Why in 2022 I am taking the approach of having an affair with creativity, rather than treating writing and publishing as my day job.
G’day, and Happy New Year!
I hope you had a wonderful festive season and New Year’s.
Mine was pretty relaxed on the public holidays. Otherwise, I was busy, as my husband and I worked over the Christmas to New Year’s period.
And let me tell you, my work was physically demanding.
In December, I started work as a cook at a childcare centre. It’s pretty much as physically demanding, with all the lifting, as when I picked fruit to cover university expenses twenty years ago!
Physical work over the festive season mightn’t sound like much fun, but it was one of the most helpful things for me in 2021. And it has really changed my perspective on my writing and publishing pursuits.
Why I need a day job to support my creative pursuits
There are a lot of misconceptions about publishing, with one of those being that someone must be successful if they have published.
The thing is, most authors make next to no money on the sale of their books. Plus, much of what they make simply covers upfront expenses such as courses, editing, manuscript assessments, agent fees, cover design, publishing (if self-publishing), promotional materials and events.
I knew all this, having published Joyful Eating in 2019. I knew that I needed to have work that covered the bills and allowed my creativity to flourish without the constraint of supporting me financially.
However, due to Covid, I could not return to one of my regular part-time jobs after we went into lockdown in August 2021. Face masks are still a requirement, and providing foods to taste in supermarkets has not been possible. So, since August, my income has halved.
Going hard doesn’t guarantee success with creative pursuits
My response, and the suggestion by my publisher, was to go all-in promoting my book to set myself up for future success.
However, as I said earlier, publishing is not a very lucrative business for most. And placing all my hopes on my book succeeding and meeting the income shortfall put me under immense pressure. It is especially dumb in publishing because even if you make decent money, pay-outs can be months away. I probably won’t see money until June or July, and there is going to be a lot of meals between now and then!
Furthermore, publishing is unlike studying or working hard in a job. Hard work doesn’t necessarily get rewarded—the success of our books is largely out of our control.
So, essentially towards the end of 2021, I forgot what Elizabeth Gilbert suggests in her inspiring book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear: to keep your creative pursuits as your vocation, not your career. Essentially, not to ask anything of it. And not to give up your day job.
I hadn’t given up my day job, it is just temporarily not possible, and there is an unknown time if and when it will restart. But once I realised how much strain this was putting on me, I decided to get a temporary job—a five-month maternity cover position as a cook in a childcare centre.
Have an affair with creativity
Almost instantly, despite the work being physically demanding, I felt a shift in my mindset towards my writing and sharing my work.
I had less time to worry about how my work would be received. Less time to wait for a response or reply. I had less time to create, so I relished the moments I could.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic, to stay sane, to keep enjoying the creative process and sharing my work, it was much healthier and joyful for me to support my creativity than to ask my creativity to support me.
So, rather than asking creativity to pay the bills, I am now going to treat it more lightly and playfully. I won’t ask it to pay the bills; I will simply ask it to play with me.
In 2022 I am taking the approach of having an affair with creativity, relishing the fleeting moments we have together and not asking for anything in return.
Want to embrace your creativity in 2022?
If you resonate with anything I’ve said or would like to explore these concepts further, I encourage you to grab yourself a copy of Big Magic or read some of my other blogs on the topic.
Let’s see what we can create this year, shall we?