(Read through to the bottom to enter a giveaway for a free portfolio review!)
I have tried and failed to put this idea into words for years. YEARS. But I finally feel like I understand it well enough to talk about. So, let’s talk. Please. Talk this out with me.
I am a Creative Professional. I say it this way because, depending on the day, I fall into different roles: Photographer, Writer, Speaker, Educator, Philanthropist.
Depending on the day I might spend my hours writing emails and proposals, out in the forest taking pictures, writing blog posts (such as this very one!) and more.
It may surprise some people to learn that photography was not my first professional creative outlet; first, I was a filmmaker. Not a successful one, and not one who produced anything, but nonetheless, that was my goal. I worked for a couple of production companies and I have a degree from college that says “Filmmaking” on it.
When I began photography, I remember feeling a SENSE OF GUILT all the time. Every time I blew off hours that I could have spent furthering my career in film, I was instead gallivanting around taking pictures. It wasn’t until I started earning money from photography that I changed how I thought about it. The guilt went away because a photo shoot could equal a paycheck.
This is not to say that I was motivated by money – quite the opposite. Nothing stopped me from creating no matter if I was going to do it for free my whole life. What did change, however, was significant. I started to equate photography with money, and therefore I didn’t feel guilty about spending my time doing it.
Fast forward to now, 9 years after I started photography, and I’m pursuing writing. I had a book published years ago called Inspiration in Photography, and because it was published widely (and it was about photography), I didn’t feel guilty about writing it. It felt like proper work.
This piece of writing is different. It is an entire career shift.
[not leaving photography behind at all though!]
I’m writing a novel, and it takes hundreds upon hundreds of hours. I need to commit to the process, surrender to it. But, every time I started writing, or researching, or spending any significant amount of time on it, an old voice came back to haunt me:
it would say,
“you could be spending your time creating an image, or writing emails, or sending proposals.
This book stuff is ridiculous.
You’re wasting time.“
The real heart of what my alter ego was telling me is this: If you choose to spend your time doing something else, you’ll see a faster return on your investment. If you focus on what you already know works, you’ll gain more business, more money, more relationships, and more prestige.
I have always known what an absurd notion that is, but NONETHELESS, it doesn’t stop me from thinking it.
I’m just being honest here, because if I’m not, you might have a vision in your head of me pleasurably writing a novel
(obviously in which I’m wearing a sundress and wide-brimmed hat scribbling away in an old notebook in the French Riviera…)
(P.S. That’s not reality. I live in Arizona and it’s awesome but not French Riviera awesome. And I can’t write a novel with a pen because my brain moves too fast. And also, my hands would ache. Plus, I get cold easily. Back to the point…)
in an idealistic setting when that is not the case.
Everyday is a struggle to sit down and write. This is partially because writing is not just “sitting down and writing”. It is months of research, of brainstorming by staring at white walls, of saying ideas out loud and realizing they don’t make sense, of self-doubt and fear and anxiety. And sometimes, I write words down that make sense. About one in every thousand. And then I feel okay again.
The biggest obstacle I face in writing this book is the simple idea that I might be wasting my time.
How do we know?
For me it is simple and yet entirely difficult: Are you doing something you love? If the answer is yes, it is not a waste of time.
But let’s think beyond passion and focus on probability.
Does this endeavor have a high, medium, or low probability of being sustainable. Sometimes, thinking about big picture ways that we use our time, we need to be practical. If I thought there was an extremely low chance of writing ever being a sustainable way of me spending my time, I wouldn’t dedicate massive amounts of time to it, like I am. However, I am imbued with the most absurd sense of confidence I’ve ever known. So, I believe it will pay off. Therefore, I invest a lot of time into it because I truly believe that one day I will be a writer.
(And, in spending a lot of time on it, I increase the chances of it being a success.)
All of this to ask – do you get it?
Have you ever had this problem?
I’ve been suffering from Wasted Time Syndrome for 9 years.
Sometimes being a creative professional can feel like being pulled in too many directions. I have so many passions that I can’t possibly dedicate all my time to a single one of them. So, I shift my time between them, trying to remind myself that what is a passion now might be my career later, so it is worth pursuing.
Here is how you can enter the free giveaway!
Leave a comment on here about this topic,
and I’m going to pick a winner at random
to receive a free written portfolio review!
Warren Verity - All your posts are inspirational. I don’t think anyone has written on this subject like you have. Enjoyed it a lot thank you ☺️
brookeshaden - Thank you, Warren. I really appreciate that.
heather hughes - I am a wife, mother of 4(one of whom is disabled), full-time university student with double majors, an employee at my “survival job”, and an artist. It is so easy to get swept up in
wasted time syndrome. That time writing that paper could be spent playing with my kids. That time playing with my kids could be spent making art. That time making art could be used studying! I often feel like I am doing all of it wrong! Your post resonated with me deeply.
brookeshaden - WOW, Heather, you have SO much going on and I admire you fiercely for keeping that amazing positive attitude of yours and for being so open to creativity.
Gallagher Green - Heather, you are a huge inspiration to me. The idea that you can do all of that and find time to still be an artist is incredible. Major props to you! <3
Ellen - Dear Brooke
Well, I think you put into words what I experience on a daily base. I am a soft sculpture artist and a fine art photographer and I make my money with the first. I have been photographing all my life and this is my calling, but I did not gave the guts to pursue it professionally until about 22 months ago or so. Before I chose photography I felt torn because I was not following my dream, since I started pursuing it though, I feel torn when I take pictures as my time is better paid if I make my soft sculptures.
The thing is though that I know in my deepest of hearts that writing and photography is what I need to do. I want to take time to do it and yet it is hard to resist the calling of an income that you can “rely” on. It often leads to me feeling absolutely torn, because in my case I don’t want to be a soft sculpture artist anymore, but it needs to keep going and just because I need this income I can’t spend as much time as I would like photographing. It is not easy, yet life is not meant to be easy. I don’t know the solution, but I know that every time I spend time doing what I am meant to do, I am my best self and therefore this time can not ever be wasted…
I get you completely though
brookeshaden - YES, Ellen, YES. I hear you loud and clear. We are definitely on the same wavelength. Keep pursuing those dreams.
Tom Reichner - Brooke,
I really appreciate the way that you were able to articulate the feelings that you have, and have had, about your creative endeavors.
I think I am different than you in one major area; I have never had this feeling that what I am really supposed to be doing is earning money. I guess I was brought up by parents who encouraged me toward fun and hobbies and not towards careers and incomes. Hence, when I am working at a job, earning money, that is when I feel that I am wasting my time, and think, “What I really should be doing is traveling about with my camera”.
I think that the way we are raised has a great affect on our feelings about priorities, and is probably why I always feel completely free to spend my time doing whatever I feel like doing, without any guilt. It is also most likely why I have spent most of my adult life in near-poverty, inasmuch as income is concerned.
I epitomize the term, “starving artist”, but that is ok because I think that is exactly what I am supposed to be, and I love living the Starving Artist lifestyle!
brookeshaden - I can actually totally relate to you! I grew up in the same manner, my parents never discussing the need to have a job that makes a lot of money, always encouraged toward our passions. It was pretty awesome. I’ve never had a lot of money, never been motivated by it…and yet, I find myself loving equally these creative endeavors, so my mind says: well, I suppose you should do the one that makes an income. Silly brain! I hope you get lots of time to travel with your camera 🙂
Oksana - I’m truly inspired by all your posts, and I actually can’t wait to read your book )) I like the way you see the world, art and your path. I’m doing both portrait and fine art photography, I’d love to concentrate more on fine art. I wish I had more time for writing and painting… reading and learning )) I have a little son, who needs a lot of attention) Overall, I love what I do, I just wish I could do more. There’s so many great things to do )
brookeshaden - Aww thank you Oksana! I bet your little guy needs a lot of attention! But the great thing is that you are pursuing things that you love, and that will be such a good influence on him 🙂
Amy - I feel the same way! I have dabbled in photography for years, and always wanted a career out of it, but never really believed it was possible to make decent money. I ended up quitting a really horrible job about a year ago and finally decided to give it a real try, yet I still struggle with feeling like I am wasting time as I have not made any money yet (which is strange to me as I work more/harder now than I ever have in my life). It’s really weird to me how so many are conditioned to believe our only value lies in doing something we are being paid for, so we behave accordingly and give up on so many of our dreams. It is only recently that I have started to accept that money is not the only thing that matters (though obviously important, and I do have a solid business plan to begin making money in the next year or so with my art) and can be obtained no matter what you wish to do as long as you are passionate and never quit. Thank you for your inspiration. I have learned so much from you (about business and creativity, but most importantly believing in yourself and your dreams) over the last year as I work toward fulfilling my dreams. I can’t wait to read your novel, if it’s filled with the same passion as the rest of your work I know it will be amazing!
brookeshaden - YES, you said it – we are trained to believe that our value lies in getting paid. Insanity!! I wish we could break that system of thought (starting with ourselves!). You are so lovely, thank you for being here Amy.
Amy - I agree! Changing the way we think about success is so (ironically) important for being successful in our lives. I will consider myself immensely successful to make enough money to spend my life doing something that makes me happy, and I hope to inspire others to do the same. I hope you have a great day! 🙂
JR - In response to your questions, creative projects always give me anxiety. But, that’s coming from a person who has mental health issues like depression and anxiety, so I wrestle with feelings of inadequacy or that I’m not doing enough “important” work. Too, many people in my life have not taken my creative endeavors seriously and i am encumbered with comments about my work being a “hobby” and sometimes asked when I’m going to get a “real job.” So, it’s been an uphill battle. When I’ve taken jobs to fill the gaps between projects, it has ended up, nearly always, depleting my soul. Creating, and being intentional about making ample white space in my life, is integral to me being replenished, rejeuvenated, and more in a position to serve others and foster relationships. I’ve been in a long stretch of a sort of barrenness in life, unable to create, unable to have the time and space and access to wild places that my soul craves, so that’s what I wish I was spending time pursuing. My primary creative passions are photography and writing, but I also want to get back into playing music, drawing, and begin to at least dabble in some filmmaking.
brookeshaden - I tend to think that a lot of very creative people have similar issues because we feel so gosh darn much – we feel compelled to create because of something inside. At least, that’s how I feel. I suffer from a lot of anxiety myself. It sounds like you have a plethora of creative passions (I relate), which is really wonderful. I hope that you show any doubters what real passion and integrity look like. Big hug!
Margherita Introna - This image is so powerful Brooke! It speaks to me on many levels and I could interpret it in a number of ways. It definitely goes into my being one of my top favourites list from you!
I spend countless hours on and money invested in my photography. Is it wasted time and money? Never. Not once. It has meant so much to my heart and soul. The experiences, the connections, the lessons, the expressions… These have become such an important part of my life and given me a way to connect. It was what I had been searching for all my years (over 20 years!) of photography. It has been the only time I have taken any of my passions so seriously and being so focussed and committed.
Over the last few weeks I have been down a rabbit hole of sorts… Not creating new work (although I have plenty of work waiting in my “to-do” folder!), but doing so much administration and preparation for the next level for my work. I have been having so much fun with it! This despite working until 4am most nights on it! Wasted time? Nope. Never.
brookeshaden - Aww thank you Margherita! I LOVE watching your creativity and career blossom. You really do work so hard and I love that about you. I hear you on not creating as much lately. I find some months are better for admin, and others for creativity.
Francisco J. - Anxiety? Yes. Depression too. Oh panic, let’s not forget about panic attacks when I work on creative photography projects. How do I get the image that is stuck in my head into a format like a composite image that others will understand and connect with, but hopefully not ridicule or criticize.
brookeshaden - I hear that! Anxiety, panic. Yes, me too.
Yolanda - I feel that way all the time! I have too many passions, and I am a professional photographer but that does not pay my bills either. I’m a fine art photographer and live music photographer but I do weddings and e-commerce etc. to get some income. My partner is supporting me, and that’s why I’m able to keep on trying, but I feel terribly guilty if I spend my time in something that’s not related to find a better job, or clients, or stable collabs…
I feel like an irresponsible adult pursuing some childish dreams instead of being an adult and getting what they call a “real job”.
And I sometimes feel I’ll never get there, but also can’t stop trying.
I really liked the post
brookeshaden - Yolanda, I hear that. It sounds like you are pursuing your passion with everything you’ve got, and I admire that completely. I believe in you!
Kathryn - I’m been sitting here today thinking of how much time I’ve been wasting lately, in fact my whole life. As I started to try and verbalise my thoughts your newsletter popped into my mail so I just had to comment.
I’m currently stuck in my latest transition, frozen in a frantic stillness because my mind won’t stop but it also won’t move forward. To take a step forward would feel heroic; any forward movement would be progress. For months now the clock has been ticking and days just pass me by. I’m telling myself it’s just a transition and I will thaw, but its so hard when you have dreams and the past holds you so tightly.
Brooke, I have no doubt at all you will make a great novelist and can’t wait to read your first novel.
brookeshaden - What timing! Sometimes we do need those transition periods. In many, many ways, I feel that the entire year of 2017 was that for me. It was horrible, but so educational. I hope you get through yours soon, but take time to learn from it. Big hugs to you!
maddison wade - Beautiful worl
maddison wade - Beautiful work.
I always come back to you as inspiration when I am in some sort of a rut.
You always seem to have a calm and content mind and find inspiration in everything you see around you.
That’s something to admire and envy.
brookeshaden - Aww thank you Maddison, I really appreciate that kindness. I do try – don’t always succeed – but try.
Michelle Sibrian - I wanted to answer your thoughtful questions. 1. The only time a creative project gives me anxiety is before I meet the person I am going to shoot. Meeting people gives me anxiety. I am a background person. I don’t stand out so standing out gives me anxiety. Although, I like to do things like wear makeup and color my hair different colors so I believe that deep down inside, I do want to stand out. The other time I get anxiety is when they leave. What if everything I shot doesn’t work and I don’t have anything to show? I love the feeling of creating something really cool from different piece of the shoot. I love the problem solving aspect of Photoshop. I hate anxiety, but I love the rush of being able to fix it and from learning from it. 2. All I want to do with my life is shoot and edit and travel while doing it. I do feel like I am wasting my time not doing more of that.
brookeshaden - Michelle, I so identify with this! I actually cut out the part of my business in which I had to meet people because my social anxiety is so strong. Brava to you for sticking with it.
Tanushree - Your words always inspires me and initiate to make me positive.I stay in Calcutta and it feels positive to know that,every year you come here to give expressions to many underprivileged women. I love your initiative.This one words of thought written by you shows up a lot of relatability for me somewhere and thank you for the photo because,it expresses so much about my current condition symbolically:)
brookeshaden - Thank you Tanushree, that is so kind of you!
Meghan - I suffer from the worst form of wasted time syndrome, Analysis Paralysis. When it comes to personal projects, I spend all of my time thinking about what I want to do. I will dream about it, research it, plan it, but I never actually do it. I am so scared I am going to do something “wrong” that I don’t do anything at all. I spend the rest of my time beating myself up about it and subsequently feeling like a failure.
On the other hand, I am excellent at helping others develop their dreams and determine their true calling. My passion is helping other people find their passion.
brookeshaden - That’s so interesting Meghan! I feel this way a lot too, in every aspect of what you said.
Rose - What a great calling <3 I hope you can figure out a way to help others and help your self to be ok with doing your own projects. Perhaps it will help to talk to your self out loud like you guide others??? If you get what I mean.. hehe. Have a great day. Best of wishes
Vanja - Hehehe, OMG Brooke, have been following you on fb, but this post made it all clear… why I see so much of me in your work.
Yes, yes and yes… (even now, tiny voice in my head: get the f*** off that fb and back to work.. ) 9 years.. to me ever since I am aware of myself.
Just unlike you and the gentleman above I had horrible parents that always, always criticised any form of art I was pursuing, I love dance, wanted so much to go to ballet school when was 5, dad said it is for snobs and no daughter of his is going on that stupid dance. Studding, cooking and cleaning were only acceptable means of spending time.
Needed decades and tons of self-help books to figure out why my master degree in linguistics never got me anywhere, why I have recurring migraines and constant back pain. And more importantly why I feel all the time like I wanna jump out of my own body and go somewhere, just do something else.
I am 38 now, last winter I finished my first book, sitting a lot but not being in too much pain (go figure), now I am researching for next book and pursuing acting with big wish to also do personal trainer course (hoping to start earning money from my talent but mostly to be able to invest in pursuing more passions).
Lol, yes, even that bit is same, have so many passions, and want to do them all asap as I am afraid I wouldn’t have enough time… :-p
PS have left the comment on this photo on fb
Thank you for sharing this, it is amazing…
So, to my tiny voice: ‘shush tiny voice, surfing fb moderately introduces us to fantastic people like Brook.’
brookeshaden - Vanja, you are an inspiration! You are chasing what you love despite a past that could have held you back. Such a big hug!!
Vanja - Thank you Broke, it means to me a lot 🙂 And you are my big inspiration, sometimes to start writing I look at your photos and listen to classic music… and the worlds oppen for me to enter and describe them.
I am so grateful we have social media that allows us to meet each other even if it is all just virtually 🙂
Mary Lee - Dear Brooke,
This is my first exposure to a blog. Never have I felt so compelled to say what I’m thinking. Quite the opposite actually. I never saw my thoughts as anything valid enough to share, but I possess certain chords that you seem to strike at the right frequencies.
I, too, feel the pain of wasted time. I was supposed to be one of the best musicians in the world, but I’m not. Instead, I wasted an entire decade of my own drowning my sorrows with whatever was readily available, preferably Jack Daniels, eventually feeling so ashamed that I tried to kill myself.
I’m 34 now and a second semester photography student. I was scared to do something completely foreign. I just knew I would fail, but I haven’t. I keep waiting to slam headfirst into the proverbial brick wall of insecurity, but one major thing has changed. My attitude. My chest will start to feel that familiar feeling of panic start to invade my psyche, but I have learned to take back control of my brain… and my life.
Photography is very new to me. Not the art of it, but the technique of it. I have always seen the world through the eyes of a tortured artist, but I just got my first DSLR last September. It has changed my life. It has taught me how to understand myself. I can SEE what my brain sees. While we inhabit the same body, we have two completely different ideas of how this body should be carrying on. I chuckle a bit as I picture my angel and devil sitting atop my shoulders. They don’t look like me.
Anyway, I have completely forgotten what my initial thought was about this post although it seems to have gone in a direction that works. That is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned: just because things haven’t worked out the way I planned, doesn’t mean they haven’t worked out. They have and they always will as long as you surrender to what’s important. If it’s important, then it’s not a waste. No one sees the world in the same way I do and to me, that’s important.
brookeshaden - Mary, I’m so glad to have you here! Thank you for your vulnerability, it will help so many who might come across these words. Taking back control – my goodness, is there anything more POWERFUL. My hat is off to you for pursuing your passion with vibrancy and honesty.
Rose - That is so true Mary lee. Best of wishes on your study’s and happy holidays
Rose - I so know this feeling!
When I was younger it seemed like I was very spontaneous and Easley distracted. But in my early 20s the interests started to show a pattern.
Dance/movement, music, singing, drawing, painting, photography, design/sewing and all of the above in short films . And around and around the wheel turns.
My interests and what inspires me and makes me happy is the same now as when I was 8 playing dress up and splashed paint around in my yard, preforming for all my dolls and teddy bears lind up under the rose bushes.
For so long i felt that all this interests was a bad thing. So I said to my self I need to do photography. So I did end left everything els for the last 3 years. I had some exhibitions and started selling. I felt proud that I invested so much time into something and people suddenly recognized me as a artist and photographer. But I felt a little bit locked and unhappy. And every time I would set down to try anything els, I feelt that voice in my head. Why are you doing this. You should spend time doing photography!!! So I did, until….. i started art school!!! Lol… now i feel guilty if I don’t practice anatomy, or do color study’s, or the school assignment.. I got myself a mentor, she is a fine art aquarell portrait artist (Aine Divine, she is brilliant) and she is the first one that actually encourages me to play and explore. With her guidance I suddenly feel so much more “on my own team”. I am so much more happy, and so much more productive. I am trying to learn how I can move between the different creative spaces in a way that feels good and organic to me! I have been doing things for so long becouse that is “the way it should be done” (or at leased I thought). Now I feel so inspired, and free, and joyful. I am still feeling the struggle, but much less. And now when I graduate I am going to take my time to be that child again that doesn’t judge or questions what you do but enjoy the ride and exploration! Can not wait.
Kim McClellan - Brooke, the stories contained in your works inspire, regardless of whether they are told through image or word. In reading your blog, I admire the candid truthfulness and curiosity that wend their way through your words. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for asking the questions you ask and for sharing the answers that work for you. If they are not the answers for others, they are certainly a viable place for beginnings. You have a style of writing that makes me curious to know more about your novel and look forward to reading it, too. You…You are not wasting your time.
I drove four hours to visit my grandfather this weekend. He is 96 and currently lying in a nursing home bed, scared that his time may be near and chomping at the bit to get home. He doesn’t want to go home to die. He wants to get home to cook some real food and to finish two things. He has an order of wooden wagon wheels to finish crafting for a customer and he is writing a book that still requires some polishing. To my recollection, my grandfather never wasted a moment to inaction or to not pursuing his passions. However, right now, he feels he is wasting time. Very precious time. He would never say it like that, but in his eyes, there is the plea for us to understand how much he needs to get back to his projects.
This past weekend served as an eyeopener. Time is fleeting. It is a gift best spent on loving life and doing the things that build such a passion for living that you share your experience with others because you want to see others succeed in loving life. I haven’t been practicing this dictum, not with conviction. I want to, though. I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting time. Not anymore.
Jay Coy - I suffer from both wasted time syndrome and imposter syndrome so what I end up doing it over analyzing everything over and over and over again because I want it to be absolutely perfect that I don’t end up doing anything. This post has inspired me to start kicking down those barriers to get out and start creating. Thanks, Brooke, for always being inspiring and shedding light on these subjects!
Sara Harley - Hi Brooke,
I participated in your Creative Live course in October and was inspired to create two series of composited images. Both series were to help myself deal with the emotions surrounding my husband’s stroke. I was anxious while creating the images (28 in total) because I had never created a series of work before. However, I was terrified when it came to releasing them into the world for other people to see. I had my first ever solo exhibit in February thanks, in part, to the inspiration you gave me through that course. I also had five images from my second series selected for a group exhibit at the only photography gallery in Nova Scotia. Those images were composited self portraits and very much outside my comfort zone, but the feedback I received was amazing! One of my images was the only image selected by our provincial newspaper to accompany a review about the exhibit. I never would have had the courage to spread my creative wings without your influence…thank you. I do waste a lot of time, mostly out of fear. I have troubles with having enough faith in myself that I am “good enough” and struggle with that fear daily.
Betty - Ohmygod I have this exact same problem! It’s even worse when I have family tell me this as well. All I ever hear is that my major, graphic design is a huge waste of time and that I’ll never find a job. I am also hearing go get a master’s in something else. I told them there is no way I am doing that because I’ll be stuck in school for another 6 years when I’m going to graduate soon in the fall. But it doesn’t stop the voice in my head telling me it’s an entire waste of time and I should be doing something else. It also doesn’t stop that voice from telling me everything I make is utterly hideous as well. I still hate everything I make which is why I never actually look at it for too long after finishing because I will be sitting on the computer until I’m a skeleton fixing every tiny detail.
Danielle Bilen - Great Blog post. I can relate. Being a mother of three and pursuing art over the age of 40 I have many days where I think, “ is this worth it..a.m. I wasting my time.” I get sucked into my creative vortex and house work gets put to the side and guilt kicks in. Luckily I married a creative man who continues to support my creativity even when the house is a mess. So learning to balance is always a challenge but most days I know the pursuit it worth it!
Su Hall - Brooke,
In my 60’s, now, I can relate so much to your thinking. In my life, I want to try it all, do it all and experience everything! LOL I gave it hell, and still do! I made plans, broke them, found other things and, well, it’s been one hell of a ride! All of it. Even, the bad.
Life changes. I now have my home to myself. My family is grown. Suddenly, my options are infinite! I never gave this much thought, but, here I am! ‘My’ garden, ‘my’ house, putting things where ‘I’ like them! I have so much to do!
I may waste all my time on silly endeavors, or, create something wonderful! Who knows? But, it will all be good.
A creative never wants to waste an opportunity, for sure! But, isn’t the botched attempt just as much an opportunity? If we didn’t fail, now and then, how would we ever know what it is we want!
I used to be afraid of change. Terribly! But, with change comes opportunity. I see that now. I will go through the remaining days of my life, doing things I love, finding new things to love, and never feeling regret over any of my poor choices. They taught me more than anything!
Kim McClellan - Hi Su,
I just wanted to send a huge smile, a hug and a thank you. Your words, “I will go through the remaining days of my life, doing things I love, finding new things to love, and never feeling regret over any of my poor choices. They taught me more than anything!” made me a grinning, smiley kind of misty-eyed. This is exactly what I want for the rest of my days. ~Kim
Lisa - Wow, this blog post came at the perfect time for me! I just worked my very last shift of a part time job I have loved doing for 10 years, 2 days ago so that I can use that time each week to really focus on photography, after many years of stops and starts at putting my art out there. I have struggled to make the time for creative pursuits because I run a business with my husband, in addition to the job I just quit. After I got home from that last shift I was having all sorts of doubts and anxiety coming up and “what if” I never make money with my photography and should not have quit that job. Making money with my art has always been my hang up. Putting pressure on myself to monetize photography or it wasn’t worth my time. My husband promptly informed me that I should stop doubting myself and spend my time thinking about “what if” I succeed and that it won’t ever happen if I don’t put the time into it. The truth is that many circumstances have aligned and this feels like to right time to go for it and I’ve made the commitment now so there is no turning back. This post was a great reminder to follow my instincts. Thank you for your authenticity in your blog posts, I get so much out of every post I read!!
Tammy Bevins - I have struggled with this also. I have felt that I had to make excuses to pursue my art. I started entering print competition which gave me deadlines and a reason to make art
Carol Walsh - Brooke, Yes, Yes! I have the same problem — anxiety. But, mine was triggered by the absolute need (compulsion?) to write my memoir. But, every time I sat down to write, anxiety raised its head. I wanted to retreat and do my art. After three years my book is published (Painting Life: My Creative Journey Through Trauma) and I am now emotionally free to create my art as much, or whenever, I want.
I am now working on a new series of photo-collages that I am excited about. Still, I sometimes question myself, “Carol, is this really important to do?” My final answer is always a loud “yes”. Thank you Brooke for being you. Carol
Julie - In answer to your question, the more something means to me the more anxiety I feel. I’ve learned that this is because I care and it means a lot to me to make sure I bring my project to fruition.
If I don’t get this feeling then the work I produce is very superficial. Work I produce with heart palpitations I find draws from my sub-conscious and holds deeper meaning than I could ever plan or hope for.
No time is ever wasted.
Anna Bruce - Brooke I love you and to paraphrase you, your book is a gift. You don’t know who it will impact but someone (or many people) need to benefit from your writing so do it. I am a FIRM believer of following one’s heart (even when it doesn’t seem rational or logical). I have plenty of examples when I followed logic Vs. my heart and the not so positive outcomes (happy to explain in further detail if you ever want to know). Writing makes you better in all ways. You are forcing yourself to be creating in a whole new way, which I believe helps you when creating art, writing your blogs and teaching your courses. You are problem solving in new ways and I personally always welcome that.
So to answer your question… where to begin. I used to feel this way for the last 10 years of my life. I felt like I wasted my art degree by having jobs that had nothing to do with art. I felt like I was betraying my inner artist every time I had a job and wasn’t really creating. But the funny thing is that I believe everything happens for a reason. I learned A LOT about what I didn’t want in life from all of those experiences and I know more than ever (now) where my heart wants to go. I want to be a full-time artist, something that I didn’t think I wanted to be nor was I ready for 10 years ago. I have a new sense of passion and fire and all the while I have no idea if it will work out. One thing I do know though is that anything you commit to, HAS to work. There is no way, if you are true to yourself, pursue it with passion and work hard that it cannot come to fruition. I use you as one of my examples. In your last 9 years of being in business you are an Artist and you make income from your work – that inspires me to keep going and keep creating. Same thing with Sue Bryce, Lara Jade, Chase Jarvis, Elizabeth Gilbert and all of these amazing creatives. If you put in the time and dedication, change your mindset and follow your heart it will work. PLUS, you KNOW we are your tribe and we are all going to support you.
<3 Much love
Sheila Eden - Hi Brooke
I am an artist and I have an incredible amount of anxiety surrounding that what I am doing is worthwhile. I have been modeling for 9 years and recently my husband who usually supports me, called my modeling ‘an interest’. I was like cant you see his is my life’s work, my passion storytelling. Even though I am not getting money for my work. I am starting to realize I am plenty and I deserve plenty, and opportunities and to grow. I am a model, actress, musician and makeup artist for film and it makes me feel all over the place, and like I must choose just one thing in order to be successful. But what is success? I’ve been finding that my ego must stay in check, and also that time is all now. It isn’t in the future. I feel this time crunch that I must be successful soon before I loose my beauty.
Kelly Cesari - Brooke, thank you for continually challenging and inspiring me. It seems to be a matter of fact for both of us that one lifetime will not be long enough to do or learn all of the things that interest us. Personally, I’m happy to meander from one interest to another with varying degrees of aptitude as long as I’m enjoying the journey, and feel I’m gaining something from the experience. (Mostly I want to stave off the rigors of old age from dampening my brain.) I really love this new composite you’ve created. To me, the hands represent the various intentions, wants, and desires- whether real or imagined, of other people as they pertain to the subject. The subject is a raw, and powerful presence who seems to be fully herself, and is uninhibited by the influences about her. Warm regards. – Kelly
María - In a way, I feel very identified with you, Broke. And it’s very frustrating to feel like that, honestly.
I spend my life looking for time to do everything I need to do, work and the things I like to do like photography, astronomy, read, paint, take a walk or go to my lovely cinema to watch a new movie.
The fact is that I never stop because I always have something to do, why? there’s the thing:
Because even if I’m not doing anything, for a day off during the weekend, or similar, I feel guilty because my head starts to tell me – Hey, Maria, you should be doing something to benefit and not be here without doing anything.
And what comes to tell me that?
That little voice we hear is NOT right, only intuition is, the rest is the mind and the ego with its whip whipping us, crazy to take control of every situation (even when you’re resting because you need to doit for do a better work after) .
So I say that we need to block that little voice and pay attention to what returns us again and again to what our heart really wants and we need. In your case, Broke, write that novel 🙂
Hope you’ll return at it over and over again till you you got it, if that’s really what your heart need to do <3
So much love! You're so inspiring
Martos Hoffman - For me, self confidence, or the lack thereof, seems to become one of the primary reasons why I waste my time, primarily by choosing to work on something that is not as important, creative, or new. This manifests itself in procrastination behavior. Unconsciously, I don’t want to put myself “out there” where my less than perfect attempt is revealed to the world. Learning to accept the process of developing as an artist is hard as I’d like to be fully fledged from the start.
Thanks for revealing yourself to all of us Brooke as your willingness to show your strengths as well as your insecurities is an inspiration.
Xephyyr - The irony of my commenting is that I typically refrain from integrating with the online community due to the time and attention it takes to do so. Time, despite being a human fabrication born of convenience, holds dominion over all our minds, whether it’s assuring an interviewer of our spotless record of punctuality, lamenting a time-sensitive missed opportunity, or just a glance at the mirror that becomes a stare as our reflection becomes increasingly unfamiliar. Time, like money, has become a human overlord by nature of the power society has imbued it with.
Because of my life’s circumstances, time has always seemed an aggressor to me. I feel that if I don’t properly manage my time, energy, and resources, I shall never be free of the circumstances that bind me. Simultaneously, I find myself fearful and anxious at the prospect of compromising parts of myself for the promise of freedom, as I’ve witnessed many of my peers do (and with awareness that I am not immune to the temptation myself). The struggle then becomes how does one create something meaningful to both oneself and others while yielding a return that preserves autonomy and doesn’t compromise the sincerity of one’s intent?
The current phase of that answer I find myself in is that we should utilize our inclinations as benevolently as we know how to, with an organic intent to improve (rather than self/circumstance imposed). That doesn’t mean that we should only prioritize the tasks that we perceive as being the most meaningful and with the widest reach. We are notoriously terrible at understanding the impact of our words and actions, so applying an arbitrary scale of relevancy to hobbies or pursuits seems silly. For instance, the image you posted today was gorgeous and your description encouraged participation. The sincerity of both the image and the description inspired me to not only comment my observations, but follow the rabbit trail to your website and eventually your newsletter, despite the numerous projects I’ve offset to do so. My monetary return is nothing. My progress on my projects is nil. Still, I feel enriched by your words and ideas as well as the dialogue it’s inspired within myself. Despite what my usual indicators suggest, I don’t feel this was a waste of time.
To conclude this increasingly long-winded response, I believe the key is the cliché of balance. It is important to dream and achieve while being both cognizant and respectful of parameters—both our own and that of the environment/planet we depend on. Our ambition should be supplementary rather than at the expense of those less fortunate/conscious than ourselves. I can’t speak to your internal struggle as I’m not you (obviously), and yet I would encourage you not to let societal definitions sway an image of yourself. You are already a photographer and a writer because that’s what you do—not because anyone rewards your time and effort. In regards to sustainability, you’ll never know until you’re there in the same way that 9 years ago you wouldn’t have known that you’d eschew your film degree in favor of photography, resulting in you swapping ideas with over 200k followers on a platform that didn’t yet exist.
I’m not sure if that means anything, but I’m inclined to think it does. Even if reading this proves as a waste of time for you, writing it wasn’t one for me. Life is intriguing that way. I, and clearly many others, look forward to the fruits of your labor, whatever they may be.
Monica Leal - I have had that syndrome -always-. I come from a culture that loves art but does not promote it or believes it’s a valid way of living your life. It took me a move to The United States, to Los Angeles, to really understand that I cod do something like this and I could have a shot at being successful (and by success I mean to have the means to keep creating). I have constant anxiety about whether my aspirations are valid, but don’t get me wrong, *I know they are* but I am afraid of wasting my life and leaving very important things in life behind (like a 401k ha ha).
I’ve sort of accepted the idea that I may die alone with 5 cats, but I wouldn’t want to *waste my life* doing something I hate just to survive. I am willing to compromise and make my dreams sustainable, that’s why I am looking up to you.
Katherine A Gaffney - Oh, Brooke, everything you write is so relatable and seems to always find me at the perfect time.
I struggle with wasted time and imposter syndrome on the regular. For the last couple months, I have been “working” on my website, and every time I sit down to design it, I am paralyzed by the decision of whether or not I should market myself as a Portrait Photographer or a Fine Art/Conceptual Photographer. While I realize that doing portraiture and creating images for other people is probably the easiest way for me to support myself financially, I cringe every time I think about trying to sell myself as a Senior Portrait or Engagement Photographer. It just doesn’t feel natural. Honestly, it feels gross.
Fine Art, on the other hand, that is my jam. I don’t know the first thing about how to get into galleries, sell prints, or if my work is even good enough to sell, but creating this type of art is what sets my soul on fire. I am at a point in my life where I can throw myself fully into trying to become a Fine Art Photog, but I am so afraid of failing and wasting precious time that I am ironically and paradoxically frozen in this weird sort of purgatory where I find myself unable to make art and time just keeps on slipping by.
All of the above is why I really am hoping and wishing that I can make it to the Promoting Passion Convention this year. I think that being around other likeminded peeps and meeting you might just be the kick in the pants I need to make the big leap. Crossing my fingers that I’ll be there in October!
Thanks for continuing to inspire! <3 <3
Thomas Miles - Hi Brooke! I love this topic: I had a full time job in retail, which I wanted to go into to earn money and be able to live. At the time I thought this was enough because my photography was more of a hobby, I began to realise that my photography was more of a passion; with the ability to connect with many people that I may never even meet. I have now halved my hours at my regular job and am now pursuing my love for photography as a business, taking on more commissions and jobs, relating to what I love with amazing people. I felt guilty for wanting to pursue this because I thought it was just a silly hobby, but now I’ve come to realise that sharing my story and my life in the photographic form can connect with so many people, and can become a great business!
Gallagher Green - Golly bob howdy, that’s a lot of comments! I will start by saying you can exclude me from your drawing, I don’t really have a port to review. So it is better if it goes to someone that could use it. 🙂
I have had a problem with “Waisting time” syndrome since I was about 18, but over the past year or two, I have gotten much better. (So it only took me 10+ years to get it sorted! LOL)
Writing for me also feels better than even photography, when writing I don’t feel like I am “waisting” time. I wrote a children’s book 3 nights ago, now I just need to learn how to draw so I can illustrate it. LOL
My novel comes along slower, I know what you mean by research. I spent over 2 hours looking up what you have to go through when you need to ID the dead body of a family member. (It’s not as bad as you would think)
I like your ideal writing scene. I normally write late at night, sitting in the dark in a worn out recliner that has a broken footrest. With “A Fine Frenzy” blaring on my headphones, typing on my laptop. I am sure it is quite the scene if you saw it from the outside! LOL
(Now back to the point) I Still feel like I am wasting time when I am working on my wildlife and landscape photography, I don’t know why though. I really love doing it, but I think it is because it doesn’t feel like a money maker.
Wonderful post, Thank you! <3
Terry - Anxiety? Every creative project is, by definition (to me at least) something I haven’t tried before with all the attendant what, when, how questions — especially how.
What would I prefer doing? Sitting still and watching things move around me for awhile. Observing brings ideas.
Anna - I am a designer, and I never really knew too much about fine art photography until I saw your work. I have fallen in love with the endless amount of creativity that can be portrayed in your style, and because of that, photography has now become a very passionate hobby of mine.
This photo in particular really opens up my eyes to how everyone finds meaning in it, but in their own way. This piece is beautiful. Thank you so much for all you do!
Jonathan Chapé - I absolutely relate to that feeling of having my mind tell me that I’m being just a tad ridiculous. I want to start off by saying that photography has been my mental and creative edcspe for a few years now. It’s what I gravitate towards when I don’t feel like I can use my words to evoke what I’m feeling. Now, I haven’t yet attempted to make any sort of income through this medium. Why? Perhaps I just don’t think it’s possible for me. I have a voice that tells me that ‘no one really cares what you out out’ Now maybe that’s true, but a part of be says one person, maybe hundreds of miles away, looks at my work and feels somewhat less alone. I know that sounds silly saying it out loud. I’ve also been working in a job that doesn’t satisfy my creative mind, yet it pays the bills I need it to. I think I’m being selfish to want more than what I already have. I think most days about leaving my banking job to pursue my true passion, but my mind tells me that I will fail drastically. So I don’t know what to do at this point. Should I be grateful that I have a job and focus on growing up to be like the rest of society? It’s safe, and white frankly, safe doesn’t sound too bad right about now.
Suellen Cook - wasting time seems to be a bit of a concept that other people judge you to be doing and so we take it on ourselves…but if we are truthful we are absolutely passionate about what we are doing (if we weren’t we wouldn’t be “wasting time” on it) so when I feel guilty about maybe this passion is wasting time I try to remember that is a judgement I’ve taken from others. If I am loving what I am doing, it’s NOT a waste of time. How can being happy, content, creative ever be a true waste of time…but I still suffer too, I’m human and live in a human world 🙂
Jens Paul Schommer - I’ve definitely had these thoughts. For me I think its a mixture of anxiety and wanting to be responsible. I love doing photography and I think I’d really like to have it as part of a full time job. I try to study/practise so I can get there. I do feel a bit guilty when i’m just watching videos on the internet and I know I could be being productive instead. However I think as long as thats not all you’re doing you’re fine. Finding and keeping a balance is important. I don’t think i’ve ever heard someone say they were happy about burning out on their passion.
julie powell - I often feel a fraud and that I am wasting my time. Even though I have sold a piece, but one piece cannot sustain you for a whole year. I work so hard on what I have built up and what I have achieved, but still that little voice in my head keeps telling me I am fraud and to stop wasting my time, energy on money in something that will go no where. But while I am creating I feel alive and full of life and passion and freedom. I still look at pieces I have created and say wow! I did THAT. I have won awards and prizes and had gallery exhibits (which as you know cost money) but have still only sold a few pieces. I feel I have come such a long way since the folio review you did about 18 months ago…I would truly love to hear your thoughts on my digital artistry now. Xo
Nicole Keintz - Hello Dearest Brooke!
I can totally relate to all of this, but here’s what I’m working on: Staying Present, in this moment. Because ultimately, that’s all that matters. If my two brain surgeries taught me anything it’s that we are not in control – not even a little bit. 😉 We can plan and worry and speculate and hope and drive ourselves crazy with all the “what if’s” but none of us know what is going to happen a few years from now, or in a few days or even in the next five minutes. Of course the fears and anxieties creep in, but I try to remind myself to stay present, work with a joyful and grateful heart, let the rest go – and send my efforts out there with no expectations and no attachment to the outcome.
I’m so excited to tell you that my exhibition has come together and it will open in November! I’ll email you with more information soon. 🙂 This project is so dear to my heart and I have already dedicated countless hours and I’ll be investing a lot of money and it’s so hard not to hope that it will be a huge success! It’s also hard not to be afraid that it will be a colossal waste of time and energy. There are no guarantees. But I know with my whole heart that this is what I’m meant to do, and I have to keep following that gentle, radiant guidance, no matter what. And very simply, this is the conclusion I’ve come to: MY WORK AND MY SHOW ARE GOING TO TAKE ME EXACTLY WHERE I NEED TO BE. Whatever that might turn out to be. Success or Failure, who knows? It doesn’t matter because it’s never that black and white. Positive or Negative. Good or Bad. A gigantic failure might be exactly what I need to learn and propel me on to the next big step in my journey. Releasing everything and TRUSTING is so liberating. It lifts a giant burden and I feel free to just enjoy the process. 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing your story and your light…and encouraging others to share as well.
With gratitude, blessings and LOVE,
Kim Forman - Oh, do I ever understand that feeling! As a multipotentialite/scanner/renaissance person, it’s been with me for most of my life. It’s only been in the last few years that I managed to let go of it and just do what makes me happy.
Thank you for sharing your vulnerability around this. <3
I can’t wait to read your book! (Whatever your surroundings and attire while writing!)
Jon Miller - Oh man Brooke, did you ever hit the nail on the head with this one. My ex (for reasons to this article) felt I wasn’t going in the direction she felt so I had to end that. Anyway, is it really wasting time or planning too much. I sit for days thinking of concepts, working out the logistics, costs, etc who (model wise) will I chose and so forth and this takes time. Then the shoot is done and I start the process over again, if it was wasted time there would be no end results. The question you have to ask yourself is what makes you happy the most writing or your photography? Then look at how much time do you spend on each. Which gives you the most satisfaction and return on investment. Obvious writing isn’t at this moment, however keep this in mind neither did photography when you first started. You had to nurture the ideas, plan them over see that everything was working and double check your vision to reality. Then you executed the shoot then you did this over and over until you got it right and folks began to notice. Like all things creative it takes a lot of time to bring these projects to life. So take your time on your writing until its ready for the public. We and you know you can write, your images tell the stories. I wouldn’t stress too much about. If someone gets in your way do what I do either tell them to get on board or get off the ride.
I’m in the same boat with my photography, love it big time, just need to get it out there and that is where my road blocks come into play. I just have to work through it.
Tori Cawley - Dear Brooke,
My brother bought me your creative live class for Christmas as he saw my zeal for photography and needing some extra help to make my dreams a reality. I have just finished it! You taught me so much!
I think this topic is what held me back the most. My ego would always tell me art is nothing you could make a life out of but my heart knew differently. I asked myself why does this thing I love so much have remain a secret passion….? I wanted it to be how I spent all my time everyday! It took a lot of work telling my brain it was wrong and my heart was right, but with the help of your class, I am working on my passion everyday- and it is still hard work but I am truely happy! I see now that doing the things we love should never be categorized as a “waste of time” in our minds, but clues to our true path in life!!
Thank you so much for your help & inspiraion!
Much love!! – tori
Kristey Fritz-Martin - Wow!!! Reading this nearly brought me to tears because it hit so close to home (other than the making money part because I have not found much success in that department) but the guilt and struggle with passionate time management is something that really gets me and to know that someone as incredibly amazing as yourself feels this same way is such a refreshing twist! When one of your idols feels the same torn feeling that your struggle with it kinda maybe means that your struggle (mine anyways) might be valid if even in the smallest way!! I have always been a creative person and I bounce around a lot between how exactly I “need” to express my creative feelings and emotions and feel like I am in a constant struggle with the “whys”. Why do I feel so unsettled? Why does it never feel like it is enough? Why am I waiting my time at something that is not bringing me financial security? Is this creativity actually making me happy or crazy?!? Lol. Th struggle is real. I decided this year to start a self portrait project entitled “I was there Too” after I lost someone I loved dearly in 2017. There are just never enough memories in this world and I wanted to leave a legacy and journal not only for my family but for myself and it has been so thereputic. I have been creating from my heart and turning my thoughts and feelings into expressive self portraits and the creative freedom and growth has been beyond therapeutic BUT than the whys attack. Why. . . Why I am waisting so much time on myself? Why devote so much into something when tangibly I am not getting anything in return? Why don’t I fit in?!? Do I really want to fit in?!? (I know the answer to that last one is no but every once in a while it might be nice to actually have people “get it” lol) I should be taking more pictures of my kids and telling people to say cheese right?!? Because that helps pay the bills but at the same time drains every ounce of creative “want to” out of me. . . Maybe I should find a different passion?!? Maybe I should try harder?!? Lol. . . Maybe I should stop rambling and actually get something accomplished?!? Teehee. Either way, thank you so very much for being you!! You are such an incredible shining light in this industry!! I adore your new piece and I for one will be waiting in line to purchase your novel!
Sandy Taylor - Because of your dedication and self reflection, I have no doubt you will succeed with your book! Working full time and have a family (as well as being an artist) I often struggle on where to spend my time. It often comes down to prioritizing what’s important to me and I find it’s easier to let the lesser things go by the wayside unforgotten. Free time is often don’t challenging myself as an artist. I love that some of my artistic goals are harder, I have to dig deep and find the time to do it right.. Not for anyone but myself. We only have this one life and I plan to continue to make the most of it! Thank you for being an inspiration Brooke!
Rareș - I feel so close to this topic! Lately I have been struggling with it! I am a bachelor student in translating and interpreting and I have started to really love photography a year and some months ago and now university seems like a loss of time. It feels like I’m taking time away from my creativity. Don’t get me wrong, I will still finish this degree, but I cannot get rid of this feeling that I could be doing something else, I could be more productive. Plus, uni has become more like a survival game than something that I am really enjoying, something that I really want to do. So thanks for sharing Brooke and all the others who commented. Knowing that I’m not alone makes it feel just tiny little better.
suzanne martin - I just love your work and you inspire me so much. I teach dance and my passion is strong for that as is my new found love for photography. I am 57 and need to learn quickly and spend as much time as I can practising photography. I enjoy it all but need to start making some money to fund this passion . I feel I should be spending time housekeeping etc. but the contentment I get from the photography and its creativity helps me through other family issues but thats another subject
But I don’t feel so much like its a waste of time but rather a “revitaliser”. When I feel happy I can cope with everything else so the main issue becomes financial . I guess you could call the photographic competitions that I have just started entering are creative projects but I love doing them .. I think too at my age I feel a little bit of entitlement to spend time being creative. I hope that doesn’t sound selfish .. Thanks for your blog
Debbie - Gasp – Brooke, once again your topic and perspective has uncannily matched an issue I’ve been grappling with. My alter ego, I’ve recently realised, carries such a strong story about needing to do ‘proper work’ and this has frequently led to this insane, binary idea of my chosen activities either being purposeful/ appropriate, or a waste (which of course leads to unnecessary and unhelpful feelings of guilt). I’m working on debunking the delusional ‘value’ system and am finding that focusing on ‘do I love this?’ or at least ‘does this align with what I value?’ are much more helpful ways of evaluating what I do than focusing on the outcome. Thanks for your wisdom. Xxx
brookeshaden - Hi Debbie!
Thank you so much for your response – I love that you brought up the value system. That is actually a very clear way for me to think of this in the future. And, you are my random giveaway winner for a free portfolio review! I’ll email you now 🙂 XOXO! Brooke
Mumbi Muturi-Muli - There are days like today when I wonder why I thought that I had enough, creativity, time and effort to make a go of this photography thing. My fear is that I have made a terrible mistake but I have no other choice but to keep going because doing anything else feels like a form of death. So I know that I am on the right path, I just need to be kinder to myself and more patient, it has taken me years to find my passion, it feels like it will slip away in an instant. The loneliness of these feelings is what sinks deepest into my core, I wish I had someone close to tell me to keep going.
Rafael Rincon - Hi Broke,
I always feel refreshed and anchored to earth when I finish reading/watching your posts, tweets and videos. Is amazing how we all have the same demons when pursuing a creative endeavor and having totally different lives.
In my case sitting down and editing images just for practice calls for that inner voice telling me “You should be producing money” and is louder because I am the only breadwinner.
Just thinking and planing to produce and new image or project, give me a lot of anxiety. It is going to came good? I am going to produce an image that people would like. Is this project going to give me the momentum or advertisement I need to increase my income?
I always hope to have enough income to focus my time on creating more and refine my style. Find that balance between creation and income is my goal for 2018.
Again brooke, thanks for sharing.
PD. I hope I don’t have too many gramatical errors.
Louise - I do feel anxiety over not having enough time to accomplish all that I want to experience and learn in life. I’m 62 years old and have less time now than I did when I had young children at home. I’ve done a lot in my life but as I grow older I see less time to do all that I want to do before I die. I wish I could make time stand still and have it wait for me to catch up. Currently my hard drive failed in my computer so I’ve been without my photoshop which is driving me nuts.
Joan McEwan - Yes. Always. My husband has always teased me that I cannot focus! I drew for years, but because I couldn’t see how to make any money, i moved on to photography and began to learn ….. Loved it but soon began to want to paint and draw again, and now I blend the three in many ways but still feel like I may be wasting time as I am not much of a business person or marketer and feel like unless I ma making some money selling my art, what am I doing it for? Of course, I know it makes me feel awesome to create and also keeps me sane ( I have a special needs son, and it allows me much needed time to be me) but also I can’t shake the feeling that if only I would focus on one thing, I could do it that much better, and then be more successful…. its a dance, and I don’t imagine it will change much.. I’ve been doing it my whole life, lol!
AmberErica - I feel as though I’ve been in this inner-voice-rut for years. It’s soul crushing and so hard to overcome! I feel as though so many years of my life have been sweeping past me because I am giving in to having “more important things to do”. Lately, I have been feeling this incredible pull inside me to get back to my creative roots. Realizing it’s worth being REALIZED. I grew up with outside voices saying that being an artist, in any sense, was only a hobby and not for a career – trying to make it in the field would only eat you up, because the competition is too great and the goal impossible. Now I have come to know that the only thing that eats you up, as a creative person, is not being creative. Not having that outlet. Not letting yourself explore every bit that calls out to you. Successes of the material world should never be the end goal. That’s not what should drive you. Your soul is what should drive you. That feeling of honouring yourself and all that you contain, that’s what truly matters. In a world that’s full of voices that are shutting you down, look for the ones that are there to lift you up and let your voice be one of those. There will always be people who want to see what you see and hear what you say. I’m so glad to see that you are rising above, Brooke. You have so much to offer the world with your voice and your vision. <3
Sandra Lowe - I wish I could get my creativity/inspiration back! I feel it setting somewhere out on the edge of my awareness. I thought it was completely gone but I can feel it again little by little. It’s blog like this and work like yours that inspire me to look for my passion and creativity. I can’t enter the portfolio critique because I don’t have one yet. Maybe I’ll work on one. I love photography and your so talented it over whelming. Write your book.
robin spalding - 1. YES! i have these grand ideas and i carry them wiwth me forever. but when i think how can i go about doing it everything grinds to a halt and its not yet not yet i need this or when this happens or next year and i keep pushing it off because the anxiety i get about thinking i wont be good enough or ready to do it now. which is really just a way of thinking i will fail. like failing is the be all end all even thru if i did i could just try again but instead i worry im not good enoigh to do it yet and push it off and push it off and im afraid these ideas and creative concepts i have will die with me forever just a dream.
2. i wish i spent more time pursuing the fine art photography. ive done it but things happened and i have been putting it on the back burner and the loger it gets im afraid i wont be able to pick it back up. but it was so exciting and left me feeling so amazing and right that i dont want to give it up.
Vali - i sat in a chair facing the ocean today.
i looked at my dog and the sea and the looming clouds.
i turned on TV and scrolled facebook.
i wasted hours, felt guilt, felt failure, and googled “wasted time.”
i found your site.
i saw your art.
i smiled at how much i’ve already done and it’s never enough.
2 hours lost in a sea of clouds and dog and guilt
In a lifetime of do more, do more, do more…from no education and poverty, to 2 masters and a Phd…survival has never been “take a break you deserve it.”
and today a break makes me think it will all slide back to zero
but it won’t.
I”m between ideas like someone who waits tables between acting gigs my mind immediately thinks i’m “through”…until the next idea pushes me…but the anguish in between…constructed of fear and losses…is not the house I need to live in today. And your site, the opportunity to write words, opened the shutters on my creative windows and I saw the crater Diamond Head and the ocean and the dog and the TV and my chair and it was all there…just waiting for me to draw with words. thank you.
David Thomas - Wasting time ??? I’m never wasting time when I am creating. Rather, I’m inspired, excited, motivated, energized, and oblivious to most everything else. I’M ALIVE ….so it doesn’t matter what I am doing as long as my head is creating
I’m retired. I had two careers one in non-profit management and the other in computer systems management. I burned the candle at both ends working 50-60 hours a week. Now I get to think about photography, fantasize about photography and do photography. I feel liberated.
However, When I watch TV or surf the web I feel terribly guilty about “wasting so much time”. I usually do this when I am procrastinating on making decisions about what to do next creatively. Either I’ve reached an impasse and don’t know how to go forward ….or more important..I afraid to go forward because I’m afraid of failing.
Of course, there is only one answer for this….just do it…my reward will be whatever comes next.
Mari - Dear Brooke, thanks a lot for you writing this. To be honest, I always wait for your Monday letters. There are my Tuesday letters here, since I am far away from the USA.
I constantly feel that kind of guild, I have to say. I worked for a terrible company for about 4,5. The salary was very poor, the job didn’t bring me satisfaction and plus the high management of the company treated people like a garbage. I don’t know why I have been there for such a long period of time. But I live in Russia in a small town. And here one is supposed to have ‘a normal job’. By that they mean the one from 9 to 6. Being an artist is not a job – a lot of people said to me so. I really like taking pictures, creating concepts and writing essays, but I always had a little time for that, because I needed to combined it with that job plus I took the second job (just to have money for living). But now everything has changed. I am a freelancer for 5 months now and my life has never felt better. I still work on my schedule, trying to find the balance between work and leisure.
By the way, I would love to read your novel. And I guess a lot of people from this community as well. You already have your readers We are patient and we do not want to disturb you while brainstorming.
Cindee - 1) Do creative projects ever give you anxiety?
2) What do you wish you spent more time pursuing?
Brooke, you are wise beyond your years!
1)YES!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone of the photography projects do. I’m a sewer and when I am creating in the sewing room I am at peace, the world outside no longer exists. I want that feeling in my photography, but right now it feels like a struggle. Those around me poopoo my endeavors to become a professional photographer as if I’m not making any money at it so it is just a hobby.
2) I wish I had more time to sit and work on my photoshop skills. If I didn’t have to work so hard at it I might find more peace putting whats in my mind to paper.
Zoe - Yes, yes and yes. I have spent the majority of my life doing stuff to pay the bills and not pursuing creative endeavours as much as I would like because I suffered from ‘wasted time’ syndrome. It’s not easy to spend time doing something creative when you know that there may not be a reward at the end of it, especially when you have real responsibilities. And especially when you flit from creative project to creative project. I don’t have an answer, only that, keep at it. Keep writing. It took me an age to be able to call myself a writer but I’ve got my first book out at the end of the month and it feels magnificent. Much love and I’m so pleased to have found your insta account and this blog. x
Andrea - This resonates with me on so many levels. When I first started photography I did it for pure joy. Somewhere along the way I felt I had to start justifying why I was creating. It doesn’t always have to be money – the last real body of work I produced was over a year ago when I was studying photography – because I was a “photography student” I could justify spending time creating, because it had a “legitimate” purpose. I had to postpone my course to return to work because I felt the stable income was a greater need. Now I feel like if I’m going to spend time on photography I have to make it something commercially viable with the aim of building a career out of it – my brain tells me the only way it would now fit into my life would be if I were able to leave my job to pursue it. This has lead to me second guessing everything I create based on it’s “marketability” and “saleability”. I have produced images that people like and that may be technically good but to me they lack soul and so they don’t fill the void that creating used to fill. Only in the last month has my frustration and sadness about this situation come to a point where a concept for a new body of work has started to emerge – darker and deeper but honest. Each time I start to plan, to dedicate time and space to creating it I fight the battle of “wasting time”, of lack of self cofidence, of inadequacy. This morning I asked my husband for his help with a shoot and was able to do so without giving any justification other than “I have an image in my head that needs to come out”. Reading this post has helped me feel that spending time on something that does nothing other than calm my mind and feed my soul is worth the time and energy it takes. Thank you Brooke.
Angie Lambert - You speak to me immediately, with the title. Are You Wasting Time?
Yes, I am wasting time.
I flag the email, not reading it entirely.
I come back.
Your raw question is rubbing like salt a painful wound. Where do we begin to transition from an artful hobby into a guiltless career? I gave up the stressful, unfulfilling job of 20 plus years. I was in it for the wrong reasons. I am a creative spirit, often socially awkward but loving human with a soulful, hopeful heart. Wishful that this unquenchable want to create photographs that touch emotions of others could leave me feeling less guilty. The quilt. You say it correctly, Brooke. To charge for services is a challenge, at best. Is the work good enough? Am I good enough? Perhaps it is indeed a self-value issue.
It’s a puzzle of sorts. Now, I am laughing. I escape one career which is emotional unfulfilling but financially generous. Attempt to begin an artful photography career to find emotional fulfillment only to see this guilt you are describing is a real thing through which to navigate. In reality, the photography needs to make money. There I said it. It is a need. We need to be financially responsible for ourselves, producing an income for ourselves, allowing extra to share with others.
I am at the point of opening a little studio at home. I have the space ready. We live in the woods. There are generous organic options for creative photo shoots, having weekend workshops, and offering innovative escapes to others of our tribe. I love having a homeful of like-minded humans. That inspires me. Sharing fulfills me. Helping others feel safe and see their beauty completes me. It sounds like I am unrealistic, I know. But this is candid. This is real. This is the human that I am.
Today, this morning. This human needs direction, advice, and comfort. A life plan. A confirmation that living a creative life in this organic environment is not just a pipedream but a successful employment opportunity, as well.
Ruth Butler - Thank you Brooke for pulling me out of my funk. My goal is to pay it forward with great art and inspiration.
Ruth Butler - I am also looking to share postive feedback (and struggles– but an emphasis on moving forward) with another(s) in our journey.
if it’s ok to post this is my email ruth 7 0 2 @ a o l dot com without the spaces of course.
please get in touch.
Ann Vargas - Hi Brooke, can I relate? I can relate with what you write a thousandfold! I have too many passions too, and struggle with which ones to persue. I have an essay that I’m working on about the cause and nature of evil. And I’m working on a little book about the psychological/spiritual seasons we go through in life. I have a greeting card line that needs developing and expanding. And a blog that has been sorely neglected….I’m overwhelmed to the point that nothing gets done at all and I go shopping instead. Thanks, Brooke, for your constant words of encouragement and inspiration.