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.

Blogging Every Day in November?!

holy banana pants johnson and sir ackles

Yeah, it’s pretty bananas, I know.

Even though I’ve been feeling sick lately, I’ve also been feeling a creative slump. When I sit down at the drafting table to draw, I either can’t focus or I can’t muster up the energy draw the thing that’s in front of me.

It’s not just election bullshit, either; it’s the day job scheduling me so I have to get up at 3:30 am (which no sane human being should ever be obligated to do so). It’s trying to handle KickStarter, TWO Patreons, two webcomics, and freelance gigs on top of the day job. And trying to do all of that while trying to remember to eat and sleep. And shower. Grace bless whoever invented showers.

“But,” I can hear you say, “if you have all that shit to do, why blog every day? Wouldn’t that be more work?”

Yes and no.

Yes, on the surface, it seems like more work, but to me, it’s a good way to purge whatever is up in my brain part to make room in the brain part for new ideas. I’m doing this to kick-start the creative juices.

It’s also a good way to keep track of the work I’m doing, and bringing you along for the ride so maybe you can get some ideas.

As far as comics or works-in-progress goes, that’ll all be Patreon-exclusive. So instead, I’ll be blogging about ideas, stories I’ve wanted to share, new books and comics I’m reading, and I GUESS I’ll do list posts. But if I’m going to do a list post, it’s going to be how I want to do one, not just obligatory traffic-boosting clickbait.

If that all sounds like your cup of tea (and I’ll be writing about tea, also), stay tuned and come back tomorrow! (Maybe tomorrow’s post will be about tea… Maybe. Possibly.)

Thank you for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.

So How’s the Writing So Far?

writing sketch
Sketched in Manga Studio.

December has hit, and it made me think of the goals I put in place last year and how they’ve panned out during 2015.

I wrote about my goals in an old post, but to sum up, I have four daily goals in mind. Everyday I would…

  • Write 1000 words
  • Draw 2 Sketchbook Pages
  • Walk/Exercise
  • Practice Spanish

I’ll talk about the progress of my other goals over the next few days, but today I just want to talk about Writing 1000 words everyday. Continue reading “So How’s the Writing So Far?”

The Perils of World-Building

the final page of johnson and sir
Ah, the final page of Johnson & Sir.

The other day I was on YouTube, and I came across this video about world-building. It starts out innocent enough, talking about world-building and how it applies to Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, etc…

But then it suddenly takes a left turn and talks about world-building and its use in politics, and I thought, “THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED.”

This guy talked about the perils of world-building in politics instead of the perils of it in literature, and I am MUCH more interested in the latter. So that’s what I’ll be talking about today. Continue reading “The Perils of World-Building”