Thoughts on discipline for freelancers

I haven’t blogged for a while. I feel bad about that. Therefore, this post is on the subject of discipline.

Judging by how frequently it happens, I can’t be the only person who works from home to hear the words “You must be very disciplined” all of the time. My response is generally that I don’t consider myself to be so. Look at those crazy 9 to 5-ers – getting up at the same time every day, ironing their clothes (pfft! what?), applying makeup, making packed lunches and even removing their dressing gown before starting work. That’s discipline.

I work to a more, ahem, flexible pattern.

Some days I’ll be up with the birdies, watching the sun come up and the lorries deliver bread and milk to the supermarket across the road. I’ll be doodling new illustration ideas, thinking about how to improve my website, cursing myself for not thinking up that awesome design solution before that brochure went to press. Or I’ll use that early-ness to go surfing, or practise yoga.

Other days I’ll wake up about the same time the rest of you are shuffling into your offices. I’ll blearily check my phone for emails and mooch into the next room to start the day. There’ll be a hiatus for a few hours in the evening when I go to my Welsh evening class and then I’ll work again until late upon my return.

What I’m starting to wonder is: is this right? Is this healthy? Is this me at my most productive? I don’t need discipline at all to do my work. None whatsoever. It’s my top priority – there is no other option. Even at my most stressed, I keep on. I may as well have a gun to my head, I’m that dedicated. What I do need discipline for is the other stuff – making time for washing up and riding waves. I’m waking up to the fact that these things are necessary – just as vital as money for the mortgage.

These are the things I need to have in order to be at my most productive/creative:

• clean & tidy environment (housework)
• clean & tidy mind & body (yoga, meditation, surfing, walks in the park, etc)

I’m beginning to appreciate the meaning of that clichéd mantra short-term pain, long-term gain (I’m a slow learner sometimes). Discipline, for me, is regularly doing the things you don’t have to do, because you know they’ll make things better in the long run.

And that is something I don’t have nearly enough of. But I’m working on it…

Anyway, apropos of nothing, here are some little close-ups of stuff I’ve been doing, plus a doodle of a pterodactyl-skull-shaped putty rubber doing a song and dance routine. I’ve got a few projects on the go, so I can only show you selected highlights for now…


Hello there, lovely people. Just a quick post to show you this. I doodle a lot, and sometimes I love a doodle so much I have to keep a record of it. Mr Lion here was drawn in Chapter, where I drag up some of the most interesting articles from my subconscious. In case you are wondering about the speech bubble, he is singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” to a friend of mine.

Be Amazing Today illustration

Well, so I’m waiting for someone to send me a logo so I can finish of a layout they’ve asked me to do, and instead of frittering my time away looking at cowboy boots on ebay I thought I’d do constructive, ie., show y’all a purty picture.

The lovely Noreen of be amazing today commissioned me to create an illustration for her: something she could use on her website, newsletters and other publications. She gave me a very loose brief, and basically told me to use my instinct. I both love it and hate it when clients say that – it’s wonderful when people place such faith in you, but it makes things quite pressurised! Anyhow, I started doodling in graphite pencil, brought the doodle into Photoshop and added colour and more texture, as well as her logo. I then sent Noreen the result. She loved it – phew! Here it is: