How many times do you hear about people who choose a certain job in order to balance their creative ventures? And how many of them end up in the shifting sands of business and lose the time they hoped they would have gained?
Should you let your dream winnow down into nothingness for the sake of self preservation of the financial kind?
Surely there has to be a balance, right?
Perhaps the balance is finding the difference between the business person and the creative pursuits you have in mind.
Let’s take a wonder and have a ponder, shall we?
Creative time versus work time
So what if you don’t have a time clock to punch or someone to justify your time usage to on a day to day basis. That doesn’t mean you won’t sucker punch yourself with deadlines, distractions and moments that could be better scheduled.
Creative time comes from being able to protect what you need in order to be creative. If that’s extra time, setting aside afternoons, critically thinking alone you won’t get any of these done if you don’t make it a priority.
Spare time is a fallacy. It was a myth invented to give us the luxurious feeling of not being ‘owned’ by someone. It is the idea we don’t owe someone something. But you do owe someone something. You owe it to yourself.
So you can pretend that creativity is a side effect of setting your own timetable, or you can get on with being creative on the bus, in the shower and instead of watching that second TV program at night.
What’s it going to be? Your creative pursuits or focussing your energy on your job?
Go here, meet that person. Join this event, listen to that person.
Who is my competitor? Should I do that because she did it, too? What’s trendy at the moment?
That person doesn’t like it. That person wants a bell instead of a whistle. Why aren’t people pleased?
Playing the game to suit everyone else says you have no idea what you are doing. You externalise everyone else’s attempts at creativity and forget to look at your own.
They don’t live and breathe your project. They see it for 5 minutes, form an opinion and move on. With that in mind, how much weight should you really give to a person who is merely a 5 minute expert?
Creativity is about eliminating, not indulging external distractions.
The work rule book
You put the keyword in, you put the timetable out, you put the latest meme in and you shake it all about.
The song of the boring is long and monotonous. It begins with meeting all rules and expectations and it ends before you exceed them. It is the dull and dusty, colour-by-numbers that makes the person at the top of the advice pyramid rich while those below scrabble to throw more money skyward.
Don’t be the person who safely, softly steps through the process of creativity re-purposing every piece of advice until you can no longer create. Recognise the imitation and bash that template to the proper shape for your needs. Steal like the artist you are.
The reality is the person who thinks they know everything is the person with the least amount of creative spark. Stay open, curious and continue to challenge the ideas around you.
Stay in hot pursuit of that clever thinking and creative ideal.
Making the hard choices
Having a life based on creative pursuits is about making the hard choices. It’s about stepping out of the comfort zone and going for it. It isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s about the cool breeze twitching the goose-flesh of your vulnerably bare arse cheeks.
To be creative, you have to say no a lot. You have to be brutal in the protection of your vision. You need to work until your fingers are purple with ink and pen depressions. It’s that sickness you feel as you reach the 90% completed mark wondering if you’ve just wasted the last six months of your life on something you can no longer see because you are too close to it, and that all of the audience could reject.
It doesn’t come from seeing what everyone else puts out there and sticking your sunny brand on it. It isn’t the great “let’s re-wrap someone else’s idea and run with it” marketplace so many creative practitioners and business people would like it to be.
Tin-pot popularity comes with the price. To be loved by the middle majority, you need to be a vacant vessel filled with the shallow answers to the basic questions of life. It means being the click-bait queen or the catch-phrase concubine. It means creating something that sounds like it belongs on a thousand things but none in particular. It is the terrain of the infinitely forgettable.
Would you rather be forgotten by a room full of people for your karaoke covers or cherished by a loyal few for your original ideas?
Staying true to your goals
Who am I? Why am I doing this? How will I achieve it? Where is my version of success?
These are the questions you need to ask yourself. In isolation, far from the glare of the radiating influences of competitors, ‘thought leaders’ and self proclaimed gurus.
Your idea is your idea. How can they really know the essence of that idea if it is not theirs?
If everyone does all the same things, the creativity is lost and it becomes the standard. Beards become less attractive because everyone has one. Thai is no longer novel in the suburbs brimming with restaurants. Thick rimmed glasses don’t make the fashion statement they used to.
True creativity doesn’t come from a boil-in-the-bag experience.
Work conditioning versus creative thinking
Work is about reward. Work is about receiving money for your labour. It’s about having drinks at the end of a hard day. It’s about promotions and parties, trips and education. Lovely little pats on the back from the boss and high fives from your colleagues.
Creative thinking is none of these things. It’s a thankless process where the very applied, the very talented or the very focussed make big bickies. Creativity is that thing you squeeze into the end of the day instead of the drinks with the girls.
It’s asking why, perpetual curiosity, and doing things without the cheer squad.
It’s not about being known for what you do and people looking at you in awe. It’s about working on something YOU believe works and working out ways to convince others of the same.
So stop thinking about what everyone else thinks and get into it.
The only thing standing between you and your creative pursuits is… well, you.
Do you agree?