Like many creative people, I struggle with finding the time to be suitably focused on creative projects, and making a living at the same time.
While we are being creative, we are completely and unwaveringly attentive to the project at hand, whether you’re a painter, sculptor, musician, comedian, writer (like myself), or involved in any other millions of creative pursuits. Creatives possess a mentality that doesn’t often thrive under the overly structured corporate mindset. When we find ourselves stuck in the “rut” of a nine to five job, we imagine our souls withering, dying from lack of fresh air and sunlight. And we’re not wrong, for forcing ourselves to perform menial tasks simply in order to maintain a steady income is the conundrum so many of us find ourselves burdened with.
It’s not unusual (cue the Tom Jones song here) to find ourselves unhappy and depressed, feeling like we’ve sold out in some way because we chose to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. And because of this unhappiness, we may find ourselves being combative in the workplace, or disdainful of our surroundings, or bitter about the non-creative work we’re forced to endure eight or more hours a day.
I took my first 9-to-5 position in 2005, when I grew tired of struggling for a steady income and medical benefits. Part-time or contract work doesn’t afford us to enjoy those perks, and so we make decisions based on our perception of survival in the world instead of honoring our creative souls. As a writer, this might be doubly difficult, in that the writing process takes a long time to reach a completion. Sometimes months, sometimes years. And that’s after the lengthy apprenticeship we spend learning our craft. I have one novel that is going on 12 years as a work-in-progress, while several others have taken only six or eight months from start to completion. Like artists who work in different mediums, we never seem to be quite satisfied that the work is done, ready for the worlds’ collective eyes. Many of us learn to intuitively recognize the flash of genius that seems to happen far too infrequently…but when it occurs, it’s better than great sex. We simply know
it’s ready. There’s little more satisfying than that. And because it happens so infrequently, we carefully gaurd that flash with tremendous protectiveness. We don’t want others to steal it, or to lose it through inappropriate use, or for some other vague and probably nonexistent reason.
So how do we find that work-art balance? How does that manifest? I took voluntary layoff from that first corporate job in 2010, and was glad to do so. I didn’t thrive in that atmosphere. Too restricting, too mind-numbing for me. Since then, I’ve been struggling to keep any kind of income coming in. Each successive position I’ve held, I lost — either through quitting on my own, or being terminated because the position just wasn’t a “good fit” for my temperament. The more I forced myself to conform, the less happy I became. And the less happy I became, the more I would be disruptive in workplace, as if my creative soul had taken control of my body and was trying to force me back into a more suitable place. That place would be one in which I would exercise my creativity every. single. day.
Yet I still need that elusive income.
So now I’m performing some creative restructuring…attempting to determine how I can work in gainful employment and still support my creativity. One book I’ve found useful is “Career Solutions for Creative People: How To Balance Artistic Goals with Career Security” by Dr. Ronda Ormont. This book asks some very direct and tough questions, that, if one answers truthfully, can be a tremendous resource.
I will likely post more on this topic as I research and explore the idea and theory I have that it can be done, and done in such a way as to be meaninful, satisfying, and creatively productive.