As artists, creative humans, and business owners, we’re always threading the needle of things that are both fulfilling and financially profitable. In my opinion, embarking upon a creative career at all is an immense act of faith. Faith that humanity is not on the brink of an apocalypse, because let’s face it: when the zombies start to attack and we’re all fighting over clean water, no one will be willing to pay me to do things like voice video game characters, read audiobooks, direct a youth version of Mary Poppins Jr, or write their weekly newsletter. I know that what I do for a living is not something intrinsically necessary for human survival, and because of this, I understand that every day I get paid to work as a creative professional is a gift and I cannot afford (literally or figuratively) to take it for granted.
I admit that if you look at my work history for the past decade or so, you might wrongly interpret my career thus far as someone who can’t make up their mind what they actually do. To an outside eye, I may appear a bit all over the place like some sort of creative schizophrenic, unable to “commit” to anything for a long period of time. And while I see how you could come to that conclusion, I feel I need to fight back and explain why I have chosen to intentionally engage in a variety of creative pursuits, instead of picking one thing and devoting my life to it.
It’s true, I currently work as a professional voice-over artist, copywriter, yoga instructor, teacher, coach, actor, playwright, and director – which is a ridiculous mouthful. (That’s why I usually just say I’m a storyteller and leave it at that.) In the past, I’ve worked as a theatre camp counselor, choreographer, voice teacher, barista, tutor, and waitress. Other things that are true: I love absurd comedy, knitting, embroidery, murder mystery novels, TV shows, hiking, travel, Star Trek, Star Wars and Lady Gaga.
My point is this – we are all MORE than just our jobs. If you are a creative person with one job and that works for you, then more power to you. I’m not here to tell you to quit your stable job with health insurance and dive into the unknown by any means.
But I DO I encourage you to look for other ways to diversify your creative outlets.
When I’m writing a play and don’t know what comes next, I’ll go on a hike or pick up my knitting needles. I believe it’s essential to both cultivate and indulge our diverse interests on a regular basis.
A moving target is harder to hit.
I’m not sure where I first heard this advice, but I’ve clung to it like a mantra throughout my career, weaving and bobbing from project to project, dodging the ever-feared enemy known as burnout, or worse – Creative Block.
People in the educational world wonder why I don’t teach full time, is it because I can’t find a full-time position? Those in the copywriting and voice-over world wonder if I teach because it’s hard to make ends meet as a copywriter or voice-over artist. The truth is, I do it all because I love it all for different reasons. I love teaching. I love arts education and believe it’s an essential tool to share with the next generation. I also love creating, acting, writing and telling stories. So instead of feeling like I had to pick any ONE thing, I decided to actively pursue a career as a “Jackie-of-all-Trades”.
Some of you may remember this little ditty, “Jack of all trades and master of none” …and yet, that’s only half of the old rhyme.
Here’s the whole thing:
Jack of all trades and master of none, is oftentimes better than master of one.
Here’s how I see it: Having variety in your career is a blessing, not a cursed juggling act, especially as a creative. Because I work as a writer, teacher, and voice-over artist, I’m not just working on one project at any time. If I get a little stuck on something, I have another project to turn to while my mind works on the first one in the background. For example, while writing this blog post I took breaks to narrate an audiobook. When my voice is tired from narrating for a couple of hours, I can make a cup of yummy tea with honey, pull on fuzzy socks and start some research for a client’s blog post due next week. Having that variety gives me MORE creative freedom.
If you imagine “Creative Block” (with a capital C and a capital B) as an evil monster lurking in the shadows ready to inundate you with self-deprecating thoughts telling you you’re not good enough, imagine also Creative Diversity (again with the capitals) in the other corner, with her twinkle lights, inviting you to try something new instead of worrying about the fact that you’re not sure what to draw/paint/write/film/whatever next.
Instead of living in fear of an impending apocalypse and allowing Creative Block to paralyze me, I choose the sunny path of gratitude with my pal Creative Diversity. I will tell stories for as long as I can and help others to do the same.
Where can Creative Diversity be of use to you? Is there a project you’re blocked on or not sure where to turn next? Don’t be an easy target for Creative Block – get up, get moving and get those juices flowing. You may be surprised by what you discover.