Ray Bradbury famously said, “I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.” In that sentiment lies much of the reality of life for highly creative writers. It is a condition marked by a drive to constantly assess new ideas, innovate processes, and tackle projects and challenges that ultimately will provide a high level of satisfaction.
If that’s you, it’s a benefit in a lot of ways because it means you’re naturally inclined to approach your life’s work with the innovation and grit needed to succeed. But, it isn’t without its challenges.
In an article for Fiscal Tiger, researcher Katie McBeth writes, “Being a constantly innovation-minded person can be tiring. There will always be a new idea or concept that can come across your mind and so many avenues that you will want to pursue. But if you work on building a business that can sustain that innovation, and can welcome the discourse and struggles that come with it, then you will be well on your way to sustaining an innovative platform.”
We live in a world where creatives are not always going to find themselves in contexts that feel overly welcoming. However, that reality just affirms the fact that the world is in serious need of those willing to push the envelope just a little bit more.
While creatives are often responsible for getting some of the best, most innovative work done, they also face the challenges associated with their personality. Research demonstrates consistently that along with innovation, motivation, and intelligence, creativity is also linked to spontaneity and unpredictability.
But creative writers often find that the angle no one else has found is to approach it in a way no one else has, even as you ensure you’re working as a team player and that you’re willing to see goals relating to the groups.
And, in those moments, it’s important to remember that ultimately your individuality should not suffer. When you feel your distinct qualities are drawing too much attention or making things too difficult, the strategic response is to adjust how you’re operating on a case-by-case basis, but not to squelch who you are, overall.
Being highly creative is not a quality that can be turned on or off. Instead, the passion and the ideas are nearly always flowing. But—especially for those of us who have full-time jobs or student workloads—it can be tempting to believe that you do not have the time or the energy to commit to the writing you’re most passionate about.
Yet, research shows intrinsic reasons are often highly motivating factors for creatives, even more so than the prospect of something like a paycheck. As we’ve noted before, many young creatives—writers and beyond—pursue an artistic side hustle outside of their full-time jobs.
Academia has already taken note of how the modern workforce is prioritizing purpose in a way previous generations never did; there’s a cultural shift that affirms the value of more than just a paycheck.
Setting the bar high for yourself will mean consistently assessing your life and asking yourself if you’re incorporating the right challenges that will ensure your creativity has an appropriate outlet. If you have a 9-to-5, it will mean making thoughtful judgement calls in relation to how the job supports your priorities and passions.
If you always give your 9-to-5, or other responsibilities, the front seat ahead of your writing, your passion will take a back seat. If your day job utilizes the same skill set as your passion, it can be especially easy to feel burnt out, even doing what you love.
Thus, it’s important you make the time to decide what direction you want to go, and that you take the practical steps needed to get there. Burnout isn’t always the result of too much—sometimes it’s the result of not enough of the right thing.
As Jessica Lawler wrote, “Once your passion project is in motion, the benefits will become clear. You’ll find yourself more energized and excited, you’ll add to your ever-growing skillset, and you might even help boost your business or career.”
For highly creative people, it’s especially important that writing happens consistently so that projects and ideas don’t become stale or tired.
For the creative person, thriving will likely mean being able to balance work and side projects. It will mean that the resources of time and energy are available so that you have what you need to make the endeavors important to you happen.
You have to be willing to recognize your creative inclination as one of your best assets, not just in a practical way, but also in terms of who you are as a human being. So, trusting your instincts and abilities as a writer largely means taking ownership of what’s happening in your life. Given the fact that time is of the essence, this can make or break your potential success.
If you are uninspired or unmotivated, or are failing to find ways to incorporate your passion into your daily life, you need to track down the root of the problem and adjust.
Additionally, there’s value in recognizing that failure will likely come in one form or another, but failure does not mean you don’t have the ability to thrive long-term.
A study published in the Journal of Business Venturing found that serial entrepreneurs who have experienced failure have the same level of optimism as those who haven’t. Why? Because intrinsic motivation is satisfied primarily by pursuing that which one is passionate about. The internal reward provides enough momentum to carry them over the external road bumps.
Trust the voice that tells you to try again. And again. And again.
The secrets of thriving as a creative boil down to committing to what works for you, and not what allows you to best fit in. There are times when this will mean doing things like approaching projects at a day job differently than you do your own writing.
You may have to use your creativity to figure out which specific skills should be utilized at specific jobs; diluting or suppressing your abilities in an overall sense will almost certainly mean handicapping your most creative projects and goals.
By day, Chloe Moore writes content for an internet marketing company, and by night she freelances. She’s a parent and a Navy spouse who enjoys rereading “East of Eden” and rewatching “Parks and Recreation” when the stars align and she has the time.