In college, my English professor saw something in my writing. So much so that she encouraged me to minor in it. I had chosen business as my major because of its practicality. Even a minor in writing sounded futile. My young self questioned the kinds of good jobs available to writers. I eventually retreated on that opinion a little, choosing to study writing, but also publishing, in grad school. At least with publishing thrown in, I’d be better positioned for a job.
Full-time writer was not a reality I could imagine. Dream about, sure, but rather fantastically. What I’ve come to realize is that I’ve never been a full-time writer. Even after spending several years working for myself, I never just wrote. Oh no. I taught as one of our highly valued adjunct professors. I took on clients. Started a consulting practice. I spoke. I wrote on the side of my side gigs. But mostly, I hustled.
Despite popular thought: Hustling is not creating. Hustling is hustling.
I wasn’t alone. My fellow creators and media makers, from journalists to filmmakers, were also battling this multi-headed animal. Our reality prompted me to start the create daily, a service to help creators create consistently by connecting them with high value opportunities for projects and gigs for money.
Here’s the thing: most creators just want to create. But it’s hard as hell to be a full-time creator. It’s hard as hell to create daily. Shoot, it’s hard as hell to create consistently.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of reasons:
They don’t want you to create daily
I personally haven’t had to deal with any DJ Khaled-level haters. Mine have been the flat-out confused. You know, folk who just “don’t get” creatives and label us accordingly as weird / unstable / fill-in-the-blank. Unfortunately, some of these people are family and friends. Even more unfortunate, we may care what these people think. That caring messes with our heads.
Support gotta be macro and micro
And by support, I mean all types. Emotional support is probably just as important as financial. And institutional support. And policy-driven support.
Life, life, life, life, life
Since we’re talking about money, mortgages also make it hard as hell to create daily. So do bills and those sinister student loans. In order to fulfill these obligations, you have to be able to make a living from creating, which is hard as hell. Or you gotta have a J-O-B or several, which tends to cut down on the available time, capacity, and space to create. The best intentions or most coveted MFA degree can’t compete with life.
Creating requires dough
Yes, these days we can make films on our phones and release novels on our blog. Trust, I’m all about DIY and creating your own opportunity. But let’s not fool or undervalue ourselves. Creating cost money. Ask Kickstarter.
High risk, low returns
Being a full-time creator means you’re not creating as a hobby, but rather a career. And this means that you’re attached to some industry — media, film, publishing, etc. And these industries tend to have different agendas, expectations, and ideals, many of which conflict with creative processes and outputs. And sometimes the pay for a creator’s work or services is inconsistently appropriate and often takes too damn long. Then there’s this: Creating is one thing, but marketing and distribution, getting people to consume it, is another. Creators can create for themselves, sure, but this is not financially sustainable.
Fear is a one mickie fickie
Creating stuff and releasing it to the big, bad world is not for the lighthearted. And that was before the internet and comment sections. Fear can manifest itself in all types of ways: perfectionism, procrastination, self-sabotage and self-doubt. It ain’t easy to create under these conditions. At one point, while writing one of my books, I had a moment where I questioned my ability to write a book in the first place. That moment lasted several weeks against a looming deadline. Creative paralysis.
Failure has made quite the comeback or maybe it just has a good PR person. The failure I know is painful and debilitating. Even if there are lessons learned, it can be devastating for creatives with emotional connections to their work. And if failure equates to disappointing sales, the consequences can impact your livelihood.
It’s all connected.
Yet, all of these forces aside, for many creators, not creating just isn’t an option. So they make it work. And I’m committed to helping us do just that.
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