I Want to Do the Creative Part, not the “Work Part”.

There is a phrase that I hear, repeatedly from creatively minded individuals and artists. It is this: “I want to do the creative work, not the other stuff, the boring stuff”.

Remember there are 2 sides to a coin.

The boring stuff, that tedium that nearly every artist dreads, is the administrative-type work. When one commits to a life as an independent artist, when they have made the choice that they are going to be responsible for their creativity and will take greater control over their creative lives and consequentially, destinies, they will, inevitably, have to assume a large amount of undesirable responsibility. That is simply “as it is”.

Every artist loves to create. That is where they feel most alive and at home. Creativity means to “make” or to “manifest or bring about”. As these artists are in the process of their creativity, they feel bliss. Though we lose this word in our adult vocabularies, they “play”. Who does not love to play? Many, during this time, feel what it is to exercise their gift, which enables them to experience what they, as creative individuals and artists, were meant to do (to create).

Who would not want to live in that place forever? For me, that is utter joy and I want to feel that feeling and be in that mental state of being as often as possible, for it makes me feel that I am alive.

But, if independence is your desire, you must experience the other side of the coin. The other side of the coin—the office work that is necessary to build the infrastructure that will enable you to create in a larger, more frequent fashion, must be done. For many, that is drudgery. For such mentally inclined individuals, they might even let this drudgery sabotage their interest and thirst for greater financial and creative freedom.

If  we want to make a living from our art, we must ask the question:

“If I am not willing to do the work I find tedious, hard to do or undesirable, because I want to only do the creative stuff, do I deserve to make a living from my craft and to be independent?” Some, at this point, turn their ambitions away from their desire for independence and turn their art into a hobby.

But, if you are willing to engage the necessary drudgery work, to do whatever is necessary to manifest a vision, your vision, into reality, then you are in for a ride. President Harry Truman said, “Being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or he is swallowed”. Sounds like a pretty high-risk game, eh? That is entrepreneurship. Though your ambitions may not be on par with running a large country, Truman touches on a point that is easily understood by those who build their own business.

I should note that when I say “run your own business” or similar such, your thoughts need not turn to running a business in a physical space. How an actor approaches the profession of acting, a dancer the industry of dance (or whatever other medium of artistry they may practice), entrepreneurial training is going to serve them.

With great dreams comes great responsibility. If you have a dream, a desire, a longing inside of you, if you press it down, so as to not have to take responsibility for it, the world will never know it and neither will you. How unfortunate.

We love our heroes. We watch the hero saga with every movie we watch and most stories we read. We identify with heroes.

Are you to be the hero of your own life, to accept that there will be obstacles, grief, hardship and generally negative periods that suck? Are you willing to accept that and do what is necessary to consistently overcome said obstacles? Here is the silver lining: Remember that because we are dualistic by nature and design, there is the flip side to every experience. Though that positive experience may not come as you expect and desire in the moment, it will come. You cannot have joy without its opposite. The inverse follows, ad infinitum.

Personally, I have never felt a larger creative joy, I have known a greater sense of personal fulfillment, expansion and balance within my life, than during time periods of running my own creative business. Truly, it is like riding a wild beast and it makes me feel the “rapture of being” or what it is to be awake and alive.

The actor’s role is the micro creative vision. The directors’ vision is a little larger and the producer, ideally, still larger more. Sometimes the writers’ vision is larger than each of these roles, in the act of creating theatre.

But, the building of your vision, into a profitable reality, is a macro vision and is, chances are, infinitely larger and, consequently, possessing of that much more potential than any singular act of theatre could every possibly hold. Entrepreneurship is a big vision pursuit.

Vision can be taught, for it is merely a way of seeing.

Jim Hart is the founder of Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts and The International Theatre Academy Norway, The Hart Technique and Sleeping Hero Productions, LLC.

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2 thoughts on “I Want to Do the Creative Part, not the “Work Part”.

  1. Jim-people need to be reminded of this again and again, or laziness sets in along with restlessness and irritation, and nothing fantastic ever happens, then regret and despair. My grandma had a plaque that said -the lives of lazy people are like clouds, they pass but leave no mark upon the world. So I say-If your ship doesnt come in, swim out to it! um that is not my personal quote. Keep the inspired monologue flowin!

  2. Hi Beka and thanks for your comment.

    It is my belief that laziness is not always the principle culprit. Certainly, for some it is and for those individuals, they face the adventure denied, which is the most boring story of all.

    This said, I know tons of artists who work their asses off and put a phenomenal amount of energy into their work. Tricky thing is that some are putting energy in directions that do not necessarily support their larger interests (like making a living from their craft).

    If one does not have the skill sets to produce one´s own work, they are going to have to acquire them or engage another person to assist. If that individual cannot initially afford to bring someone else into their work, then they are faced with a choice: 1. figure it out themselves or 2. Don´t do what may be necessary and face the inevitable consequences of non action.

    Here is a silver lining for those who just absolutely dread the office-type work. Build your product (your art) up to a profitable state and you can then expand. Perhaps then you can hire someone to take on responsibilities you would rather not expend your limited energies towards. But until that day arrives, many will have to play the role of “one man band”.

    It is easy to become intimidated when facing a task that requires a skill set that is foreign to our experience. This said, all artists of any worth are intelligent people. Intelligent people typically have the ability to learn new skill sets, when necessary. Where there is a will, there is a way.

    My wife shared a great metaphor last night. She described being self-sufficient in the arts like being in a marriage. In a marriage, one has to wear many hats: friend, lover, confidant, perspective giver, occasional butt kicker when deserved (metaphorically not violently), finance manager, etc. Similarly, the independent artist must sometimes wear many hats: PR/Marketing, fund raising, reception, basic book keeping, research, etc.

    Everyone wants to do the art part. Building the proper infrastructure can lead towards sustainability. That is the ultimate goal–being able to stay in the game.

    To be independent is to not have to rely on others for ALL of your creative, professional opportunities. This said, all things in moderation.

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