A Note to The Creatives

How to be both Creative and a Normal Contributing Citizen of the world. 

How to be both Creative and a Normal Contributing Citizen of the world. 

(Changes: The Weekly Comfort Blog is now The Comfort Blog. I will spend more time on each article, aiming to post bi-monthly at minimum. Watch me!)

Let's change track a little.

Four months into my full-time Social Work job and my appetite for robust, intellectual conversation prowls around like a roaring lion. It seeks to devour anyone willing to reach the end of the conceptual rope with me.

Perhaps I'm just getting bored.

Give me a dirty political debate with an extreme right-wing Ayn Rand sympathiser over someone who'll agree with everything I say. My creative head needs challenging, and I haven't been nurturing that part of myself. 

Upon reflection I realise that God has built me to ponder the "deeper meaning of life" by default. Even when crunching almonds, or cutting haloumi slices, I am piecing together experiences and assessing how it all fits together. Call me a wannabe philosopher.

And while I am proud of the poetry I have written and performed, and of being taken semi seriously as a professional creative, thinking that deeply, at that constant rate and speed causes most people anxiety, so I need to be careful.

Our thinking needs limits sometimes. I don't think any human being was built for laborious, unceasing brain-critiques. There must be balance.  

Roll your eyes if you will, but I am a "tortured artist", at the whim of euphoric idea-sewing because its blissful state equates to snorting two lines of cocaine. (Not that I would know, of course).

And within the cocoon of the creative process, I get into this "mindfulness & bliss" (M&B) state. As a musician plays around with several chords, phrasing his lyrics in myriad ways to ensure they fit, he loses himself in the moment, completely focused on crafting the perfect piece to represent emotions that will cut through space and time. Emotions marking how significant his last break up was, and realising that perhaps his behaviour stemmed from undisclosed childhood traumas manifesting into more acceptable versions of uncertainty.

Such masterpiece songs will relate to 92% of the male population, touching their lives in some way. But sorry fellow Creatives - we can't stay in that place.

My point is that I'm fighting for my balance and my focus. While I have nowhere near mastered it, I want to start the conversation on how to arrive at the M&B state faster and more efficiently. We owe it to the world as our service to her.

I've grown up and learned that life comes with beautiful obligations. So stretch out your arms and break the cocoon. Responsibilities need to be met, not by your parents or your older sister, but by you. After attempting full-time Creative Professionalism for 6 months, I was tired of feeling dependent on others, no matter how much they believed in me and supported me. 

It's not enough to have sufficient means for yourself. Fill out your adult shoes.

I wanted my family to know that while I was grateful for their back-up of my creative dreams, it was time they could practically depend on me.

THE REALITY

Beauty from mediocrity.

Beauty from mediocrity.

Creatives, allow me to burst your Generation Y Super-Idealistic-But-I-Still-Encourage-You-to-Follow-Your-God-Dreams Bubble:

  • Life won't always be amazing. It's how you choose to see things daily, creating beauty from mediocrity.
  • Dreams require plans, and plans require commitment, and commitment requires showing up to work everyday, and showing up to work everyday isn't always leisurely and sexy.
  • A successful cafe owner once told me that the real "world changers" are those who amass the most resources and connections and use these wisely.
  • Living the dream is highly overrated. Every type of success comes with its own unique set of problems.
  • Take it from the Stoics, and face the reality that there is bound to be difficulty, but you will choose to accept it, be ok with it, and become wiser from the experience. (Ok, so I put in some Viktor Frankl at the end).

After being in serious debt, I now work a full-time career job I love, drive a company car, and salary package my major life expenses. I love being practical. It's reduced my stress levels massively. I have also found financial literacy as the key to freedom in choosing a meaningful, purposeful job while pursuing the greater goals.

THE CHALLENGE

Balance, baby! For the greater vision.

Balance, baby! For the greater vision.

Most of us know what we want, at least subconsciously.

I'm all about those American straight-talking bloggers with potty mouths, so read this Mark Manson article for entertainment value if not for a slap in the face. Seriously now, what are the God-size dreams in your heart? Viktor Frankl states in Man's Search for Meaning that

“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

My art is that for me. I want to be the kind of Orator whom weaves stories from the secret places. My characters will be too real and relatable. A publishing deal and a call from a film company would be amazing, but mere by-products of my attempt at perfecting narrative therapy read in the bedrooms of the broken and soul-searching.

As a Writer and a Poet, "You can't rush art" turned into "Improve your strategy, figure out how to manage your energy". So, no more 11pm-3am writing sessions...

THE STRATEGY

Processes, techniques and getting back into the creative head-space while managing your beautiful obligations.

Processes, techniques and getting back into the creative head-space while managing your beautiful obligations.

As of late, I've ignored the needs of my Creative identity. I saw her as the embarrassing alter-ego whose heart drips blood all over a World Vision campaign and gives nasty people something to talk about at the after party.

Alas, I truly believe we can be both. We can have our head in the clouds with our feet on the ground.

We can make money in a day job that is purposeful and fuels our research into profound truths we believe humanity should know. And then we smarten up about managing our energy, catching habits that perpetuate our flow, feeding ourselves with concrete facts that better our knowledge and hope for the world - like science, philosophy and history. 

I still haven't found my perfect balance, but I wanted to list a few exercises that I've recently found helpful. Hope you like them. Please list anything you've found helpful too in the comments.

STRATEGIES TO HELP YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS

  • Schedule 1 hour each morning to write. Plan your work outfit the night before, set your alarm for 6am, have breakfast prepared. Remove thinking from your routines so your head can fully focus on your new ideas.
Preparation is key, baby!!

Preparation is key, baby!!

  • Schedule weekly self-care strategies. Your art is a result of what you feed yourself.

This is what I'm currently aiming for:

  • BODY: 
    • Gym 3x mornings per week.
    • 5x lunch preparation boxes with organic ingredients from the markets on Sundays.
    • Fortnightly massages.
  • MIND: 
    • Entertainment/escape media, like a really well-written TV series to unwind with. Your mind needs rest from a hard day's work, but if your day job leaves you hungry for intellectual fodder outside of work hours, then dive headfirst into...
    • Educational media, like a documentary, non-fiction book or challenging novel. As I drive to and from work I bluetooth Audible books that cost me $15/monthly.
    • Chat and network with Creatives about their current projects. Do I get jealous? Of course! But I force myself to push through those emotions into the greater goal of writing my own masterpiece, and use those conversations as idea hacks for figuring out what works best for me after hearing about their processes.
    • Volunteer for creative events, like Word Travels's Story Fest or helping to run Poetry Slams. The creative atmosphere will fuel your artist self.
  • SOUL: 
    • Journal 2-3x per week, doing a mixture of streams of consciousness exercises and...
    • Writing out Holy Spirit truths against your list of what you think of yourself that day. I cannot and do not want to create without the Holy Spirit, for my art is fuelled by the desire to get to the end of myself. And the end of myself is where God is.
    • Carve out time to be in natural terrains. There is a whole world out there God created for our enjoyment and His glory. The Coogee to Bondi walk is free and absolutely worth the 3 hours of your weekend!
    • Spend time with people who make you feel strong, loved and secure onto the route of reaching your potential.

Recently I volunteered for the Word Travels' Australian Poetry Slam competition at the Sydney Opera House. After meeting so many passionate, quirky creatives my inspiration bled into my Instagram feed. Check it out please? ;-)

Jessi has broken many blog promises. She is very sorry. Please forgive her by liking and commenting below!?

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