How can we maintain a flourishing creative heart in the midst of the sometimes cold business aspects of creative jobs and flooded work markets? How can we not fall prey to comparison and perfectionism which paralyzes us creatively?
A buzz against the table announces another email in a number that far exceeds your ability to answer today, next to your phone a stack of receipts calling for organization, on your screen several deliverables cued up but not quite complete for anticipating clients, on call waiting for some pertinent package stuck in mailing limbo that you needed yesterday, and surely laundry somewhere, there is always laundry.
Most of our days look more like this than an invigorating day with just you and your medium in a timeless space of creating art. Other days there is that small voice reminding you of that one creative’s work that is on another level than your own; that voice also reminds you its been a while since you were deeply excited about a creative endeavor.
When it comes to entrepreneurial creative jobs, the territory is ripe with both difficulties and great joys. We all go into a creative profession for different reasons, but surely high among most of our lists is a passion for creating; communicating with other souls through color, texture, shape, line, composition, and content. The fact that people can look at art (photography, floral arrangement, dress designs, blog posts, etc) and find joy or companionship in what we make is a great honor; its a harmonizing of souls, seeing that others find beautiful what we find beautiful. How do we reconcile that deep desire with the daily mundane business tasks and crippling doubt?
Along with taxes and the proper URL, caring for your creative heart ought to be high on your list, because to put it flatly, you could be doing something much safer and easier for probably more money, so you might as well be caring for the very passion that started you on this road.
One of the greatest helps can be knowing how creativity works. Many pretend inspiration comes only to the blessed or exceedingly talented, but creativity is much more like gardening than shopping. It takes cultivation, doing the work to allow yourself the time to be creative, surrounding yourself with the proper kindling to create and flourish. This means buckling down and doing the finances, and the emails, and the laundry so that those aren’t looming in your creative time, pulling your attention when inspiration does come. This usually means planning, which is not always the forte of the creative mind. Plan your goals, plan days to knock out finances, be diligent in those allotted times to allow more creative time, plan your space, where you work and what it feels like greatly affects how you create. Nothing kills creativity like a cloud of to-do list items hovering just over your head, or a space filled with unaesthetic vision.
Some aspirations that encourage the creative heart:
1. Be vulnerable, be honest, be brave.
This can be difficult, but the best way to creative art that connects with other people, that makes others gasp or sigh, is to be sensitive, observant, and brave enough to show it
2. Have cheerleaders.
I cannot tell you how many times I am ready to quit only to find an email in my inbox from someone cheering me on, whether friend or stranger, we need community.
3. Create your own definitions (for “success”, for “work”, for “rest”)
Comparison is the thief of joy. -Theodore Roosevelt
This sentiment is true on so many levels. You are unique, your work is unique, therefore your definitions for success, work and rest ought to be unique. Also these definitions ought to be important, and not dependent on how anyone else is creating.
4. Keep moving.
Days come when it all feels like its all gone awry, just keep moving. It can seem daunting when looking at the next six months and what that looks like, but you can keep it up for today. One of the wonderful things about creative jobs is they can change with a phone call, or a connection, or a project, but if you quit then none of those can come.
Art history, graffiti, literature, science, religion, other creative fields. Keep your creative mind stimulated with new and different subjects. This also helps you create new and unique work in your field. If you’re a photographer you should not only look at photography blogs or photography books, you should look everywhere. Same is true of dress designers florists, blog writers, etc.
6. Mourn and celebrate.
Some days you will miss out on wonderful opportunities, or projects don’t go as planned, mourn and move on, don’t just ignore it or let it paralyze you. Other days you will have small victories, celebrate the smallest of victories, because something as mundane as a certain number of Instagram followers can be a reason for a cupcake and being thankful you aren’t in another job.
7. Take as much delight in the journey as the end goal.
Most successful creatives will tell you, they didn’t know where they would end up when they started. We can plan and strive and those are good traits, but we have to be willing to adapt and enjoy each day along the way. You live in a time when you get to be creative for your job, that is a beautiful luxury and honor, treat it as such.
None of these are easy, but nothing worth doing usually is. As a community we can choose to encourage each other or cultivate a hostile environment both for each other and ourselves. Rejoice in the diversity of work, uplift others, be constructive in criticism, and make wonderful art.