2020, crumbs what a year it’s been so far. I had returned back from maternity leave and after seeing a business coach I had a perfect plan in place to build my existing illustration career. I was excited to return to work and get back to my drawing desk, and with my second book about to be published I was pumped.
I kept hearing rumblings of the coronavirus but I honestly didn’t think it would hit so hard. My work was flowing, my girls in school and nursery and all was well.
Then March arrived and BOOM we were in lockdown, suddenly we were all thrown into an existence we had no preparation for. School and nurseries closed, my husband was at home at all times and we were only allowed out of the house for thirty minutes a day. This was cabin fever like I had never known. I was used to the hunkering-down stage of having a newborn but this was another level and with no punctuation of coffee dates with other mums or help from my mum/ in laws.
At first I think I quite enjoyed it.
"Oh, it's so peaceful," we thought. And "how nice is it to slow down." My husband luckily could work from home and we managed to juggle so I could have some time after lunch to work. Quite a few of my projects were put on hold and my next book's publication date was pushed out from April to the autumn.
Weirdly I didn’t mind too much as the kids were at home, so a lot of my time was taken up with them, and because my work had slowed, finally I had time to focus on my own projects and at first I loved the creative freedom without back-to-back briefs or deadlines.
But after a couple of months, this feeling started to be taken over by another. I started to doubt my skills and myself and I ended up in a really negative thought cycle. I felt the pressure of being a good parent whilst trying to keep my illustration business going. I realised that actually what I thought was going to be fun with having total creative freedom wasn’t actually what I wanted. I missed working with new clients, speaking on the phone and having meetings. I missed people! My illustrations were no fun without the connection to people. I missed that feeling of a happy client and being proud of my work.
I hit a wall a couple of weeks ago. I kept sitting at my desk and panicking, then I couldn’t get what I wanted out onto paper and then I would feel rubbish. I had lost my spark and was experiencing a mammoth creative block. So I hit the pause button and stopped.
I am now two weeks into my break and I feel so much better - with the pressure off I now have some clarity in how I want to adapt my illustration business in the face of covid.
I realise that it’s all about balance between working with clients as well as my own projects; they are both just as important as each other. And once again, I feel excited about getting back to work in September.