Creation vs Marketing

Untitled Seascape #2 © Sarah Marie Lacy, 2010

Untitled Seascape #2 © Sarah Marie Lacy, 2010. Oil on canvas, 12"x16"

Well things have been interesting since the last time I wrote. (Has it really been a week already?)

There’s been some hard stuff, but I’m not ready to talk about that yet. Maybe soon.

Jesse’s gone home to visit family, and I’m spending the next 2 weeks alone, for the first time ever. It’s taking me a while to adjust, but I’m getting used to being the only voice in the house.

Also, someone smashed my bedroom window with the side view mirror from a car at 3am on Saturday night. Yeah. That was fun. We were lucky that no one got hurt, but there was a hole the size of 2 soccer balls in my gorgeous bay window. Drunken idiots*. That’s all fixed now though.

*As you can imagine, those were not the words I used on Saturday night.

Things seem to be back to normal now though, and with the house all to myself, I’ve been thinking lots about routines, productivity and balance.

Business vs Creation

It seems that I can’t ever balance the two. I’m either in extreme creative mode where I’m painting for 3-6 hours a day, or I’m in business mode where I’m marketing my work, blogging regularly, promoting on Twitter, sending out my newsletter. But it’s either one or the other. It’s impossible for me to do both in the same day, or even the same month. I can’t find any sort of balance between the two.

I’d really like some kind of structure there, some kind of routine, where new work is constantly being created but where I can also put a decent amount of energy into building my career. Things like artist’s statements, bios, resumes, grant applications, outside of my online marketing activities, all need to be written.

Yet without new work, the marketing is useless. And while I’m painting much, much more often, I’m still struggling with completing anything. Sigh. So maybe that’s part of the problem too. There are a million new pieces littering my studio, but very few are finished, outside of a few studies. I think I’d just noodle forever if I could (oh wait, I do.)

I think part of the problem is that when I’m not painting, I’m working for other people. Not that I’m complaining – I work for 2 very excellent people – but it does impose a time constraint, another parameter to the problem.

I’m looking for flow in my days. Ideally, there would be a nice flow between creating, marketing what I create and working for other people. I may be asking for the impossible here, but I don’t think so. It’s a matter of experimenting with different routines and schedules.

Admittedly, I get jealous sometimes, reading about other entrepreneurs’ whose basic goal is marketing, and that their product is their marketing. I just can’t seem to find that balance. I find that I’m constantly running out of time. Oh that never ending to-do list.

So how do you handle it? How do you balance your marketing and your art, or whatever your creative thing is? Have you find flow? Some kind of a routine? Or have you just accepted that the two will never be in balance and that some months you promote more than you create.

I’m curious how other artists handle this dilemma. Sometimes I feel like my business is so divided, so split up, that I’ll never be able to reconcile the two. But obviously there must be a way, because there are artists who are making a living, and it sure as hell ain’t fairy dust that’s making that happen.

So thoughts! What do you do? Do you struggle with the same things? Have you found something that works for you? Leave ‘er in the comments!


Current Bids

  1. says

    Sarah, I will never really conquer working for other people, painting, writing, and being a housewife. I understand your dilemma completely.

    Recently, my husband and I began using a work-management technique to handle the house and my workload. Every day, we meet for 15 minutes (standing so we don’t get comfortable). We first talk about what things I accomplished today. What do I plan to accomplish tomorrow, and what things got in the way of my productivity.

    There’s no finger pointing, blame (self or otherwise). Just evaluation. Some days, I get in the way because I’m too tired or can’t focus, but most days I get things done on my list and feel pretty good about them.

    Yesterday was a super productive day – painted, cooked meals for the week, took a walk. Today, I had planned to paint, but my blog went out and I didn’t get to the studio.

    Tonight at our “stand up” 15 minute meeting, I’ll list what got in my way and then I’ll come up with a proposed solution to try next time a similar thing happens. I don’t need to feel bad or guilty – just try something else out next time. Or maybe just take one day off a week to do “whatever”.

    The neat thing is that as my husband reviewed all the tasks I’m trying to keep up with, he realized that I’m overwhelmed and he decided to take on some of those tasks himself. Now we’ll both be overwhelmed, but at least we can commiserate!

    Hope you make good progress. Hang in there.

  2. says

    I found your site through your interview with Magpie Girl. I actually googled Chronically Creative because I wanted to use that title for a workshop I’m developing on using art to manage pain and chronic disability. I instead have named the class Chronically Inspired which seems more fitting because it has to do with listening, looking and learning even when you feel incapacitated. Anyway, I love your work and story. I took a class here in Portland Oregon from Carolyn Campbell, an artist and coach, who encouraged me to look at marketing as an art in itself that requires creative energy. It’s also building relationships and sharing stories. She coached students to spend one day a week on the art of marketing and find a way to compare it to the other aspects of your creative life. I found this very helpful.
    Also, when I was being treated for Manic/Depressive disorder, my dear doctor gave me lots of ways to use the polar energies to come up with lots of ideas (in the manic side) and do the grunt work behind them (in the depressive side). The nice thing about grunt work is you can take naps when you need to. Good luck and thanks for bringing beauty into the world.

  3. says

    I don’t think it’s expecting too much to think that balance is possible. :D You could be right about the working for someone else interfering with your flow — I know that when I worked for someone else, it interfered with mine. Things aren’t perfect now, but I do try to combine the creating with the promoting by letting some promoting spring naturally from my enthusiasm for whatever I’m creating. So if I’m spinning yarn, I’ll take a quick picture and then later that day post it on Flickr and tweet about it, or blog about it. And when I’m promoting, I usually *want* to take a break and do something more creative, so I’ll keep something to work on close at hand and poke at it occasionally. It doesn’t always work out that way, and I do have days where I do one or the other almost exclusively … but I try to put a little of both on my to-do list every day, and my life seems to be heading toward balance — slowly. ;)

  4. says

    Hi Sarah..I find if i do the business related things in the morning before i get into painting it works better. Once into “painthead”..its all over for the day…