Last week I shared how artists deal with the anxiety of art deadlines. Here are some additional tactics!
I find that accountability to another human, set up at the beginning of the project and kept up throughout, is really important. When I know that I am going to have to report in to someone regarding a specific goal, it makes me feel embarrassed when I don’t meet it. The fear of embarrassment thus spurs me on.
stickK.com — a fabulous, free website where you “put a contract on yourself.” You commit on-line to whatever goal you have and there are various carrot/stick devices you can choose to help. For instance, if you don’t meet your commitment, you will have to donate $ to an anti-charity (a cause which you don’t support).
The reward method. Think of something you really, really want to have or get to do. When you reach your goal, you get to do that thing. My trip to NYC last month was just such a reward trip for meeting some very hard long-term goals. Another reward I give myself is a break from my overactive dog by dropping her off at a doggie day care place for a day!
Since my studio and its contents got destroyed at the beginning of the year, something shifted in me: things became less precious. I have been working out of improvised studio spaces and in ways that I would never have dreamed of before … and the pressure around deadlines has decreased dramatically. I now think in terms of “windows of opportunity” and I’ve become much more spontaneous and prolific. I just have to jump without a parachute and make split-second decisions that have to be good enough because there is no time for anything else.
Maybe for many artists like me procrastination is not so much about avoidance but is rather some sort of way of factoring in the intuitive and spontaneous. Since working in this new way, quickly in borrowed spaces, I have felt less stressed. I am now forced to procrastinate, until I can get a space; but when I get there I work well. Of course gallery directors, curators, and so on want progress reports; but that may be their anxiety, their lack of awareness, and their “stuff.” Maybe procrastination is a necessary part of the process for many artists—the real trick is to make sure that you jump in when you are ready!
The issue of deadlines used to be paralyzing for me. I always finished on time but I often became ill after the work was submitted. Several years ago I needed to submit work for an exhibition several months before the actual date in order to allow time for the production of a catalogue. It was a miracle! I was able to prepare my work for photography and rest for several months before the opening.
Since then I have organized my schedule so that I can complete my work early rather than at the deadline. I understood this concept before, but I think I needed to actually have the experience to fully understand how much less stressful finishing early can be. Now it is worth it to me to stay ahead of the game. Recently I missed my arbitrary deadline on a project (because of a minor health issue) but I still had plenty of time to finish the work because I had allowed extra time.
Come visit The Future of Mental Health video conference: