Are You Just Lazy?

by Owen Garratt | The Effective Artist

B elieve it or not, this is a self-image thing that I’ve dealt with for years. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been trying to get out of doing things that I just couldn’t seem to get excited about. I procrastinated with disastrous effect.

On everything.

And somewhere long the way, the label of ‘laziness’ got hung on me, and I seemed to have accepted it.  Then came the terrible circumstance where one is seemingly powerless to prevent yourself from acting out your own self image. (I suspect my weight struggles are in the same line, but I digress)Schtick Artist being lazy_optBut somehow it didn’t quite ring true; I’d work to the point of exhaustion on certain things – to the exclusion of virtually everything and everyone else…that’s not being lazy.

I had one lunatic girlfriend conclude that I must just be a selfish ass who doesn’t do anything for anyone else.

Hmmm. Closer perhaps, but still not quite right.

Okay, I don’t have an answer, and THAT’S the point. We don’t need to become perfect to make things work for us.

I still wrestle with near daily guilt over things left undone, I do things at inopportune times – while being wracked with guilt – like web surfing, watching TV, staying up late, leaving projects unfinished while I work on unimportant stuff in an effort to kid myself that I’m still productive (The Colonel used to use the housecleaning excuse to procrastinate on tasks she didn’t like. I finally got a housekeeper to come in and ruined it for her. Haw!)

So grasshopper, here’s the thing. We all have to grow up some time, me included. We don’t need to ‘heal ourselves’ or wait until we’re somehow a perfect manifestation of whatever it is we were put here to do…we just have to go to work.

Sorry; there’s just no way around it. We just have to accept that there are a certain number of things that need doing, and as it’s our lives, it’s our responsibility to see that they get done.

That doesn’t necessarily mean WE have to do it, we just have to make sure it happens.

Here’s my 3-step method to getting more stuff done.

Have Faith, Grasshopper.  I’ve developed and worked up a little faith that I can figure it out, or I find someone else who can. That’s the biggie. Don’t let unknown factors cramp you up and cause you to put things off.  Figure it out.

Use external commitments. This I just a fancy way of saying that I use deadlines. If there’s someone relying on me, I’ll get it done way before I’ll sweat my own stuff.

Remember that we’ve overcome discomfort before. Remember your first drink of alcohol?  Ghastly.  Somehow we managed to overcome that and most of us swill it back with some regularity.  Or smoking; remember the nausea and fetching green color we turned after that first ciggy?  Somehow I overcame that to do a pack a day for 18 years (quitting is easy with a couple of tweaks to the old mindset, but that’s a different topic).

I’ve not had the benefit of the experience myself, but I understand that childbirth is dashed uncomfortable, yet most women have a couple of goes at it!

The point is that we need to slap ourselves awake and see that all this discomfort is only mental and we’ve overcome much worse. We’re not children anymore. It’s time to get serious about things. Figure it out. Get it done. NOW.

And remember, we’re here to help!

Check out The Fast Start Art Marketing Primer!

 Check out the Fast Start Art Marketing Primer!

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Durham, NC

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“Owen’s course literally saved me from a slippery path that I would probably have never recovered from.”

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Kingman, AZ


  1. Karman

    I don’t really know why..Your insight rings pretty close to the heart. I feel there has been times in my life that I have been more productive. It’s not that i’m afraid to work… It’s just waking up and getting over myself.

    Faith, in myself as an Artist. Add a deadline, and knowing everything is going to work out fine…

    Thanks Owen for the words of wisdom…

    Have an Awesome Day.


    • Owen Garratt

      Thanks Karman!

      It happens to all of us from time to time. I think all artists have to go through spells of ‘ennui’. I also think that fighting this phenomenon is a lot like how my British great-grandfather (and absolute hero) described courage “Everyone’s afraid all the time m’boy, one just can’t let it freeze one to the spot!” And, I think, the act of just rolling up one’s sleeves and DOING something – even badly – can go along way to shaking oneself out of it.

  2. Laurie

    G’day Owen 🙂
    Great post! I relate very well in many ways. My main challenge though is that I “should” have all the housework & jobs done before making art. That way then I won’t be the worst wife & mother on earth ;). The things we choose to believe!

    Hard to shift that guilt though, until I remember that guilt is a position, not an emotion… A position of being either in the right or the wrong. I suppose the emotion is sorrow or fear or bad memories maybe.

    There’s another lie in my head too – “get a real job”. Ah huh. Our society is saturated with images yet making images is not a real job somehow…

    I’m glad for your openness – thank you :).

    Have a good one.

    • Owen Garratt

      As one who is fundamentally unemployable, I can say that ‘real jobs’ are the pits! 🙂

      I’ve found that it comes down to scheduling and prioritizing and getting it out of my head and out where I can see it, whether it’s a computer screen, paper, whiteboard, etc. We must ‘quell amorphousness’ and get all that mental fog out of our heads and be able to see what we want to get done.

      It’s the difference between opening a nice crisp newspaper and a newspaper that’s been strewn about by a toddler and wadded together again. One is easy to get through and enjoyable, one is frustrating and hard to use…but they both contain the same info…!


    Hi Owen….As a former student of FLY ON THE WALL MARKETING COURSE…I’ve learned so much….especially marketing. My problem is motivation …….how to get going to do things….my real problem is the value of money…….it doesn’t motivate me or inspire me. I just don’t get it. Your course was great…..but i’m not taking action…..I know I should do it……but I don’t. What’s your insight on this….I just don’t understand!

    • Owen Garratt

      Hey Steve!

      There’re typically two reasons: 1) you’re overwhelmed with details and possibilities, 2) plain old fear

      The second one os the more common. Fear of the unknown.

      “What if I do all of this work and I fail? Does that mean my work is a flop?!”
      “What if I’m successful – will I suddenly be judged?”
      “what if I get so busy I hate it?!”

      The way to combat both of these is just to do SOMETHING. The cure for fear is ACTION. Decide something, and make it happen! If you’re like me, you want everything done NOW, and the fact it can’t happen in an instant brings me down…

      So pick a small victory and build on it. Sign up for ActiveCampaign and spend an afternoon going through their tutorials. Easy!

      Then jot down a list of the 4 or 5 emails that you want to send to new folks who join your list.

      Copy and paste them into AC…etc etc etc.

      You need to understand that – like creating art – motivation has NOTHING to do with it!

      For instance, last week I was commissioned to do a portrait of a gal on a 3rd tier reality show. She’s a nice enough gal as it turns out, but I had exactly ZERO motivation to do it. I have an ongoing list o about 378 other things that required my attention, I had an upcoming eye surgery, I hadn’t finished binge-watching the latest season of Trailer Park Boys, and so on.

      But where is it dictated that we must be excited about what we need to do? It’s a myth; kind of like expecting violins to soar in the background when we fall in love.

      Most of what we do smacks of drudgery, but so what?

      The sense of pride in having done it is worth it! 🙂


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