I wanted to be a journalist from the age of seven. I had a desire to know what was happening around me, drove my parents mad with endless questions and spent hours writing at the desk in my room.
Journalism seemed like a good fit for an inquisitive, creative type like me (and it was), but it wasn’t plain sailing to realise that dream. My first job out of university was working for the Department of Social Security. I sat the public service exam on my mother’s advice because it meant I could always fall back on something there if I didn’t find the job I wanted. And of course that’s what happened.
Money doesn’t equal happiness
I stuck that admin-heavy job out for 11 months before I was offered my dream job of a journalism cadetship. Even though I was halving my salary I didn’t hesitate to take the cadetship because it made my heart sing. I put my need for creativity ahead of my need for more money. And it’s something I have done ever since.
So why the trip down memory lane? Seth Godin’s post When creativity becomes a profession… made me think about what happens when creative types like me build businesses around doing something we love. As Seth says in his post, “It often stops being creative”. I’ve written about creativity in business before with colouring in and creative writing; but this post isn’t about how to do things creatively. It’s about embracing your creativity.
Be brave and trust your instincts
People get scared when the right opportunities don’t present themselves and they start questioning what they’re doing, or taking on projects that aren’t quite the right fit but the money sounds good. Trust me, it’s never good enough. I’m speaking from experience.
I watched friends write novels in the genres that are selling right now, not the stories that have been percolating away in their heads for years. There’s been artists who subvert their own ideas about art to paint the works that sell by the truckload or photographers who take mass production baby photos in shopping centres all day, every day, when really they want to take portraits that tell a story of their subject’s soul. I’ve seen others working their lives away in jobs that pay the bills but don’t fulfil them. The money is good but it’s never enough to make up for what is missing when you deny part of yourself.
Raise your creativity up, don’t suppress it
Every time we do something for money without passion we are stifling that creative voice inside and making it softer and softer. We hear so much about meeting customers and clients where they are with marketing, or writing copy in the language they use, which are both sensible business tactics, but what about all the things that make our own hearts sing? Yes you need to meet the needs of your customer (we wouldn’t have businesses if we didn’t); however there should be space to meet your own needs too. Indulge that creative streak every once in a while and see what happens as a result.
As Maya Angelou said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have”. But if you don’t use it at all, what won’t you have?
Sometimes it’s OK to slow down, set your mind to dream and just see what happens. You never know what you might create.