Success as a Working Creative

creative-professionalWriters. Artists. Actors. Self-employed entrepreneurs who create creative products, or have a hand in creating creative products, for a fickle public. Independent working creatives all have dreams of self-sufficiency, but many work day jobs or freelance to support themselves while pursing these goals.

It’s not easy to be a professional creative.

And some of us operate without a safety net at all, busking or scraping by however we can without a back up plan. We end up working 60-80 hour weeks trying to build a career without anything to show for it, reminding ourselves that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

A living wage can seem like a far off dream.

For many the finish line is to be able to support ourselves entirely through our creative output. To be self-sufficient. To earn from the sweat of our creative endeavors enough money to pay the rent, to pay the bills, to eat, to live.

It takes time to build your brand, your career, your platform. To make the networking connections necessary to even practice your chosen career. If you’re an actor or someone else whose creative output depends heavily on other people, you don’t even have control over whether or not you’re even able to provide a product, not without help. Not without the support and faith of other people.

For writers and artists, it takes time to build a fanbase, a following. To be discovered. To become known. And all we can do in the meantime is keep working.

That elusive goal of having “made it” can seem so far away, and it can seem that – despite what talent or skill we might possess – no one values our work.

Society doesn’t always seem to value creative work.

Some people don’t. Some people don’t see the effort put into creative pursuits as “real” work. Some people think that the stress and sweat and fear and hopes and dreams of an artist or writer are just idle hobbies not deserving of fair compensation.

These attitudes are painfully obvious for freelancers who are offered gigs without pay other than the idle promise of “exposure.”

Sometimes our aspirations aren’t taken as seriously by our friends and loved ones, who want to know when we’ll be getting a “real job.”

Art is undervalued.

There is no such thing as failure.

But cheer up. Don’t get discouraged. “Made it” might be a long ways away, but until you get there, you’re “working on it.” That’s all there is. “Made it” and “On your way.”

And “quitting.” You can quit. You can give up. That’s your prerogative, that’s your choice, but there’s no failure. You can always keep striving. You can always keep trying.

Don’t quit.

Don’t give up.

You’ll get there, eventually, wherever your ‘there’ is, whatever your goal is. Run that marathon.

About Michael Coorlim

Michael Coorlim is an author and producer for the Chicago film production company Burning Brigid.

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  1. Pingback: Guest post on Burning Brigid Media - Michael Coorlim

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