Michael Nobbs is an artist, blogger and tea drinker (not necessarily in that order) who has been blogging since 2004, he lives on the side of hill near the west coast of Wales and likes to keep things simple. Michael answers questions about maintaining a sustainable level of creativity. I recently read his new book Sustainable Creativity, which I think is excellent and totally recommend. If you are super quick you can buy it at a very reasonable rate (US$9) until Sunday October 31st, after which point it will go up in price.
Michael writes and publishes The Beany, an illustrated journal of his life. He talks about drawing and how to get the Important Work done despite having limited energy. Michael was diagnosed with ME/CFS in the late 1990s and over the last decade has learnt a lot about sustaining a creative career with limited energy.
You can follow Michael on Twitter.
Some of these questions were donated by the fabulous Helen Lehndorf.
HL: How do you work through your creative low patches?
MN: I don't always work through them, because creative low patches often correspond with physical low patches so have to get dealt with with lots of TLC (and tea drinking). That said, if I can, I try to do a little (sometimes very little) bit of creative work most days.
HL: Have you ever felt like chucking your blog in? If so, how did you resist the urge?
MN: I've never really felt like giving up on my blog, though it has at times been almost in hibernation (a bit like me). For the two years I studied for my MA my blog as very quiet, and at times when my health has been particularly poor posts have been quite sporadic.
Over the six or so years I've been writing it it has been a huge help in shaping me as an artist and a writer. I'm so grateful that I live when I do, with all the Internet has to offer.
HL: What is the weirdest fan/admirer interaction you've had?
MN: Nothing weird so far. I live in hope...
HL: What is the best thing that's happened to you through your online life?
MN: Learning to think of myself as an artist, and then as an artist who makes his living from his work.
HL: How much time do you spend on your art everyday?
MN: Ten minutes some days, more when I can.
HH: I think your suggestion of bites sized chunks of work is great for everyone, especially procrastinators like me, not just people with low energy. Have you got any other tips to trick our procrastinating / tired selves into productivity?
MN: Get a timer! Just setting it for twenty minutes (or even ten on a bad day) every day and working on something until it rings means you can slowly but surely build up a body of work.
HH: Do you think procrastination can have it's uses? I read this article recently...
MN: Good article. I think it is always important to be kind to ourselves, especially if we are ill and limited in energy, but even if we are healthy.
It is very easy to decide we are lazy (and from my experience it is often the people that push themselves the hardest that give themselves the worst time about being "lazy"). I spent years berating myself for not doing more, when in actual fact I was pushing myself far too hard and just making myself ill. Better to be gentle with ourselves, recognise we have limits and work within in them. That said, if you really want to do something, don't be put off by how overwhelming it seems, just think of the first little step you can take to get started, and then the next and then the next...
HH: Joseph Beuys said "Everyone is an artist". What would you say to critics of this quote?
MN: Everyone is welcome to their opinion.
HH: I would add that perhaps we should not see creativity as the special realm of "artists", but that everyone should apply creative thinking in their own area of specialisation - whatever that may be.
HH: What are the benefits of cataloguing / drawing everyday things?
MN: They are handy. When I was at my illest, the things in front of me were the only things I could draw. The habit stuck.
HH: What are you reading at the moment?
MN: A Year of Questions by Fiona Robyn