Our Creative Lives: Slammed


  Lately, I’ve been slammed: psycho slammed. I’m working on a sizable writing job that will pretty much go until the end of the year. I’ve got another big ass job for one of my regular freelance clients. On top of these demands, I’ve been gigging a lot and also just trying to stay on top the usual life stuff of being a mom, driving the carpool, feeding the teen animals and paying the bills on time. And of course, there’s the added frenzy of the holidays

 Like with most artists, the economic side of my creative life has always been a feast or famine proposition. Sometimes, I seem to spend weeks twiddling my thumbs, slumping over sideways and wondering where all the jazz gigs and freelance clients have gone. Other times, like right now, I’m operating on overdrive. I live on both ends of the spectrum. I suspect most of us do. Of course, the simple truth is that we have to grab the work when it’s available and that sometimes means we’re completely up against it. So how do we keep from going mental when the lifting gets heavy and the schedule insane? I’ve got some ideas.


1. Step away from social media.

Social media is the mother of all distractions, not to mention a ginormous time suck. It’s just way too easy to glaze over watching You Tube videos or to slip into a bobble headed coma reading the news feed on Facebook. If you’re up against it, social media is the first thing that’s got to go. See that “log out” icon on the upper right hand side of the page? Click it. Now back away. You can do it. I promise. And anyway, Facebook (And Twitter and Tumblr and the rest) will still be there when you come back. If you, like me, have to hang out on social media as part of the work you’re doing, then you should approach with a Zen-like discipline. Be surgical. Focus on the thing you’re suppose to be focused on. Don’t wander off to like your best friend’s status update.

2. Take care of yourself.

Our bodies absorb stress and intensity. When you’re deep into a creative full press, self-care is critical. Help your body out. It’s all about the basics; eat healthy, colorful foods, get enough sleep and take breaks to roll out the yoga mat or get outside for a stroll around the neighborhood. If you can optimize your physical well being, your creative mojo will be all the mightier for it.

3. Go under

Stock up on coffee, put on your comfiest sweats, go underground for a few days and burn baby burn. Write what you have to write. Create what you have to create. Shed what you have to shed. Ignore the phone. Take a rain check on bowling with the gang. Forget about the latest episode of C.S.I. You’ve got big work to do. This is plate-clearing time. Dig in and do it. The critical thing about going under is knowing when to stop; when to take a shower, pull on your boots and rejoin the human race. If you go under for too long, you risk going mental. Your hair will become unruly. Your shirt will be perpetually stained. Quite possibly, you’ll end up shuffling down the street, mumbling to yourself and feeding peanuts to crows. It happens. Trust me. As they say, “moderation in all things.”

4. Let things slide. Give yourself a break.

 When you’re up against it, the last thing you need is to be perfect. Let the dishes pile up. It won’t be the end of the world if you miss so & so’s CD release party. It won’t kill your kid if you pack the same almond butter sandwich in his lunch every day or if he has cereal for dinner once in awhile. You’re not flippin’ Martha Stewart after all. (And shouldn’t the kid be packing his own lunch?) Everyone will survive if you’re out of cream cheese. I’m a case in point for this one. I haven’t cleaned my apartment in weeks. I’ve been too damn busy. On Thanksgiving Day, my kids and I were stepping around piles of laundry in the hallway. It’s not like they cared or even noticed. They’re teenage boys.  I also didn’t set the table, which had sheet music all over it. Instead, we had our big feed in front of the TV and watched multiple episodes of “Breaking Bad” on Netflix. Everyone was happy. I got your Norman Rockwell right here. The point is that when you’re taking care of business, other stuff has to slide sometimes. That doesn’t mean that you’re anything less than wonderful.

5. Trust yourself.

This isn’t your first rodeo. Think back to another time when you were completely slammed and remember how you got through it. More importantly, remember who you are. You’re a bad ass.  You’ve got grit. You’ve done this before. You can and will pull it off now.

This is how I do it anyway. How about you? The comments are open.