Iceland photo by Mary C Kehoe

The Unmapped Life of a Creative

The hardest part of living life as a Creative in any form is that it’s not just taking the road less traveled it’s stepping off the road all together.

Go read as many interviews with authors, screenwriters, artists, graphic designers, and the rest, that you can find and I can guarantee that no two “origin stories” will be the same. Everyone finds there own way to success in creative fields and many of them start out by telling you “this is not the way you’re supposed to do it.”

There are no common roadmarks for us to follow, no clear A to B to C. I have friends outside of the creative sphere whose steps toward their dream jobs are far more concrete, you start here and climb the  corporate ladder. The beginnning of this path looks a lot better on the outside than the beginning of my own. First off they get paid for working in their field.

Our beginning step is creating a platform and garnering an audience. Do you get paid for it? No. Is it a sure first step to success? No. Has every published author and successful artist started that way? No.

There are hundreds of how to lists out there claiming to tell you the just how to get your book published, three easy steps of marketing yourself, five must do action steps to build your audience, or my favorite – 10 points that will make your book a best seller. I’m no historian, but I’m pretty damn sure JRR Tolkien never followed any 1o point system in creating his world.

Are there things to learn from these lists? Sometimes, but no list is going to secure your place among the working Creatives. Yes, there are steps to take that will strengthen your chances but it all comes down to the quality of your work and how well you collaborate.

So lay what groundwork you can (blog, podcast, newsletter, etc) work continually on bettering your craft, and network (not by seeking out what people can do for you but by figuring out what you can do for them) and you might just make it. It’s not really the most infallible battle plan I’ve ever followed, the alternative however makes me feel claustrophobic.

I’ve wished sometimes that I could be happy with a 9 to 5 with upward mobility. Can you imagine how relaxing that would be, to have weekends and evenings off and stability from one year to the next? But the truth is just thinking about it gives me a tightness in my chest and a vision of my days stretching out before me, trapping me in an unending chain. Besides in these economic times, few jobs can boast complete stability. So, for those of us whose souls need an occupation that feeds our creativity and need for something deeper, it’s worth it to duck beneath that chain and step out onto uncharted ground.

In the words of CS Lewis it’s time¬†we went “further in and farther up.”

May the Fates smile upon us and fortune truly favor the bold.

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