Creative is more than being an artist.
It’s interesting I have been getting a lot of emails lately asking where I exactly am I in the creative world. This strikes me odd for a couple of reasons. One, there’s the assumption a person can “leave” the creative world and that I’ve done just that or the second that because I am not posting sketches or art or talking about the woe’s of an artist, I am not involved as a creative anymore. And neither could be further from the truth.
What is true is that being a full-time traditional artist/writer wasn’t my calling; I am not good at it really and don’t get much joy from it. I require living a full life (travel, work, people) in order to write and create so working at home, alone, just isn’t useful or healthy for me. I’m someone who thrives by working with people, I love dressing up and having a place to go, I love changing up my work and incorporating art and business. Although it took me awhile to realise both those things and I’m glad I tried to be that full-time creative from home to really learn really what does – and doesn’t – work for me. And when something doesn’t work, I shift and find something that does.
What my experience has also taught me is that “Creativity” is a HUGE word – bigger than “art” and “writer” and talking about feelings, fears, dreams. There are people that can do those things and even I did them when I first started to be full-time creative in 2001. There was a purpose for me being a writer then and talking about what I was going through. That purpose was this site which launched Another Girl at Play which launched a lot of artists, female oriented creative sites, a creative community and a whole new movement online. But once that purpose wore off, I was a very unhappy creative person because just talking about being a writer, just talking about being creative and staying stuck in that role was anything but creative!
It’s often so easy to see when you’re in an unhappy rut in a corporate job but not so easy when you run your own company doing what you supposedly love. It can get so easy to become stuck playing out the artist or writer role, of making personal discoveries you feel you must share every day and talking only with other artists and so forth. I think that can be a dangerous path to be on. I take a look at some of the people who started out along with me or just after and see them in the same place mentally, physically and creatively. Nothing new is coming out. Nothing new is being produced in their creative communities. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of joy but a lot of struggle and always challenges at self-acceptance. I think that’s because they’re stuck and it’s scary to let go. It’s so scary to stop what isn’t working – we all know this. But if what you’re doing is creative and supposed to be amazing, it can seem like a downright failure to stop – especially if you’re public about it.
I went through through this fear around 2005 when I didn’t want to be a full-time writer,didn’t want to be a famous blogger, and didn’t want to be the poster child for leaving a corporate gig for a creative one. I was so sick of hearing my own thoughts let alone sharing them and championing women into a role I didn’t necessarily believe was right for everyone. So I became quiet and shifted on my own.
I began working on film sets, I began helping producers adapt books into movies, I worked on web sites and wrote content for major companies like Disney. I created still life’s in famous stores and travelled the world to write about it for major publications. I consulted with new media companies about how to get into social media without losing the human touch, I helped all my friends who had their own businesses learn about branding and PR and contracts. Working with others and often other companies, is where I found my real groove. It’s where I came alive and where I found personal success that has been sustaining me all these last few years.
Although I love photography and sometimes sell my work with a travel article or for an ad campaign, I have no desire to do gallery shows anymore or sell prints. And travel writing is something I love doing on the side but right now, it’s not something I want to do full-time. And painting? Drawing? I’ve always hated it because I’ve never been good at it or crafty and trying to make myself enjoy it was a mess! So I have all these passions – photography, writing, travel – but I actually don’t make a full-time living at them and actually enjoy them so much more because there’s no pressure attached to them. They’re in incorporated into all my jobs and my life and that’s what keeps me going.
It’s why I now really believe that one should not always pursue their passion but bring their passion to everything they do. And I do. There is not one task I take on that I do not love, believe and want to be a part of. When I work, I love it. I’m creative. I play at my job and succeed at it – whatever it is. I don’t define it, I don’t measure it, I don’t say it has to be X and if it’s Y I’ve failed and I do not ever worry about it changing. Creativity means change and if you’re not comfortable with that, then really, do the steady 9-5 thing. You will, in the long run, be much more happy. I assure you. And there is no shame in that. There is shame in living a life you think you should have, whether it’s in the corporate or creative world, and not really loving it.
One finds happiness in the actions of their purpose and not in the dreaming and talking of it. Be weary of anyone who tells you otherwise and especially of anyone who is only doing the talking! Life is really in the doing so really make sure you’re doing something you want to do – whether it’s arty or business, in an office or at home – and that you’re bringing all you’ve got to it each and every day. And if it’s not working, look at why it’s not and tweak it until it’s not working anymore and then move on.