Saturday, February 15, 2014

Freelancer Resolutions

A few inked pages from the book before logging & filing them.
It's been just over a month since my last post because things have been busy, but I think I just needed a wee break from the internet too. This post isn't so much an update as it is reassurance to readers that I am still alive. Alive and making changes to start living better.

Like usual, I'm busy with Photobooth: A Biography. I'm in the last stretch now and I feel great about the work and relieved that the end of this period is in sight. My tour and signing dates for May and June are all set and in the next couple months the plans for July and August should be confirmed too. Professionally, lots of things are moving and shaking but it's a little premature to share them now.

On a personal note, my winter holidays were a bit of a juggling act. It was wonderful to be home with my family but I was so swamped with my to-do list that I didn't get to take one full day off during the two weeks I was in Edmonton. I spent Christmas day inside working while my parents and siblings did fun activities. (That wasn't actually as bad as it sounds because my family celebrates the Solstice, not Christmas. But still, I will pout about it.) It sucks to have to work when everyone else is relaxing and there's no one to blame but myself. It's good ol' self-sabotage.

Being a freelancer can be difficult for so many reasons... lack of financial stability, no paid vacation time, no healthcare benefits, etc. But time management is obviously my biggest issue. When I get fully engrossed in a project, I view every minute of the day as a minute that I could be doing my creative work. I make detailed "time budgets" (that's what I call my daily schedules) and if at the end of the day, I haven't finished everything, I get upset with myself for how I may have wasted time by using Facebook for too long. Then I go to bed stressed, thinking about tomorrow's to-do list and sleep restlessly. These are obviously terrible habits.

I recently realized that I'm still learning how to be a freelancer. Maybe one of the reasons it can be so difficult for myself and others is that we didn't have any freelance role-models while growing up. There's just no one to emulate and learn from. Growing up, the adults I interacted with; my parents, my aunts and uncles, my teachers, my coaches, all had 9-5 type employment, mostly in offices. Later, during my BFA, there wasn't a class that covered the highs and lows of self-employment. I'm figuring this out as I go, so are most freelancers, so we have to remember to give ourselves a break sometimes.

After my bittersweet "holidays" it became apparent that I needed to set some serious New Year's resolutions. Self-care is at the top of the list, for me this means making time to 1. socialize and 2. exercise and 3. do not eat more than one frozen pizza per week.

1. I got in touch with the good people at Montreal Improv and have been performing with them once a week. At first it felt a little funny to be on stage again (after 3 1/2 years away) but it's not about the stage time anyway. It's about leaving my house, putting myself into a different mindset, hanging out with really fun people and laughing a whole bunch.  It's been an entirely positive experience and works for me because I can build the time into my weekly schedule.
Tonight's dinner, waiting for the oven to preheat.

2. I found the yoga studio I liked best near my house (there's about six all within a ten minute walk,) and signed up for classes. I've gone to one to three classes a week, depending on how busy I've been. I've really savored the exercise and the time to quiet my mind.

3. So far, so good.

I've learned a lot about creative work and about myself during this process. If in the future, I choose to make another 300 page graphic novel, I expect it will be A LOT easier. When this is all good and done I will make a list of the unexpected things that I learned as a reminder to myself and maybe it will be helpful for others too.