Sometimes It’s Just About the Joy

I’ve been talking a lot here lately about work: getting your name out there as an artist, submitting a proposal, writing for publication. All of that is important, but sometimes we all need to step back and little and remember what it was that got us here in the first place. Oh, sure: there are some people who sat down one day and said, “Hmmmm. I wonder what I can do to make some money without ever having to get out of my pajamas,” and then set about becoming an artist or a writer. Maybe they were even successful at it. Who knows?

For most of us, though, it wasn’t a plan. It’s something we’ve been doing as long as we can remember, and there’s no way we’re ever going to be able *not* to do it. I have the first thing I ever wrote: a diary entry when I was five and my dad had just taught me how to print. In all capitals, I might add, much to the irritation of my kindergarten and first-grade teachers. I don’t have the first thing I ever made, but I’m guessing it involved an empty toilet paper roll, some pipe cleaners (now called, I think, “chenille stems”), and a couple rubber bands. I have no idea what it was, but it surely involved these because pretty much everything I made back then involved these same few things. My dad smoked a pipe–what can I say?

No matter what you do for a living, whether it’s accounting or nursing or making art or writing novels, or whether you write or make art as a profession or for shows, there comes a time when you have to do what you  love to do not for a client or a gallery or a deadline, but just for the sheer joy. Whether you make art as a career or just for yourself, sometimes you have to do it just because it’s fun, without any pressure or preconceived outcome or anything. Just because it’s what you love to do and because it brings you joy.

Because that’s what it’s all about, really: the joy. It’s not about the money or the fame, the sales or the followers or the licensing agreements. And if it *is* about any of those, then when did that happen? When did making something with words or paint, wood or metal or paper–when did it cease to be about the fun of making and become something else?

Ah, no matter–you don’t really need to answer that question. And you don’t really need to pin down what happened or when it changed. Nope. All you need to do is to stop for a minute and think about what you’d make if nobody cared, if no one else was ever going to see it, and if you were going to work on it just for fun. Just for you. Just for the joy.

Then do whatever you can to carve out some time in the evenings or before breakfast or during your coffee breaks to make it happen. Carry it with you or stash it behind the kitchen door where you can get to it. Put the sketches in your wallet or tuck the first draft inside your briefcase–somewhere where you can’t miss it. You owe it to yourself to start a little project that isn’t about anything but pure, singing joy. Today would be a good day to get started.


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3 Responses to Sometimes It’s Just About the Joy

  1. debdugan says:

    Today is a good day to get started! Sometimes it is just about the joy of doing what ever it is and occasionally I forget that and wonder what the heck I’m doing. Thank you for this well-timed reminder 😀

  2. thienkim says:

    I agree! While I don’t make my living from my art, I’ve resisted my friends urging to sell my wares. Making art is an outlet for me. I do it to relax. If I start selling my work, I would feel like I’m creating just to make sure I have inventory or what the customer wants might affect how I create.