If you’re a creative soul, then you know that the joy of making art often comes with some anxiety-filled dry spells. Luckily there are as many ways of combating creativity blocks as there are people who combat them. Some of these cures are quick fixes, while others are daily rituals. But if you’re looking for a more permanent solution, it may actually help to get a second job.
Numerous studies have linked having a creative hobby with lower levels of stress, better performance at work and generally more joy in life. This is true not just for hobbies, but for side ventures as well. Many companies, such as LinkedIn and Microsoft, allot time for employees to work on passion projects. What I’ve discovered is that the benefits are even greater when that side project is actually a separate, creative, moneymaking career.
Before I even started college, I was already a full-time florist. Even after working for more than a decade on my writing career (years of writing classes, freelance gigs and magazine jobs), I have never steered far away from my first creative love. I help out a friend in her shop and teach bouquet-making classes at night, and though I still think of myself as a writer first, I now see that I need both careers if I want to keep my sanity.
Where writing feels like a quest for the Holy Grail, arranging spring stems in a vase feels like a walk in the park. When I stare at a blank page, I sometimes question my talent and my self-worth — something that never happens to me when I’m designing a bouquet. When I write, I occasionally feel like I might actually die. When I arrange fragrant hyacinths and velvety tulips, I feel reborn. Being a florist both gives me a rest from the pressures of writing and recharges me with creative insights, bursts of color and metaphor that I need to keep my writing fresh.
A secondary creative career has all the components of a primary one, but with a lot less at stake. There is still accountability to clients and coworkers, discipline and schedules to stick to. Unlike with a hobby, you are still in a professional mindset, churning out creative ideas with the same rhythm. And unlike with a hobby, you receive validation of your professional worth and a salary. That last bit is important, since so many artists experience guilt when they take a break from their work.
Making a living as an artist can be scary and unpredictable — just look at the volumes of books dedicated to the subject or read the desperate journals of your favorite artists when they hit a creative wall. Those moments of uncertainty are inevitable, but they are so much easier to get through knowing that you can still create and make a living while you wait out the dry spell.
Do you balance two creative careers? Tell us all about it in the comment below.