Seven Days of Self-Employment

My First Week Trying to be a Full-Time Artist

You ever do something really stupid/awesome? Like quit your job with the goal of somehow making a living from doing the things you love every day? Nah, you wouldn’t do that because you’re smart! I, on the other hand, am not.

Well, in case you were wondering what would go through your mind if you were to toss stability out the window and cling to your creative powers for a living you are in luck.

Day One

You are filled with creative zest and vigor. The world is your oyster–or something like that. You’ve grabbed life by the horns, and doggonit, you’re going to teach it a thing or two about being the architect of your own future.

Day Two

Given that you didn’t actually accomplish much of anything on Day One, you are now hit with the reality of your lack of consistent income.

Google has become your best friend. You might learn from others who have ventured down this path. You will surely find blog after blog of “How I made 10K My First Month of Blogging.” Avoid that nonsense. You are a true artist and you are not looking for a get-rich-quick scheme.

…but if someone would pay you for your slightly haphazard blog posts, you wouldn’t turn it down.

Day Three

You have 600 ‘To Do’ lists detailing each move you could make to promote your art. You’ve started three blogs, a Facebook page, an Instagram account, a Pinterest board, Google¬†+ profile, journaled your feelings, called your mother for a pep talk, watched an entire season of Gilmore Girls while you stared at a blank canvas, and reorganized your underwear drawer.

A clear plan of what to do with your life still eludes you.

Day Four

You slept funny the night before. You dreamed someone siphoned all the money from your savings account which reminded you that your mortgage is due next week. You managed to doodle a bit that morning, but then questioned the purpose of life. Is it degrading to sell yourself? Will anyone understand your art?

How will you feed the children?! …But you don’t actually have children. Regardless, it feels like something you should worry about.

Your previously abundant creative drive has now withered. Oh, the pressure!

Day Five

Your creativity has not returned.

Think happy thoughts. You are told you are overthinking things. “Just breathe,” they say. “Get some exercise. Yoga fixes LITERALLY everything.”

At the end of the day, you take note of the peace and quiet in your mind. So. Fricking. QUIET.

Day Six

You are determined to accomplish something tangible. You angrily type away, writing your masterpiece of a memoir. Detailing your childhood and why you are incapable of functioning like a normal human being. Artists are supposed to be damaged and full of angst, right?

You delete your memoir.

You make some tea. You sit in silence. You wallow in a little bit of self-pity.

Day Seven

You gain some clarity. Why did you quit your job? To do what you love. Why do you love what you do? Because it is meaningful. It is worth doing. Are you going to be an overnight success story? Probably not.

Can you be content with maybe accomplishing mediocre success over the next six to twelve months? Yeah, that’s probably a reasonable goal to aim for.

You magically start doing things. You turn your music up really loud so you can imagine a montage of your future progress.

Congrats. You survived week one.


A note from 2022: I wrote this in November of 2016. It’s been 6 years and I am so grateful that I went down this path. I’m also grateful to have this blog post to look back on. Yes, you can make a living from your art.