Many of the conversations that I’m having with the creative folx in my community lately have been around how to make being a writer and/or artist work. How to make it work financially, creatively, spiritually, and emotionally. How to work within the capitalist machine while also setting solid boundaries around the importance of doing creative work for creative work’s sake.
We’ve been talking about how to get paid for our creative work. How to take the edge off the low-key or full-blown financial stress that we’re all feeling in one way or another. How to be of service to the art community in a way that’s mutually and financially beneficial. How to sustain the creative spaces that sustain us.
There’s a sense of urgency to these conversations, as there needs to be. At the same time, I’ve also been planting the seed that we also need to be thinking more long-term about the work we feel called to do. Of course, there are deadlines and other reasons to try to do everything now. However, if this is our life’s work, then we must approach it accordingly.
We need to shift what we’re checking for time-wise as far as whether or not something is working. While there’s no doubt that financial pitfalls, creative challenges, emotional upheaval, and spiritual crises need to be responded to, they don’t need to be interpreted as signs that things aren’t working.
When we think long-term about the lives we’re building as creatives, we give ourselves permission to expand our perspective on what’s happening in the moment. We can find more space to breathe and recover from whatever tragedy has befallen us in a way that’s more empathetic and—hopefully—less stressful.
The point of walking the path of a writer and/or artist is not to get everything right on the first try or even the hundredth. It’s not to never waste a single dollar or never make a single mistake. The point of walking the path of a writer and/or artist is to figure out how to make it work. As a calling, as a lifestyle, as a career, and as whatever else you need it to be.
It’s going to take time for you to figure out how to do that. It’s going to take time to figure out who your allies and who your enemies are. It’s going to take time to figure out how to monetize your work or weave in other paid work so that you keep getting to make your art. It’s going to take time and thinking long-term to get to a place where you can move with greater ease through your process of becoming the writer and/or artist you’re longing to be.
So, if you pause for a moment, take a few deep breaths, and call to mind the challenge that you’re currently facing in your creative practice, what shifts for you when you let yourself think long-term about working through that challenge?