I have seen three types of creative work in my life –
- Creation for joy – This creator creates her work for herself. It doesn’t matter how many people read her book, buy her art, listen to her music or download her app. She creates solely for the joy, curiosity and love of creation. She does it because it matters to her. She creates because she can’t not create. She may have a full time job and her art maybe her weekend project or her source of income. It doesn’t matter when she creates or how much time she gives to her art but what matters is that she spends time on her calling for at least a few hours every month. She does it with consistency, without judgment, with love for herself and her work.
- Creation for impact – This creator creates for the joy of creating but also hopes to be of service to others. She wants to make a difference in the world with her art. It doesn’t matter what exactly the impact is but she wants her art to be of value beyond her own self. For this artist, the art could be a source of income or not. This artist strikes the balance between what her heart wants to create and what can make a difference in the lives of her audience.
- Creation for a career – This creator creates for the joy but also hopes to make a career out of her creations. She works very hard to make her calling a career a calling and has finally found fruition in this aspiration. Success to her means being able to earn a full time living wage creating the work she was meant to do.
I deeply admire all three types of creators. I am humbled by their love for their callings and curiosities and their efforts in making time for their work whether or not it their vocation. However, in our culture, we revere and greatly celebrate creator # 3. We are somehow believe that if our creation isn’t paying the bills it is less worthy and what makes me most sad about this is that we stop trying, we stop feeding our curiosities and we kill our callings by getting more busy. It may be true that your hobby or project may never earn a dollar and that you have to keep a day job and I’d love to remind you (and myself too!!) that it is not only okay, it is incredibly beautiful. Also, for so many creators who are currently able to pay their bills with their art, you have to remember they started with a scrappy, imperfect version of their work. They started with joy, did more of the work, improved on their art, found people who’d pay for their work before it became a vocation.
Here’s what I have learnt along the way
- Don’t compare your first page of a book to someone else’s finished book. (Thanks Jeena Cho for that reminder!!). You haven’t seen their first page and all the pages that were killed to create the book you are holding. Start somewhere!
- It doesn’t matter what the creation is. If you are creating something for one person, its worthy of love. If it can help someone else, it is worthy of love. If it is created with love but no one else benefits from it, it is worthy of love.
- Notice your relationship with sharing your work. I am not referring to social media blasts but how the ego interferes with your sharing your joy with a close friend. How your inner critic may tell you that no one will appreciate your pictures so you deprive so many others of that beautiful sunset on the beach. Also, notice how you believe that you are suddenly more important when 100 or 1000 people like that picture.
- Stay consistent with showing up. It is not whether your colors are perfect. What matters is you show up with paint on your canvas and create. The cadence doesn’t matter. It maybe once a day, it maybe once a week or once every 2 weeks but show up.
- Love yourself when you don’t feel called to create. We are all born to create something – whether it’s a loaf of bread or an origami paper boat. There will be days when the transactions of life take over. There will be moments when your hands will feel stiff and words will not flow. That is okay and part of the creative journey. Some days your art will not look good, remember to show up again
- Is there something that you want to make? What is coming in the way? What are the stories that you are telling yourself?
- What can you do to create time in your life? Does it mean waking up early one morning a week? Does it mean cooking extra and freezing? Does it mean saying no to that 5th birthday party this coming weekend? Does it mean working a fewer hours for a few months and taking a small pay cut?
- What can you do to create support in your life? Do you need to love yourself and remind that you are worthy of this creation? Does it mean joining a group so you find like minded people?
With love and in support of your creations!
Share what you want to create and what comes in the way… You will be surprised that you are not alone!!