We all know what we’re signing up for when we decide to pursue a creative career in the entertainment industry – unpredictable employment, putting all of ourselves into projects that may or may not move forward, having periods of time when we’re so busy we can’t see straight and, inevitably, experiencing down times when we have no idea where our next paycheck is coming from. Of course, all of that often feels worth it because of the creative fulfillment and dynamic, ever-changing opportunities – we can’t imagine doing anything else.
So let’s say you have a great stretch – a run of jobs that not only fulfill you creatively but also covers the rent and then some. Fantastic! But all good things come to an end, and most likely you will find yourself in a lull between jobs at some point. So how do you use that time to your advantage – to reset and rejuvenate – instead of spending it pacing and wringing your hands, anxious for the phone to ring?
It may be tempting to scramble for your next job in whatever form that might take, but I would highly suggest doing what you can do enjoy that extra time. There are natural cycles to our work, and the downswing is just as vital to the process as the upswing.
To start, I would recommend scheduling any appointments for your physical wellness. This could be anything from seeing your doctor for a check up, going to the dentist, getting some body work done from an excellent masseuse, having your eyes checked, splurging on a facial, or any number of other “maintenance” type of work. When we’re busy and feeling good, it’s easy to skip this these kinds of things, dismissing them as unnecessary – but this type of health maintenance can catch little things early so they don’t prevent you from taking work in the future.
Next, and equally important, is feeding your mind and soul. This could look like seeing a therapist, setting up lunch dates with great friends, taking a weekend away, cooking a great meal, going on a hike, attending a show, staying in bed all day with a good book, or visiting an art museum. These sorts of leisure activities often fall by the wayside when we’re swamped with work, but they’re essential to refilling the well. You could even keep a list of the fun activities you wish you had time for when you’re busy with a gig, so you can dive right in when your schedule shifts. We’re writers! We need to experience life in order to have new things to write about.
As a writer, when I come off of a string of work, I often find that I want to do anything BUT write. And that’s okay! Do I feel guilty if I don’t jump directly into a project of my own? Sometimes. (Hey, I’m working on it.) But I’m learning to tune in to that delicate balance of needing self-care vs tough love – check out this fantastic piece on the subject, as well as the discussion John and Craig had on this episode of Scriptnotes. As a creative in the entertainment industry, much of our work often needs to be instigated ourselves – but that doesn’t mean you can keep pushing relentlessly without recharging. Being able to identify when you’re tipping from tough love to needing self-care and vice versa is key.
I love the energy of this time of year – a natural end and a new beginning of the calendar, regardless of what else is going on in my life. I make sure to take the time to reflect on the previous year – my intentions, the surprising opportunities that came my way, the new collaborations I embarked on. And I spend time looking forward at what I would like to manifest, which projects I plan to prioritize, and how I’d like to use the finite time and energy at my disposal. There is usually a lot of reconnecting with friends and family this time of year, which I find grounding and often reinvigorates my commitment to the stories I want to tell.
So check in with yourself – what do you need right now? Do you require nourishment for some of your physical and emotional needs? Or have you taken some down time and are feeling the desire to forge ahead, ready and excited to jump into a new project? I’d love to hear from you! Please share what you do to reset by sending me a tweet.
Thank you so much for being part of the Ms in the Biz community. Wishing you a peaceful end of 2019, and I’ll see you next year!