I hate talking about work, but I feel obligated to do so if I wish to set up this post properly. My day job is in marketing. A common problem among my people is finding the time to be creative. Client at ABC Company wants to sell more of whatever bullshit they sell. They come to you for help. Do you know how to help them? No, you don’t have a damn clue. But, if you drink a coffee, surf the internet, sit on the toilet and pace around the office just long enough, you might figure it out. Your idea can make the client a lot of money.
But it takes time to have good ideas.
Your client probably pays by the hour and you probably have lots of clients. If you have more good ideas than your co-workers, you’ll get even more clients. This means the available time for coming up with good ideas diminishes greatly.
Now your ideas aren’t that good, they are just coherent enough to qualify as an idea. They are probably a rehash of the same thing you’ve been doing for a couple years. This is how GEICO keeps doing ads with that stupid pig.
This same general problem plays out with us in the music world all the time. We get busy. Life sucks. There are bills and spouses and kids and friends and family members and asshole neighbors. There is work, which is the worst thing that can happen to a creative person.
All of this means less time to do what you love.
Suddenly, you find yourself doing horrible things like scheduling time on the calendar to play guitar. It’s usually in the neighborhood of an hour a week. If you’re lucky.
This should be a sin. If you can pin this horrible situation on any one person other than yourself, kill that person now. They’ve destroyed your life. Recovery is impossible.
Why? Because that hour will get you nowhere. You’re going to put way too much pressure on yourself to create beautiful and amazing music on demand and that’s not possible. It has nothing to do with your practice routine or theory studying or anything. It has everything to do with the fact that being creative does not follow a calendar.
Eventually, you’re going to get tired of pointlessly noodling for an hour a week and it will become once a month. Then, not at all. You’ll get angry every time you see your guitars collecting dust and just want to sell them. Trying to sell them will make you more angry/depressed. You’ll want to throw them away just to get it all over with quickly.
Yes. This is a depressing post.
It doesn’t have to be, but if this situation is familiar to you, there’s little hope without drastic measures. What I hate is, there are so many stupid time management tips out there that offer no help. If I were one of the countless jerks that blog because it’s a trendy way to get affiliate clicks, I’d give you a top 10 list of ways to find time for creativity. That’s not me and is not happening here.
Most folks going down this road will give up on all their creative pursuits. It will become stories of when I used to have a band or something like that. You’ll occasionally jam out a Beatles song at a party, but only one, and it will be pre-Sgt Pepper. Most of your new and boring friends will assume you learned this during music class in middle school.
Your lowest moment will come when your kid picks up an instrument for fun. Not only will you be unable to play along with them, but they’ll think you’re an old and pathetic loser for trying. Suicide is the only logical next step. Embrace it.
Sorry, that got a little too dark…
So what the hell are you supposed to do?
Rather than trying to carve out little slivers of time for yourself when you know it’s not going to happen, think much bigger.
Why don’t you have time? Fix that.
In the past, when I’ve been beaten down by the day job, I’ve told my boss what I think I can get done in 40-ish hours a week. A lot of my responsibilities did not fit in that time window. I simply said, these tasks would not get done. I was prepared to get fired over that discussion.
It worked in my favor for a while, but it was a shitty job, so things returned to shitty. I quit.
Every employee is replaceable, so why not every job? If you’re good at what you do, there are always options to do that thing elsewhere. If you’re not good at anything, then you can take just about any job. Does it mean you may have to move? Live in a smaller place? Maybe. But if you’re infinitely happier because you have time to do what you love, who cares?
I don’t mean this as oversimplification. There are always other options, we just convince ourselves we’re stuck.
I write all this for two reasons.
One, because I’m suffering from this problem myself. It’s the reason I’ve been posting so infrequently. I’m trying to fix my situation quickly and will succeed. But this topic is near and dear to me.
Two, because today I saw this:1
This made me angry.
The interfering girlfriend is one of the oldest clichés for why bands break up. We’ve all experienced it to some degree. We usually blame the friend for getting too caught up in getting laid, or blame the girlfriend/wife for being a controlling bitch.
These are short term problems. What our party-dude friend is outlining goes much deeper. He’s talking about destroying lives.
Dramatic? Maybe. But the more I thought about this, the angrier I got. Because other people don’t do this to us, we do it to ourselves. People stick with that dream-destroying spouse, probably because they know they’ll never achieve our dreams and it’s a good excuse. Yeah, that overbearing soul-crusher is probably a bad person. But if you’re with one, it’s your choice.
Wasn’t I making a point?
My point is, if this story applies to you, please take dramatic action. Again, quit your job, dump your girlfriend/boyfriend, move to another house/city/state/country. Don’t play the things will get better game, because things usually don’t unless you make them that way. Most importantly, don’t blame this stuff on anyone but yourself.
- Random note – I have no idea who Andrew W.K. is. I had to look him up on Wikipedia. I am not certain if he actually said this, but it appears to be on his official Facebook page. ↩