Ten writers for children. All with something to say.
Foraging vs reaping
This round we're posting about the conditions that contribute to our best work. Like Stephanie, who wrote about distractions and procrastination, I first want to focus on what prevents me from working at my highest level.
As a self-employed creator, I need to hunt and gather for my livelihood. When I was offered my first book to illustrate, back in the early 90s, I worked as an art director for Four Winds Press. It was a part time position. I worked three days in-house, leaving me the other four days to create. This was an ideal situation for me. When Simon & Schuster bought out Macmillan, there was no longer an option to work part time. I had a fledgling illustration career started—this was the whole reason I'd gone to NYC; I knew a full time art director position would not allow sufficient left-over time for my own work. I have been freelance art directing/designing and illustrating/writing since the mid-90s. When I have a lot of work lined up into the future (stockpiles from hunting) is when I'm most productive; only then am I not agitated about finances. When work is scarce, I need to devote more energy to foraging, less to reaping. Foraging seems to scatter my energies. I try to cover too much ground. I'm considering part time employment again to address this issue. If I can be still enough, centered in one place, then I can harvest.
Playing out this analogy, it also helps to have great farmers—trusted writers groups, an editor who knows how to fertilize what is best and weed out the worst, makes for the heartiest crop. My best work comes when I have this community of support.