I am taking a break from regular content to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart: earning a living through creative work.
By definition, a creative professional financially supports him/herself through art or creative endeavors. This includes, but is not limited to musicians, photographers, actors, composers, writers, singers, filmmakers, performers, entrepreneurs, etc.
What qualifies me to talk about this? I worked a variety of steady corporate jobs for fifteen years, performing various roles in banking and insurance.
That all changed four years ago when I got downsized in the aftermath of a corporate merger and began to support myself and my family through my own creation – this very food blog. You can read more about my particular career path here, if you are curious.
But I’m note here to talk about my food blog today. I want to talk about art.
And specifically, the group of us who have chosen to support ourselves through our art. We are a very misunderstood group of people, y’all.
So allow me to speak for us, if I may. Here are a few things we wish you understood about us.
1. We actually do work!
Let me confess that I feel So. Very. Misunderstood by my peers. I feel sort of like the Chandler Bing of my friend group. Nobody gets what I do.
I would venture to guess that at least half or more think that I don’t work outside the home. Or they think my blog is some little side hobby that earns me fun money on the side.
Many think I am a stay-at-home mom, which by the way is a completely honorable (and undervalued by society!) life choice. I am not offended by this assumption from my peers. Many of my days may look like a stay at home parent, as I shuffle what our family needs on any given day.
But then I will get a comment like this: “Your daughter is in school five days a week? What?! Why?” Um, because I work full time.
Or people automatically assume I have a ton of free time. Actual comment said to me by one of my friends: “Are you going to sign up to be room mom?” Um, no. Nothing against the room mom. I just don’t have time due to the fact that I work full time.
2. Works hours are not static
Nine to five is arbitrary. Perhaps this is part of why people think we don’t work? 🙃
Allow me to elaborate. When you support yourself through creative means, you are kind of at the mercy of when that great idea comes through. This can be confusing to some because even if it looks like we are not working, we are literally always working.
How so? Creative flow and inspiration can strike at any time. So we are literally always on standby, waiting ready to receive that creative jolt of a glorious new idea. It can hit when we are at the park with our kids, or when we lie awake at night, or even mid conversation.
I don’t know about you, but I do not have the ability to box my creative flow into business hours.😂💁🏼♀️ Maybe I implement those ideas while my kids are at school. But my brain and my heart is always open to receiving that new idea that wants to be birthed into the world.
3. We actually can financially support ourselves and our families
“How do you justify paying for childcare?” 👈🏻Literally, not one person asked me this when I worked for a large company. I have gotten this (or some similar question/ comment) many, many times. 🙄
And how am I supposed to respond to this exactly? 😂🤷🏼♀️It is super awkward, actually. To be honest, it feels a little like you don’t see the value in what it is I do.
People mean well, but they just cannot conceive that creative work has the potential to yield massive financial abundance. I struggle what to say here to avoid sounding braggy. And it may come off more like a salty clap back, which maybe it kind of is.😬 But I am going to say it anyway.
I proudly share that my creative business is doing great! It more than justifies child care.
In fact, it pays myself a full time salary greater than anything I have ever earned in corporate, funds my retirement, contributes to our kids’ college accounts, pays taxes, and employs FOUR part-time contractors at the time of this writing. And I hope to bring on a couple more very soon!
Other people literally cannot understand beyond the paradigm of the way they support themselves (usually through a traditional nine to five, trading hours for money). And the starving artist stereotype is very pervasive.
Let me be clear: the amount of money you earn does not make you OR your art any less valuable or special. I simply wanted to address this because so many people cannot fathom the possibilities and reeeally misunderstand the potential for creative work to yield financial abundance.
I also want to acknowledge that many creative professionals provide practical support to their spouses and kids. Since we work those non traditional hours, a lot of times the practical tasks fall to us: shuffling kids, doctor’s appointments, errands, domestic tasks, etc.
This is an extremely valuable and important contribution to any family! I see you! I honor both your tangible and intangible gifts, as well as your presence.👊🏻
4. Relying on our creativity to support us can be…well, tricky
There is a flip side to that financial coin, y’all. Once you start making some money, and you and (especially) your family start to rely on that income, things can get…well, tricky.
This is a nuance that never much occurred to me until I stepped into a creative career. At corporate, you show up, and somebody gives you something to do. Sure, you may engage your creativity to solve problems, but this is much different than producing art for a living.
Producing art for a living literally is making something out of nothing. Taking something abstract and giving it life by bringing it into the physical reality.
Once you start to depend on your art to support you, there is suddenly pressure for you to continue earning. And hence, pressure to keep on creating “successful” content.
And here’s the sticking point: If there is one way to kill a creative vibe, it’s pressure. 😵Pressure to be creative, pressure for people to like what you create, pressure for them to buy it, etc. You’ve got to keep the train rolling, right?!
One of the solutions to this for me personally is to believe in creative abundance. I have learned to trust that I am very in tune with creative flow. There are plenty of great ideas, and I am totally capable of tapping into that. I know and trust it will continue.
If I am blocked creatively, it is like a dashboard light telling me that something is off in my life. This is such a gift, as well as a curse. That leads me to my next point. 👇🏻
5. We need self care and good boundaries
When I get blocked creatively, or if I am suddenly not enjoying my work, I know it is time to check myself. Something’s off. How do I know this? Because it is very hard to create from a place of stress, scarcity and chaos. 🤯
What a gift to be required to be so in tune with my own well-being! I love this nuance, and I know that might sound odd. Sometimes it does feel a little like a curse, especially if I have a hard time figuring out what’s wrong. But it has forced me to be in tune with and care for myself more than any other point in my life thus far.
Usually when I get blocked, for me personally it means I need to come out of my head and into the physical. Here are a few ways that manifests for me personally.
Exercise. I need it like I need to breathe. And I am not super athletic or anything, y’all.😂 But I need movement. I love walking outside or swimming. When I don’t move for too long, I get stagnant. And sunshine also helps me. Being outside, being in nature.
Sleep. I need it like I need to breathe. When I don’t sleep, my life feels intense and hard. These are facts. I am not a happy person when I don’t sleep well.
Spaciousness and down time are essential too, and I think this is true for all creatives. When life gets SO super busy and chaotic, there is no space in my being for new things to flow in. And that includes new ideas.
In addition, since work hours aren’t always static, I need really good boundaries around my time. I schedule blocks of time for tasks, but I also schedule down time. Time to think and process. Margins.
Also! We creative people tend to pick up on a lot of things others miss. Creatives are generally very in touch with the subtle, the abstract and the non physical things most people aren’t very conscious of: emotions, vibes, energies, gut feelings, etc. It is one of the things that makes us great at creating!
But it can also be a little draining. Spaciousness and margins are necessary.
6. We love other people’s art!
I absolutely LOVE how creative people support each other.💕 I get so inspired by taking in other people’s creations. I totally get creative crushes on other people’s art, especially music and the written word. 🥰
Some authors have the ability to move me to tears. Some music absolutely melts my heart or gives me big ol’ goosebumps all over.
I have music playing in the background at almost all times. I use it to set my own vibe. I use it to get into my own creative flow, to up my energy or calm myself down.
7. We may need to be creative outside our own professional life
Being involved in other creative things helps us align to that creative flow. I personally prefer things that have zero pressure and don’t require me to earn a living from them!💁🏼♀️
Playing the piano is one of those. Calling myself a mediocre piano player is probably generous.😜 But it brings me so much joy!
I also love to sing! Did you guys know I almost majored in vocal performance in college? I didn’t do it, though. The what if’s still get me sometimes.
My little eighteen year old heart and ego could no fathom living from a place of “pick me!” for the rest of my life. I now realize that was a very narrow, insecure and fear-based way to choose a career.😬 But I have no regrets! And mad props to those of you living that audition life. 👊🏻
I sing in my church choir now, and I am very content to be a small fish in that world. It brings me so much joy!
Reflecting back, I see now that singing is very tied to my figurative voice and sharing my ideas and thoughts with the world. I am a communicator, and I have so much I want to say. You all know I love food, but I am very much a writer at heart, first and foremost!
I have been writing pieces of this post in my head for weeks!😜 It’s like it won’t leave me alone until I hash it out and get it into the physical.
And I hear so many creatives say similar things about their own creations. They are almost like entities unto themselves, wanting to be born. And they will pester you until you let them out.
Case in point: Participating in no-pressure creative things can inspire and bring clarity to your own self and your own art! Plus, it can be really fun.
If you have read this far, God bless you!😜Despite my blathering on, I hope you enjoyed this little window into the life of being a professional creator. Share this with your favorite pro artist or creative!
And to my fellow creatives: never forget how powerful and important you are! Why? Creators literally shape our reality in real time.
In addition to making the actual physical structures we see and use every day, your telling of stories shapes our perception on a collective level. That process of creation is sacred and Divinely inspired, in my opinion. (👈🏻More on that later! This post is already too long!)
I see you! And I honor you! Big hugs and high fives.😘
Leave me a comment, and let me know what (if anything) resonated here. And by all means, keep on creating!😎👊🏻
Thanks for reading, and be sure and stay connected on social media!