When You Have to Work a Day Job

It's excruciating, I know. You sit all day at your desk, gnawing at your fingernails while simultaneously pretending not to be on Facebook and trying to get "real" work done; when all you really want to do is rush home to your dream life: creating.

I experienced severe Dayjobitis (yep, just made that up) last year, when I was teaching English in Korea. I had most of my lesson planning done, so not much reason to hang around the office - but plenty of reasons ($$$) to keep trucking in the classroom. Teaching gave me a free apartment and a split shift - a blessing and a curse - which tied me down and didn't free me to quit my non-creative job.

How do you balance your day job and your creative job?

What does it look like, day to day, when worked out in tandem?

For those of you who find working your "real" job (the one that pays the bills) and your creative outlet job impossible, here's a run-down of how I made it happen for a year before I escaped to creative bliss:

7am - Wake up, eat breakfast, head to work

8am - Class

9am - More class

10am - Pointless office hours

11am - Teaching, teaching, teaching

12am - 5 minutes for lunch

1pm - More teaching

2pm - Depending on the day, even more teaching

3pm - Walk home

3:15pm - Pig out on junk food

3:30pm Sit down to Netflix and painting

6pm - Back to work to teach for 2 more hours

8pm - Walk home (again)

8:30pm - Dinner

9:00pm - Painting until bedtime at 11:30

If you add that all up, I had a grand total of 5 hours that I could devote to making art. It's possible! Granted, I didn't struggle with certain daily headaches like sitting in traffic forever. Because I lived on campus, going from home to work and back was a cinch, by walking or bike.

Maybe your day looks a bit different. Most normal people (don't move to Korea and get a job teaching English, but rather) get a 9-5 job and spend an hour on either end of that commuting. That's 8am-6pm that you are not creating. Which brings me to the next dilemma. When you are exhausted from being at work all day, how are you supposed to come home and work more?

How to stay motivated to make art when you don't have the energy/inspiration? I know your day at the office probably sucked the life out of you. Here are some ways to keep yourself ready to go, creativity-wise, when you get home.

1. Listen to podcasts during your commute or at work (when you are allowed) I've been tuning into "Creative Peptalk" by Andrew J. Miller aka Dr. Pizza, and it's been lighting the fire under my bum to keep thinking business/art thoughts, along with staving off discouragement. This podcast is the best for the creative entrepreneur!

2. Watch Youtube tutorial videos pertaining to your craft. If you can't be making it in real time, you might as well be picking up tips that will inspire you to try a new technique or angle.

3. If you are a business owner and your inbox is constantly full of orders from clients - do this work in your free time! This is a no-brainer. If this is not the case for you, skip to the next step. Otherwise, please continue reading...

There might be more difficult things to coordinate, such as sending orders out in a timely fashion. Bring these packages to work and send them out during lunch. Or, you can arrange for the Post Office/UPS/FedEx to pick up your parcels from your doorstep. Be resourceful, don't be a victim of the excuse, "I don't have the time!"

4. Give yourself a daily art challenge. This one is easier said than done. It takes a lot of self-discipline to stick to a schedule. You could choose a 5 day, 10 day, or 30 day art challenge. There are tons of challenges to choose from online. Whether you find them through Google or Pinterest, find something that makes you excited to keep working.

Now that I have had the great joy of working from home and focusing my energies solely on my art, I know how amazing it can be. Quitting your day job is terribly freeing! (But also comes with a certain amount of insecurity, because suddenly your income could change and thus your self esteem, and if earning money is what your self esteem is tied to...then maybe you quit too early, or you have some soul-searching to do. But that's for another blog post.)

I'm not telling your to quit your day job. Not at all! Some of us, we creative types, do not yet have the luxury of shrugging off bi-weekly paychecks and benefits. Some of us need health insurance provided by the big businesses we are chained to! I only wish to encourage you to not let the creative spark go out. Don't be bogged down by the idea that you have no time. I promise that you do, you Facebook/Instagram/Tumblr/Pinterest Surfer. If you have the time to be a social media junkie, you have all that time to invest in your craft.

Go forth, my wonderful, creative friends! Go forth and be productive with your life!

Marni Manning - Artist

Join the e-mailing list
I agree to receive monthly email updates from Marni Manning Art