every day, and it will eventually help me make a living at what I do - by focusing my more important tasks and stop putting out fires that aren't mine to begin with.
What's In It For You?
This will mean big changes for how and when I respond to you online. For the most part, I won't be available. In fact, I don't think any professional artist should be available for "whatever". It spells disaster for creating a body of work and making a living. Some of you may have noticed that I removed "contact the artist" from my websites menu. I hope you have not been offended because this step is preserving my sanity and will ultimately allow me to get out of the reactive mode and into the focused mode of working offline to develop high quality instructional materials and free tutorials for my email newsletter. In fact, I've been wanting to contribute to my email newsletter weekly for many months. I'm almost at 1000 subscribers - yet because writing instructional posts takes considerable time and research, I haven't written one since last spring.
If I get offline and work on projects that will make a quantitative difference for you in your art career and level of art education, a lot more people will be happier and better off than if I answer individual requests. My free information will be available on my blogs and email newsletter, but I can no longer coach for free... which leads me to my next point.
What's In It For Me?
By focusing on my big projects, my paintings, and my ebooks, I can make a living. I have to be honest here... I spent so much time online this year and giving away everything to everyone that asked that I barely made back my expenses. While it's nice to be popular, I intend to make a decent income in 2012. My ultimate goal is to support my husband, a software engineer, so he can retire early and become my business and operations manager. He's got enough of a left brain to handle the admin stuff while I deeply delve into what I do best - teach academic art concepts and paint a few masterpieces myself. I so look forward to this lifestyle, and it will never happen if I don't get off my butt and get some serious work done.
Quality All the Way:
My motto for the coming year is "Quality, not Quantity". As I approach my daily tasks, I intend to re-organize the way my brain evaluates my work. The housework will have to fall by the wayside (it does anyway), but instead of spending too much time on social media while not getting to the housework, I'll be spending time in my studio and on my non-internet connected PC writing up awesome art lessons, ebooks and step by step demonstrations. I've spent more than 20 years learning from the best artists/mentors in the world, and it's time that I compile and use that knowledge for myself and to communicate what I've learned to others.
I won't be writing blogs every day, and perhaps not even every week. I'm getting off the social media treadmill. I'm sure I'll hear it calling to me like ice-cream in the freezer, but I will have to ignore these things so that I can get my important lifework done and out there. Recently, I posted an image of one of my paintings on Facebook, and I got wonderful responses and feedback. That's not to say that I want you to be watching for my posts on Facebook. That would certainly be hypocritical of me, but what this did -- it helped me to make a solid decision to spend more time painting (which I've had very little time to do). And although I will probably never be a full time painter because I am also a writer, I will photograph each painting step by step and record my process in order to repurpose it for educational material.
Please Learn From My Mistakes:
I'm sharing this with you so that if you experience some of the same things I do that you can learn from my mistakes. Please don't waste your days away online. Make your time online count! Select a few of your favorite bloggers and arrange to get their blog in your email inbox so you can read it at the end of the day when your important work is done. It'll be waiting for you, I promise. You don't have to act like a watch-dog for 5 hours to catch the best that bloggers have to offer. That's the problem with social media streaming. It compels us to watch, and watch, and listen, and watch... until we feel like we're losing our minds. Worse yet, at least with me, I can't remember diddly of what I did read or watched by the end of day because I tried to take too much in.
I will follow 5 people online, their blogs and information. If I try to do more than that, I'll go crazy, and you will lose out on my best work. These five people are those I actually work with - they give me the type of life-changing content that makes a difference for me in the way I approach my tasks, artwork, and life in general. I can't be everybody's fan or friend. I must select who communicates best for my life and work. It sounds a bit selfish, but don't we all know that in the end, quality trumps quantity in practically every facet of our lives?
So now you're saying... what if I decide that you, @Loriwords, are not my ideal person to follow? That's perfectly fine with me. Please don't follow me out of guilt, or even empty loyalty. Follow me because you get something valuable from me. If the number of my followers drops - even drastically, but is made up of artists who absorb and use the content I put out there, than that's all I could ever ask for. My future is not about quantity but quality.
Thanks for your time. If you got to the end of this and got something from it to apply to your life, then I've done my job.
PS I didn't spend a great deal of time proof-reading this - it's better to get it out there and get on with my day then spend the next hour making sure there are no typos. Please forgive me for that.Comment on or Share this Article →