Life As A Creative
It’s 1148 p.m. on a Tuesday night and I should be in bed with the lights out by the time the clock strikes 12. Lord knows I need a good 7-8 hours of sleep so I can function in the morning and be in a decent mood, mentally and physically ready to put in a full day’s work at my day job. But as is the case like most nights around this time my mind is all over the place. At this very moment, I know that if I don’t get all of these thoughts out of my head and on to this google doc my brain won’t let me sleep. I’d be lying half-dead, my body still but my brain very much alive thinking about all the things I should have done before calling it a night.
There have been many days like today.
Whether I’m at home or work, lost in thought reading, writing, drawing, planning, or stuck in some sort of analysis paralysis trance, I can’t shut my mind off. There is always some new idea popping up out of nowhere that takes precedence over anything else at the moment. And unless I get these ideas out I feel incomplete. It’s weird. It’s like there’s a void in my life that can only be filled when I allow my imagination to flow and spill onto the page.
This is life as a creative.
Our minds are always on. We always feel the need to be doing something. While we’re at a local dive with friends after work on a Thursday or a backyard bbq with the fam on a Saturday, all we think about is the things we want to create. All the projects we have in the works that just require a few more tweaks before we release it to the world. You can often catch us lost in thought in a crowded restaurant, jotting down random brainstorms on a napkin, or keeping notes on our phone.
It’s a rush when the inspiration wave hits us. It always feels like we are one idea away from something great, something magical we can share with the world, just for the world to ignore it or say it’s not good enough. This leads us right back to the drawing board to try again.
As creatives, we are never satisfied until we have released our project into the universe and share our gift in the hopes that at least one person out of the 8 billion in the stratosphere will connect with our piece and recognize its significance.
Then we’re back to creating again.
It’s a vicious but fulfilling cycle that leads us with a sense of purpose and self-realization that comes when you create something you are passionate about in the hopes that it will bring value and enjoyment to not only yourself but others as well.
But what makes you a Creative? Is it the business cards? Or your degree from some university in liberal arts? Truth be told creative careers are not something that is pushed in our society. Our parents, friends, and teachers grant us permission to dream and be creative as kids, telling us to be painters, musicians, filmmakers, and dancers, but as adults, these paths are frowned upon and brainwashed out of us, replaced with more dependable and “realistic” careers such as accountants, dental assistants, and government jobs with good pensions.
Many creatives I know, including myself, hold down one or two of these “good jobs” in order to fund our creative endeavors. This helps us to maintain a roof over our heads while we pursue our passion and go after our dreams. However, it can be draining to show up every day to a job that brings us no fulfillment besides a paycheck every two weeks. We stay motivated by realizing that this 9 to 5 provides us with the means to invest in our work. In many cases, this is the only thing keeping our creative spirits alive while sitting behind a desk doing the same redundant task over and over again for 50 hours a week. But without money to back us, where would our dreams be?
As a creative, we can’t afford not to create, spiritually or financially. The only way to set ourselves free from the trap of a 9 to 5 is to create, build a community, and provide value to our supporters in the form of a product or service that will hopefully provide us with enough of a profit to justify leaving the corporate world behind. It’s a huge risk but it’s a risk that I myself don’t mind taking.
After all, what’s the alternative? To sit inside a cubicle staring at a computer screen as it glares back at us for the next 30 years, stuck on the same routine as everyone else? Come to work at the same time, go to lunch at the same time, do the same work all day long at the same time, go home at the same time, then rinse and repeat. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t feel like much of a life to me. Besides, I put my dreams on hold for the first 15 years of my adult life and I refuse to do it again.
Creating keeps me going. It makes me realize that I am alive and that I am not just another robot trapped in an algorithm-based system where quantity matters more than quality and production more than originality. As Creatives, we are not just artists, we are also self-made entrepreneurs. We are not only responsible for making art, but also the marketing and distribution of said art to the masses. We are wearers of many hats but truth be told we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Learning and mastering each of these steps is bringing us one step closer to controlling our own destiny. Isn’t that what we really wanted in the first place? To create a world we want to live in and not have to succumb to the world that has been created for us without our input.
Deep down creatives hate to be told what to do and how to do it. We crave freedom and innovation. We yearn to be a part of the creative process and not just another cog in the wheel. This is why it’s so difficult for us to operate in a society that has been pre-designed for us to just plug into the system. Creatives are the misfits and rebels of the world. No matter how hard we try to fit in our gift makes sure we stand out.
With the help of social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, as well as sites like Wix and Square providing us with free to low-cost options to build our own websites, never has it been easier for us to share our passions, services, and products with like-minded individuals.
If you are someone like me who has wasted years of their lives trying to fit into a system that you never truly do no matter how hard you try and that voice in the back of your mind is getting louder and louder telling you to go after your dreams, now is the time. You are draining yourself for a job that, if you died on Wednesday, would have another person sitting at your desk by Friday.
So, pay attention to that voice; that’s inspiration calling, your creative spirit talking.
I’m not saying quit your job today. However, instead of just working and going home to Netflix and chill on the couch after work, use 3-4 hours a night to create and invest in mastering your craft, build an online presence, and connect with your fellow creatives. If you do this, you will gradually build your new career while you are using your current one to fund your passion.
Take it from me, life is not easy as a creative. There are lonely nights. Nights when I am filled with doubt and I feel like giving up. Nights when I doubt myself and feel like no one understands me. Nights when I’m broke because all my money went to rent and bills with little to nothing left over to invest in my vision. But this is the price we pay for being courageous enough to go after a dream.
This is the life of a creative.
But we have to be real with ourselves. Would we rather live the rest of our lives wishing we had or would we rather be someone who took a risk to go after our dreams?
Only we can decide for ourselves. Choose wisely.
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