Number 16 – Zero to Sixty
I had a lovely conversation with a friend/colleague/collaborator earlier this week (those titles are often very hard to differentiate when working in theatre!). In it, we both talked about the feeling that we’re either travelling at zero miles per hour or we’re racing along at 60 miles per hour - rarely, if ever, do we feel like we can maintain a steady 30mph.
I’m sure this is the case for many creatives and, indeed, many freelancers, and I wonder how you all cope? Is it just a process of acceptance that this is the life you have chosen? The price you pay for the increased flexibility, for being your own boss and doing the work you (mostly) enjoy?
Maybe that is the case, but it’s not necessarily great for our mental health or the quality of work that we produce.
I wonder what mechanisms or routines can be put in place to help keep things ticking along at a steady 30mph?
I know I tend to go through fits and starts of self-generated activity. I’ll suddenly get a burst of positive optimistic energy and fire off loads of emails and reach outs. Only to find that the bastards all reply at once and I’ve suddenly got no time for anything anymore!!
The constant push and pull of freelance life is draining and it’s very difficult to balance your pushes with your pulls. And both pushing and pulling can be equally draining. In fact, some people will find the pushing tiring, where others will find the pulling the hardest. For the record, being pulled from multiple directions (get your mind out of the gutter…) tends to energise me – racing from one meeting to another, means I’m actually more likely to fire off that email or squeeze in that phone call. It’s when all of that stops that I struggle. When I have to summon up the energy to push out again. For others, it will be the complete reverse.
I wonder whether freelance life goes through these phases because it is very difficult to be both pushing and pulling at the same time? It’s easier to dedicate a chunk of time to one, then a chunk of time to the other. They are, after all, fundamentally opposing actions.
I don’t have any answers at this stage. So, if you do, please let me know! I’d love to hear how you avoid the repeated cycles of zero to sixty.