This summer was happily more feast than famine when it came to work. I kept busy writing website content, blog and social media posts, newsletters and even wrapped up a speech for a new client. I now have two communications/web design firms that reach out to me when they need content written for their client’s websites. That led to projects writing copy about restaurants, portable storage solutions and stone countertops.
I kicked off September with a big annual report writing project, and I’m about to dive into some advertising copy writing and the management of a photo shoot in the next few weeks. I’m also hoping to find some time to finish one book and then start another. Both books explore different facets of the creative life.
I’ve just about finished The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry. It’s been both eye-opening and affirming. One of the struggles with creative work is you never know if the ideas are going to keep flowing. You don’t know where your creativity comes from in the first place, so you can’t presume you’ll always be able to tap into it. Todd’s book suggests that the creative process can be influenced by our actions. Todd explains, “You need to incorporate practices that instill a sense of structure, rhythm, and purpose into your life. You need to create space for your creative process to thrive rather than expecting it to operate in the cracks of your frenetic schedule.”
The book has made me change the way I schedule my days. It’s also made me focus on allotting time for things that help fuel the creative process – whether it’s taking 20 minutes to watch a relevant TED talk, getting out of the house to chat about work challenges with others in the industry, or finding an outlet for unnecessary creating.
If you work in a creative field, I highly recommend it. Todd’s website also has a ton of great articles that echo the themes in his book.
As soon as I wrap up The Accidental Creative, I’m going to waste no time in cracking open Dani Shapiro’s new book, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life. I heard an interview with Dani on Debbie Millman’s influential podcast called Design Matters. Even the story about how she came up with the title hit home for me. Dani has written several bestselling books (she’s even been on Oprah), but that doesn’t stop acquaintances at dinner parties from asking, “Are you still writing?” It’s not a question people with traditional jobs are often – if ever – asked. “Are you still practicing law? Are you still an accountant?” Lawyers and accountants don’t get asked questions like that.
I haven’t been asked that exact question, but, even having shared some of my writing successes, well-meaning people still send me job postings they think I’d be interested in. They seem to think of my situation as unemployed instead of self-employed. Sometimes I just thank them, but other times I’ll stop and explain that, while I can probably take on a project as a subcontractor, I’m not looking for employment. It doesn’t really bother me, but I find it interesting and wonder if there’s something I need to say or do differently in my professional life to make the distinction to others. There are many more pleasures than perils in my creative life, and I’m excited to see if they parallel Dani’s experiences.