ProTipMKSadlerHow 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.

5. Pull inspiration from everywhere.

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.


Comments (14)

Jordan Weiland | Reply

This is so great! Thanks for posting. It’s always wonderful to read well-rounded articles that put the focus back where it should be.

shannon | Reply

LOVE this. Perfectly outlined and well said. something we should all think about. thank you!

Scott O'Malley | Reply

This is beautiful and super encouraging! Thanks for taking the time to write and share it Meghan. I, for one, love your work and am glad you’ve kept creating.

Brandi | Soiree | Reply

I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate this article. It came at a perfect time, and is a perfect reminder of truth in a creative business. Thank you!

Emily Steffen | Reply

WOW! Nailed it! :)

Crystal S. | Reply

Such an encouraging reminder, thank you Meghan!

Brent Deitrich | Reply

Perfect! Just what I needed

Maile Maui Weddings | Reply

What a beautiful article. We couldn’t agree more. Have a wonderful 2015 and thanks so much for this article, Meghan.

Jess Smith | Reply

Such beautiful and true words! Thank you for the encouragement!

jessica sloane | Reply

meghan, this is so beautifully written and really resonated with me. thank you for sharing your heart!

Anne-Marie Bouchard | Reply

I love your last point (as well as all the others but especially your last point). Thank you for putting these thoughts down on paper.

Jayme Ditto | Reply

We talk about this almost daily. Today I re-read this. And I will come back to read this on my down days. Thanks for being a fellow cheerleader and writing & making such beautiful things. <3

Chloe | Reply

I enjoyed reading this and the practical application of how to stay inspired. I always tell the photographers I mentor to celebrate their successes as it will keep them sane. Amen to that!

Nicki Cloud | Reply

I had been saving this in my inbox to find time to read…you know, whenever that magical “free time” presents itself. In a mechanical way, I thought it would be good advice to add to my stack of good advice that I accumulate in the day-to-day blog posts and articles. This morning, though, I felt a stronger pull to allow myself to run behind schedule and read this. Over the last week I have been performing a spotty internal analysis…recognizing a hard shell growing over my creative soul, but not having time to chip away at it. The shell is made of numbers, networking, marketing, and finances…and I can feel myself losing touch with that fiery spirit inside – the real me – the reason for all of this. I can see it affecting my communication and my relationships as I lose that authenticity. So I continue to check off “To Do”s frantically hoping that I will get them all checked and be left with an empty list, and the time/energy (yeah right!) to give my creativity some fresh air. Except, that time never comes. There are never no more “To Do”s! There is never any energy left. Last night I spoke to a friend that has made a drastic transformation to her focus, drive, and passion in the last few weeks by taking time out of her schedule to exercise her body and heart. That stuck with me, and when I read your article this morning, it was exactly what I needed to drive the message home. I need to put the creativity back in the forefront, and let the business aspects be a support to that, not the other way around. I need to *make* time for my creative heart to beat, not find time. Thank you for your perfectly timed message, and your willingness to be candid about the real life challenges of a creative career.