The holidays are over and slowly but surely, things are slowly returning to the normal, whatever that is. Slowly trying to back into the groove can be a painstaking process, especially after being out of grind for a bit.
For creatives, we’re not only mustering up energy and focus to be at work, but creativity and motivation. January is typically slow. Galleries are closed. Theaters and stage have less traffic. People all around seem to be in recovery mode from the holidays; physically, emotionally and even financially.
It’s not strange to see things moving at a slower pace at this time. But this could perhaps be the best time for creatives to take things off the to do list, and perhaps even redefine their work.
Update your paperwork. Having a current CV, resume and portfolio is vital to your career. The winter downtime is perfect to do this. With the holidays behind us, and many others in downtime, or too focused on getting back on track, there is far fewer chances for distractions or events. Even general socializing can be fairly minimal at this time when half the country is too busy staying warm to go outside. What’s more, you can do this work while you yourself is covered up under a heap of blankets on the couch.
Make sure your CV should include important shows from the past year with samples of work updates in the portfolio.
Draw from your life. The winter and holidays can be a taxing time of the year – physically, mentally and emotionally. However, these experiences, whether good or bad, shouldn’t be wasted. Use your experiences, pleasant and not, as a catalyst for new work. Some of the best work is taken from real life examples. Even dreadful experiences many want to forget can become an emotionally charging piece of work – for the artist, writer or even performer.
Edvard Munch’s inspiration for “The Scream” resulted from feeling ill and anxiety.
I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature. – diary in an entry headed “Nice 22 January 1892”
Plan your coming year. Though this may seem obvious, it is something that many forget to do. Your plan should be an outline of milestones and vital deadlines, rather than listing specifics. When specific actions aren’t accomplished, it can be disheartening and easier to lose focus on other goals.
Listing generalities will help push you get active and shrug off the winter blues. You want to slowly work your way up back. Think of it as a warm up or training session.
This outline can be revamped during the spring and early summer. Once you’re performing in high caliber, you can focus on specific actions needed during the busy season.
Review your past year. The new year is the best time to reflect on the past year. Many companies have performance reviews of their employees to make sure their organization performs at a certain level.
As a creative, many of us work on our own, or in small collectives. This makes it even more vital to assess the past year to properly plan for the coming year.
Is there feedback from industry professionals that was received? Did recent work receive favorable or unfavorable reviews? Is our space appropriate? Were there any resources we lacked that would have been advantageous?
Learning from recent success and failures can help to scale our projects to plan for the year. This helps to minimize chances that we over exceed or under perform.
Sweat the small talk. Instead of binging on Netflix marathons, it might be helpful to send out some emails, or calls to the industry professionals relevant to your career, business owners, managers, agents, editors, marketers, curators, etc. It allows an opportunity to catch up with your sphere of influence and also serves as a reminder to them about you and your work.
My dentist sends out postcards every few months to remind me about getting checked up or to come in for a cleaning. This postcard in some cases resulted in me scheduling an appointment to come in. It’s a call to action.
You want to let others know you around, ready and willing to work, and hopefully offer work or potential referral. Depending on the contact, how well you know them and some other factors, a phone call, email or coffee meet up is a safe bet. Even better, extend an invitation for them to visit to the studio, workshop or stage.
Stay active. Winter is infamous for bringing on anxiety, depression or just a general ‘eh’ type of feeling. Staying active is essential to warding off negativity as well as keeping your energy levels up.
Though the gym is not for many of us, and admittedly, it’s rare for me to bump into an artist or writer at the gym – but there are many other activities to help keep you active.
Plan an afternoon at the museum or perhaps go for a walk. Perhaps surrounding yourself by other masterpieces or the energy of a bustling city will help spur your creative juices.
Whatever it is, just be sure to do something! It might be cold out. The new season for your favorite show starts. Maybe you’re just tired from the holidays. These are all just excuses. The more you put off, the more you’ll need to catch up.
About the author(s)
Clara Beaulieu is a contributing writer and performance artist working in Europe and Asia. Clara is currently managed by Viable Studios.