Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Danger of a Successful Routine

...and why it is so important to keep things fresh.

They say that if you do what you love to do for a living, you'll never work a day in your life.  But, I have found that doing what you love to do for a living can be a fickle thing. It can be easy to become burned out when you have to mass produce creative projects every day to either make money or be successful in some way (i.e. seek fame for what you are doing.)
I'll admit I haven't blogged in months and many people have asked me if it is because I had a baby. While motherhood has been easily the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me (and I do love to let it consume me), it didn't make me stop writing. I just needed a break. And, I'm totally comfortable with taking a break because I was getting to be burned out with the subjects I was choosing to write about.
Anyone who knows anything about being an artist knows that it can be a rollercoaster.  People notice you, they forget about you, they steal your ideas, they criticize you, they say you suck, they put you on the cover of magazines, they pay you, they praise you, they forget about you again....and the list goes on. You just have to keep going because while you want them to notice you, it isn't about them. They need to be drawn to you because you are doing something original or something worthy of them essentially wasting time on. You can't cater to them because they look up to you for inspiration. 
At the same time, however, it is so easy to cater to them. Because we want to get paid for what we love to do. And if no one knows who you are, you're screwed.
My initial main goal for starting a blog was to get noticed.  I had written a book and sent off query letters to publishers and I got a few people notice me (usually they don't even give you the time of day) but they would all say that since no one knew who I was, they wouldn't take the risk. 
I had so much fun with finding subjects to write about on this blog for so long and it became addicting that other people loved it, too.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and interviewed many amazing people. I also, in turn, interviewed quite a few assholes who I knew would bring in a lot of new readers and it just led me to get burned out. The last interview that I did was with Holly Madison, who I don't dislike, but her publicist would only allow me to interview her if I asked her about her line of dog toys in the interview. Her publicist went on to scratch off questions I planned to ask her that she didn't feel "appropriate" for Holly. 
It was truly the final straw. Every interview you read, see, or hear with celebrities is calculated, planned, and executed in a way to become an advertisement (except if you're Oprah).
As a struggling writer trying to get noticed, I saw what people wanted to read and I went with it. I became addicted to something that I found to be successful.
After I had a baby, I felt embarrassed all of the sudden by some of the things I was choosing to write about. I believe that as parents, the best way we can teach our kids about life is to live the way we would want them to live. Whatever my son and daughter (!) choose to do with their life, I want them to always have passion for what they are doing, to be authentic, and I want them to give everything their all.
Writing, for me, had always been about telling the truth. I feel as though every real writer out there would say that this is the case: it's about exposing the things everyone else brushes under the carpet. It's about dissecting emotions in a way we are scared to in every day life and even scared to do in other forms of art. Even if we have to create fiction to tell the truth, we still have some duty (I don't know where it came from) to change the world with what we are writing about.
It isn't about interviewing reality stars.  It isn't about getting paid to write a review about skin cream.
(Don't get me wrong, I love sharing good beauty finds and I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to interview someone who I really respected.)
There was something magical about the days when I didn't try to impress anyone because I knew that no one was reading anyway. I just kept grinding out the best articles I could hoping to get noticed. I would stay up all night trying to perfect my writing just because I enjoyed it and I was too involved to fall asleep.
Talent usually isn't enough. It needs to be accompanied by drive and passion so we can work on it every day and find ways to improve. Talent is raw, free, and usually full of errors. It's free from criticism and the limits we, as artists, place on ourselves after we hear what other people say about our work. It's free from the pressure we, as artists, put on ourselves when we know we're noticed. Talent is also something that can be put on a back burner if we choose to put it there. When we put it into action for work, it becomes work. When we have gotten to the point where we don't even want to do anything anymore, it's because we are burned out.
It is important to remember that we are the only person responsible for when we feel burned out. It's no one else's fault and it it's actually a great thing to allow yourself to be burned out when you feel like you need to be. Passion is like your overall health, if you're burned out, you need to rest and recharge.
What keeps art alive isn't success. It's change. It's pushing yourself, even when you're successful. It's pulling those all nighters, it's daring to make something that other people might say is garbage because you believe in that piece of garbage. It's being true to who you were when you started, even if that means you lose your successful routine...for the time being. 

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