We asked artists: What’s your schedule like?

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Art by Wendy Weldon.

This week, The MV Times Calendar section continues prying into the lives of local artists and writers. Many of them have the luxury of creating their own schedule, which is great, until of course, they get bored or uninspired. Without a boss to crack the whip, they are responsible for self-motivating. So we asked:

When do you work? Is it the same hours every day? Do you have any tricks to get you “unblocked”?

  • I have been known to work until 4 am at times when I can’t stop painting, and those are the days I don’t show up at the gym. I am grateful for my painter passion, and when I get into the zone, it completes me. —Donna Straw
  • I don’t work at the same time every day. And I don’t write every day. But I would say if you’re an artist and you’re stuck, sit down and write about “a time you weren’t invited.” Could be seventh-grade boy-girl party, could be your mother’s wedding to a third guy, could be last week’s dinner party at your supposed dear friend so-and-so’s. And if you’re a writer and you’re stuck, go buy some crepas and draw a line with the magenta crayon, and then smudge, then use the orangey-yellow one, and then smudge it, and you’re off and running. —Nancy Aronie
  • I get up and walk to my studio at around 9, 9:30, and usually work there until around 3. I stop at the grocery store and then paint in my apartment until dinnertime. If I feel blocked creatively, I’ll go to the art store and get some new stuff I’m not used to, or I will go to a museum. —Colin Ruel
  • I work steadily, a little bit here and there, throughout each day, and sometimes a lot more. I find that creative energy comes naturally in waves, so you just need to learn to work with those fluctuations. As much as I keep a steady pace, I also drop all thought processes about my work on a regular basis and concentrate on other aspects of life, and people in my life, along with taking time to enjoy other artists’ artwork. I find all that helps me a lot. —Christopher Wright
  • Dedicated studio time every day, most of day. Wintertime brings more quiet and  calm to focus on making art. My trick to get unblocked is to open the tube and squeeze paint on palette, then do not answer phone or emails. —Carol Brown Goldberg
  • Every Saturday morning is reserved for creating 10 to 12 gag sketches to submit to “The New Yorker.” If I am lucky, I sell about two or three a year. I could build a new house out of the boxes crammed with rejected sketches in my basement.  —Paul Karasik
  • Late morning to early evening is when the painting gets done, after farm chores are out of the way and I’ve had a chance to read about four newspapers. The best cure for a creative block is a deadline, so I make sure I have lots of ‘em. —Elizabeth Whelan
  • As soon as my son goes to school at 7 am, I feed the alpacas, then get to work until about three, when I allow myself the immense treat of an hour or so on horseback. —Geraldine Brooks
  • I believe that a consistent presence in the studio, a commitment of regular hours, works the best for me. I aim to spend Monday-Friday in the studio. Winter weekends are reserved for recharging and family. I have always believed that showing up to work is the best “trick” to keep the creativity flowing. —Deborah T. Colter
  • I work mostly in the day until 7 in the evening. It takes awhile to really focus on my work. I paint distractedly all day, with a surge of energy happening at the end of the day. I take walks with my partner and our dog. This helps unleash the creative spirit. Showing up in the studio is what gets the work done. Sometimes I am inspired, sometimes not, but when I am in the studio, work happens. —Wendy Weldon
  • I work weekdays from about 8-5, basically the hours our son is at school or in transit. I have many struggles as a writer, but being “blocked” isn’t one of them. If all else fails, desperation and fear keep me banging at the keyboard. —Tony Horwitz
  • Gosh, I wish I was disciplined enough to work on the same schedule every day. It’s always a balance between computer work, sit-down work, and getting outside or exercising. I set up a ton of fun activities so I can work for the rest of the day or night, like ice hockey, martial arts, viola lessons, or going for hikes and bike rides. When I’m in a funk, it might mean I need to get oxygen going and blood pumping. I volunteer as a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line, where I talk people down from committing suicide. That always stirs interesting emotions to where I pull inspiration from. —Danielle Mulcahy
  • Being moved to write or paint usually comes from something you’ve seen or read or heard. It’s that urge to talk back, respond, be moved, to take part in the conversation. It’s almost uniquely human. We don’t have to spend the day foraging. We transfer our hunger to the senses and the mind, where all kinds of languages exist. We hold the keys; it’s up to each of us to unblock the channels. —Fan Ogilve