Creative Anarchy And The 9 To 5
Creative Anarchy and the 9 to 5
At times I am assaulted by the thought of how wondrous people’s ability to create truly is.
As random as the thought itself might seem, it usually occurs to me right after I have particularly enjoyed the fruits of creative labour, a very good exhibition (I will fill out a comment card) or a rousing film (I will sit through the entire credit sequence and try to read as many names as possible).
A lot of people working within creative professions have associated their work with freedom. The freedom perhaps to work with other artists they admire or with clients that appreciate them or on projects they like. This of course assumes a certain success first, a lot of people in creative professions have to take what they can get, too.
There are other kinds of freedom, such as an author’s freedom to just let an idea unfurl, or the very personal experience of writing a song.
The freedom to create something from nothing.
Often artistic types are fond of saying they work in their chosen profession because they “could never work in a 9 to 5”, that their need for variety is greater than that for stability, and other such things that imply a certain grade of escapism from what we think of as a normal work schedule.
Interesting then, that a lot of creative work, while not following the 9 to 5 pattern, yet of course has some sort of schedule and is hardly an unpredictable thrill ride most of the time.
Sure, you need to need to be flexible and you definitely have to posses the stamina for the so-called ‘unsociable work hours’, but seeing humans are creatures of habit, those of us writing, sculpting and drawing, too have found a rhythm to what we are doing, freelance or not.
One of the first things I learnt about being a writer, for example, was that I needed to find the time of day that would allow me to write, focused and largely undisturbed, for a long period of time. (Unsurprisingly, it’s rather late in the evening. I live in a council flat.) Then I needed to discipline myself into keeping up this pattern.
In other jobs the fact that we would be fired immediately if we made a habit of not turning up to work disciplines us quite quickly, and for those that don’t work from home, I believe it’s the support of those in background positions, those closer to the business side of creative jobs, that influence our schedules.
A theatre producer has to work with stage management, an author with his or her editor.
Not only does this tell us something about how we purposefully and unwittingly schedule our work, it also makes it clear how no creative venture is the work of only one person.
Many creative professions heavily rely on team work, just think of the huge teams involved in film-making. The creative talent involved, those we think of as the once with the ‘exciting’ work schedules such as actors, do in fact nothing by themselves but adhere to project production schedules.
So as freeing as it sounds to be a creative worker, as freeing as it certainly is in some aspects, it does have a schedule. 9 to 5, 5 to 9, 10 to 6, 5 to 1, 7 to 6….