Written by Michaela Bulkley
Any arts industry has “busy seasons” and we are all currently in a slow period for theatre and live performances. However, seasons always change, so it is important to remember that this is temporary, even if it lasts for a while, it is still temporary.
Here are some things you can do to keep the momentum going during a slow season:
1. DO NOTHING
We tend to wear being busy as a badge of honor, and I am super guilty of that too. However, forcing yourself to create something because you feel like you need to keep up with others is not going to help you create your best work. Even if you are trying to keep busy to keep anxious thoughts at bay, that is using art as avoidance.
Taking time to rest is productive. It helps you clear your head and helps you bring more energy into the next project. This is an anxious time, don’t forget to breath and process those emotions. You don’t always have to be a hyper-creative, that’s unrealistic and you don’t owe that to anyone. But you owe it to yourself to take time to rest.
Some “doing nothing” options:
- Read your favorite book for the 9th time
- Watch a movie you know every word to
- Play with a pet
- Watch YouTube videos of animals being cute
Now that you are refreshed, the easiest way to get back in the game is to take a few minutes to get some advocacy done. Not only will it help the long term sustainability of your career, but it will strengthen the sector as a whole, which is the most productive thing you could do.
3. GET ORGANIZED
All those things you said you would clean up when you had the time? Well you have the time.
Organize the files on your computer, clean out your inbox, consolidate some notebooks. This also doesn’t just have to be about work things, clean out your closet, organize your pantry, categorize your books. Whatever makes it feel like you have a stronger foundation to move forward on. That way when the creativity and work starts to come back (because it will come back) you already know where everything is and what you have.
Plus we all know that when we start cleaning and organizing we go down the rabbit hole of forgotten things. We re-discover notes to ourselves, plans we had and forgot about, projects that were half done and then you got busy doing something else. Those things can help you reflect, inspire you, and give you clarity on your next step.
4. REVIEW YOUR GOALS
It is already mid-March, so what New Year’s Resolutions have you forgotten about? Take some time to review what goals you’ve had in mind, and see if you can get started, or even accomplish any of them now. Or if you look at your goals and they don’t make you happy anymore, feel free to shift them and come up with new ones. Is this something you actually want to accomplish in life, or do you feel obligated to accomplish it? (Specifically looking at you, womxn. Do you really need to go to the gym more, or do you just think you should?)
Are these goals really how you want to spend your time and energy? Or do you have bigger goals?
Don’t forget when setting goals, play to your strengths. Don’t look at where you need “improving,” and focus on what you’re already good at. Your strengths are whatever makes you feel strong and confident when you are doing them, you don’t need a quiz to figure it out but I always recommend the 16 Personalities for fun. What do you already love doing, and how can you increase that in your life?
5. GET CREATIVE
You’ve taken some time to rest and reflect, so now you can get back to creating.
This is where it gets tricky, it can be really easy to fall into the comparison trap. Looking at how everyone else has spent this time can be crushing to creativity. Maybe they wrote a play, or composed a musical, or learned TikTok dances and went viral for some random reason.
Maybe someone has a YouTube channel and have already been uploading content twice a week that looks perfectly lit and edited and while they were doing that you spent fourteen hours watching the Bachelor just to be disappointed that Peter and Madison didn’t end up together and now your upset about that and your lack of internet fame.
First off, you can’t take back the time you spent. Secondly, you don’t know how long they have been working on those things. You also do not have to create something that you show to the world, you can create for the sake of yourself. If you are trying something new, I highly recommend reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, it is a book about writing, but it’s applicable to any artist, since one of her most famous parts of that book is encouraging people to have a “Shitty First Draft”.
So just start creating something, even if you don’t know what it’s going to be. You’re an artist, it’s what you’re good at.