My friend writes a column for a quarterly newsletter. The column profiles a notable member of the organization she's writing for. To prep for it she interviews the person by phone, emails with them and extensively researches their background. It takes hours of work, and that's all before getting down to the nitty-gritty of writing. The last time I called, it took a few days for her to get back to me. When she finally did, she was decompressing from the frantic scramble of submitting the column just before deadline. Turns out the subject had only scheduled their interview two days before her own deadline. Something, my friend, noted was typical.
"I give them a five-week time period to connect with me and they always wait until the last day."
So I asked the question that I felt was most obvious, "Why would you give them a deadline that ends just two days before your own?"
She laughed when I asked her that. In fact, she'd never thought about it doing it differently.
You see, my friend wasn't thinking about herself and her own deadline. She was focused on giving each person the most amount of time possible to get their materials to her. In doing so, she neglected to honor her own needs that would allow her to write the column without being rushed.
This is one of the biggest ways artists fail at taking care of themselves, by being overly accommodating to others.
What's worse is that most often the other person doesn't even realize you are accommodating them. Nothing like bending over backwards for someone who isn't aware of it!
So why is this a big deal? Because time after time I've seen artists get burnt out by over-giving. I've been there myself. There are a number of reasons we do this - from learned behavior to fear of potential conflict - and all those reasons end up ultimately coming back to bite us in the proverbial butt.
In the instance of my friend, this was to be the last column she wrote for the organization. The process exasperated her. Oh, and did I mention that this was volunteer work? OUCH.
Friends, please value your time and create boundaries that allow you to flourish. It will serve everyone in the long run. We need our artists more than ever on the planet. Self-care starts with the individual. The better we get at honoring our own creative needs, the more ultimate good we can do for the world.
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