Surviving funemployment

Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Justin Heazlewood

Justin Heazlewood standing with the sky at sunset
Justin Heazlewood, Credit: Elise Derwin

If your biggest critic is yourself, chances are you are not alone. Ahead of his workshop on self-care for writers, author and musical performer Justin Heazlewood (also known as the Bedroom Philosopher) gave us his insights into surviving the creative life.

As you say in your course description, being an artist can be a minefield of rejection, self-doubt and all-round general negativity. Why did you choose the artistic life?

Does a bird choose to fly? A hero is not born, they are made. Is that how it goes? (I just saw Wonder Woman). It’s definitely a paradox to be involved in a practice that quells your inner turmoil through the therapy of creativity while sideswiping your ego with the industry seams of poverty and character assassination. But hey, never a dull moment right? Just the tag-team interrogation ghosts of the sun and the moon. According to a bookmark, as a Gemini I am easily bored, so I think the unknowable/unwinnable aspects of art appeal to the madcap maverick in me.

What’s your daily routine like?

I remember as a teenager thinking that writing a book was just the most impossible thing. It wasn’t until I was 32 and started writing ‘Funemployed’ that I actually had the guts to sit down at a desk at the same time every day and ‘become a writer.’ I had a sneaking suspicion this was the only way to get big things done. I taught myself a routine that I still use to this day. I call it ‘school hours.’ Nine to three is my productive time, hitting breaks, walks and yoga on the same marks every day. Then I play on my trampoline and watch Mysterious Cities of Gold. I’m not kidding you, it’s screening on NITV.

What inspired you to write 'Funemployed' in 2014?

My dream job had turned into a nightmare.

How has Australia’s artistic scene changed since then?

As Natasha Pincus, director of Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ video, stated in 'The Monthly', ‘The hurdle of too much content is greater than the previous hurdle of being Australian.’ Yikes! What’s that saying: 'You’ve got to write like nobody’s watching, edit like you’ve never been hurt and submit like you don’t need the money.' People say all kinds of things but books are being published, people are reading them. Birds are still singing because they have to. I actually find birds quite annoying.

Can you give us one self-care tip you wish you’d known about at the start of your career?

Get into advertising. No, seriously folks, um. Any kind of meditation or gentle stretching upon waking creates a wonderful buffer against the stimulus of the day. I’d talk to wide-eyed Justin about the ‘R’ word. Routine is good for writing and mental health.

About Justin Heazlewood

Justin Heazlewood is an award-winning author and musician. As The Bedroom Philosopher he has released three albums including the ARIA-nominated ‘Songs From The 86 Tram’, the video for ‘Northcote (So Hungover)’ earning nearly half a million hits. In 2014 he released his first non-fiction book ‘Funemployed’, about being an artist in Australia. In 2015 an 8-part series was commissioned for RN. He ‘lives’ in Melbourne.