When I quit my day job a few years ago to start working from home as a full time artist I was more than a little terrified, and to say that I was overwhelmed would be an egregious understatement.
Suddenly, I had twenty four hours a day that were unequivocally my own, and while that is a luxury I appreciate, it wasn't always easy. In high school and college, I thrived on being over-scheduled because it meant that every moment was precious; I was pushed and pushed to squeeze my best into whatever time was available to me. I simply didn't have time to wallow in my perfectionism (a fear that a thing won't turn out 'just so' often keeping me from beginning a project in the first place), or put everything on the back burner in favor of sleeping all day in a mild depression. Needless to say, wallowing and sleeping happened a lot in my first year at home.
All the while two things were happening: I both had too much to do (making it hard to focus and prioritize), and nothing to do (which really meant, I couldn't think of anything I felt like doing). And so I sat down to make a list of what would become my Daily Try.
I have a lot of lists- including one for self care that reminds me to do simple things like brush my hair every day, eat breakfast, get dressed, and meditate. Some of these things, like breakfast, are essential, but I try not to beat myself up if I don't get around to a tarot card reading or I don't have the energy for my usual workout.
The Daily Try is similar, but it focuses on my professional endeavors, serving as a spring board for all of the possibilities in my studio on any given day. It's a list of all of the skills and talents I have honed over the years, which means it has a bonus effect of reminding me in a humble brag sort of way of my accomplishments. It says "These are the things you are capable of doing! These are the things that you love! Do them!" I printed it out on card stock and laminated it with packing tape so you know I mean business, but I can also change it any time I want, because it truly is only about me. No comparisons to any one else, nothing about what other people think I should be doing.
And each element on my list is multi-faceted. Drawing and painting lean towards business: I can sell prints and zines of my work for money, but there are plenty of drawings I do just for me. I used to run my business primarily as a weaver, selling home woven textiles online and at local craft fairs; now, weaving is purely a personal pleasure. 'Move' is so vague it can mean any number of things, from dancing as stress relief and remembering to take breaks to the movement of my body spinning wool with a drop spindle.
The best part about The Daily Try? It's only a suggestion. I can literally do every single thing on my list or absolutely nothing and the world will not end and I will still be a good person. It's true. Though it took me a long time to understand that.
The list moves around with me. Sometimes it's tucked into my day planner; right now it's propped up against my computer monitor as I write. I don't look at it every day, because sometimes my motivation is through the roof and I don't need any help. But it's always there for me when I need it, like an old friend, whispering something like, "Hey, maybe you want to bind a book today. Maybe not. Spin some yarn? It's your choice."
You can never fail if you just remember to try.
Rachel Beckman is a writer and multi-disciplinary artist from Baltimore, MD. She lives and works at home with her graphic designer husband and her fluffy white dog familiar.