You can’t put a price on creativity.

Lately I’ve been feeling like I need to get back to writing. (For those of you who know me, I can actually feel your eyes rolling; I get it, I write a lot, but hear me out.)

What I mean is: I need to get back to my own writing.

When you work a creative profession and you’re offering your creativity to others, you start to put a price on hobbies that were once important. For instance, I can be creative for myself for free or I can be creative for someone else and make a more secure living. My blog posting in particular suffered during the November to March season for this very reason, which is too bad, since it was something that incentivized writing for myself on a regular basis.

Creative negotiation is fairly common. Full-time freelancers, in particular, face this choice all the time. Turning down projects because you’re feeling “especially creative” feels hollow during lighter-project seasons.

I don’t want to downplay the work I or other creative professionals do. I can’t speak on behalf of everyone, but I love sharing my creativity with others – it’s why I work in marketing and also why I started Smart EDits. These are professions that both nurture and satisfy my creative skills.

The creative negotiation is more nuanced than simply “feeling bad” about neglecting your personal projects; it’s more like the difference between making a meal for someone you love and making a meal for yourself. You might labour over the ingredients, recipe, plating, and all the other things that make a meal great if it’s for someone you care about, but when it comes to making yourself lunch for work or dinner after a busy day, you might hold back. It’s that holding back on yourself and your own potential that feeds the guilt and skewed sense of self-worth.

So, I’m going to try a writing exercise I did before things got busy. Every day that I provide creative work for someone else, I’m going to dedicate 10 to 15 minutes of that day to my own writing or other projects. We’ll see how it goes.

– E.D.

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