Self Care for Artists: A Personal Journey

I’ll be blunt – I have generalized anxiety disorder.

It’s not that people make me go, “Oh no I said the wrong thing they’re gonna’ hate me etc.” That’s social anxiety. I don’t have that. I do not fear making a dang fool of myself in front of other people.

No. My anxiety stems more from future-based thinking. Specifically, I’m REALLY good at worst-case scenarios. And my trigger for cooking up worst-case scenarios is getting a bit of unexpected (especially bad) news.

So, in a video I made fairly recently, I said that my living situation was looking to change within the next year. That’s because of two things:

  1. I currently rent my house from my mom while she and her boyfriend do the RV-lifestyle thing. And,
  2. Mom said (at the time of the video) that she was looking to sell the house I’m currently renting within the next year.

She has since changed her timeline and decided the house won’t be listed for 2 to 3 years at the soonest. But when I first got the news, when she told me the 1-year plan, my anxiety kicked into High Time Worst-Case Scenario Cooking Mode.

That, coupled with dealing with my emotions around the death of my grandfather at the beginning of the year – and those feelings resurfacing because we sold/auctioned off the estate – meant that I was in Emotional Shutdown.

Right on the same week that The Legend of Jamie Roberts, Chapter 1 on KickStarter wrapped up, and right around the same time that one of my side hustles decided, “you should work 35 hours this week!”

So there was a period where I took 4 days off of EVERYTHING in order to take care of myself. No studio work. No side hustles. No freelance. Nothing.

And in that four day period, and in the days after, I had a realization.

The thing is, I’ve made drawing and making art my full-time thing. Drawing and making art is what pays my rent, my groceries, and basically everything else. I do not regret making my art be able to do this, and I’m proud of the fact that my art can do this.

BUT.

There are a lot of self-care guides out there that recommend that people “make art” as part of taking care of themselves and having time to relax.

Let me be clear: I do make art for self-care, as well as for work. It’s just that the art I make for self-care is VERY different from the art I make for work.

I love comics. Otherwise I wouldn’t have made it my job.

But when I’m in Emotional Shutdown Mode, I do not draw comics. That’s work. Instead, I crochet. I bake. I paint. I do anything but make comics.

Most importantly, I discovered – when I take care of myself, I WRITE.

I’ve been writing so god-diddly-dang much these past two weeks, but not on email newsletters or comic scripts or blog posts.

I write stories.

(Granted, the one story I’ve been writing for self-care purposes is fan-fiction, but it still counts as writing. The act of writing, whether fan-fiction or not, is an act of practicing the skill.)

Do all of these stories I write for self-care become comics I make? God no. Especially the fan-fiction. That shit is for ME.

But for some reason, writing is the catharsis that makes me less angsty. It is the thing that stops the Emotional Shutdown train of thought. And it is the first thing I turn to whenever I feel the Worst-Case-Scenario-Cooking Mode begin.

If you’re an artist, I hope this helps you get some ideas of what you can do for your own self-care. Yes, making art is great. Making art for a living is even better. But you don’t have to be making art all the time in order to be valid.

It’s ok to take time for yourself. And it’s ok if taking care of yourself looks like something besides making art. You have permission to not make art in order to take care of yourself.

Thanks for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.

The Problem of Success

I meditate every morning after breakfast. It’s what I do before I sit down in my studio space to work, to clear my mind.

Today, I had a realization during meditation.

See, I started this year with a major, singular goal – all of my other goals were made with this one priority in mind.

That priority was to be able to not need a “day job” by the end of the year, and make all of my earnings through Fantasyville Productions.

My realization during the meditation was this:

“Fantasyville Productions is paying my bills. I have a sizeable savings cushion thanks to my hard work last year. I’m living on my own for the time being. And I’m on track to not needing to work at the comic shop – they only have me there for 4 or 5 hours a week now as the Facebook page manager.

“And for a while, I was actually scared because of losing my hours. But this was what I set out to do this year!”

I was scared because I was succeeding.

Neil Gaiman was right – everyone talks about the fear of failure, but no one talks about the fear of success.

The fear of success is very real. And it’s something I was not prepared for.

The fear of success, as I’m experiencing it right now, is realizing, “Holy banana pants! My plans are actually working! What do I do now? I didn’t think this would actually work!”

There’s also the very real fear that this success will be short-lived. To me, this fear is the most real, especially given the work I do: comic convention season only runs for so long, you know. And by the time Christmas rolls around, there’s no freelance work, and there’s no comicons (aside from quarterly trade shows, which I admit, I haven’t tried yet).

So I think that will be my next step – to face the fear of success and say, “How can I make this last?”

How do I make this success extend all year long, and not keep it seasonal?

I’ll be at the drawing board, of course – not just to draw, but to cook up some new plans.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

This Week Has Been Crappy

Yo!

This week started pretty rocky – I didn’t announce it except to my personal friend groups, but I had a colonoscopy on Tuesday. My doctor wanted to make sure that, given my symptoms, I wasn’t having any internal bleeding or experiencing symptoms of a more chronic illness like Chron’s disease. The test came back saying there were no signs of anything bad, which is…weird. And also a bit of a letdown. If you know ANYTHING about the prep work needed for a colonoscopy, you know it’s a lot of misery, and to go through all of that just for a test to come back negative has me a bit miffed. Happy that there’s no debilitating issues, but miffed that I went through a lot of metaphorical crap for a lot of nothing.

On the more positive side, there are some great gigs getting lined up, both online and offline. This is REALLY good news because mom and her boyfriend have moved out of the house. Not fully – their RV campsite hasn’t turned the water on yet because Ohio keeps snowing in April. However, the extra gigs will come in handy to help cover the raised rent when they DO fully move out.

So that’s what’s been happening this week. What’s coming up?

Well, I’m making a separate Patreon post about that. Don’t worry – when it posts, it’ll be public viewing.

Thank you for your patience with me.

You. Are. Awesome.