The driver of the car in front of me appears to be talking to his children in the backseat with a sock puppet. #weird
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to be a successful creative professional. The problem is, I think that nobody’s ever really set out to define exactly what a successful creative professional is.
Note: I’m using the phrase “creative professional” instead of “artist”. Defining what an “artist” is…that’s a can of worms I don’t particularly want to open right now. “Creative professional” is pretty simply defined as someone who makes money from his or her creativity.
For my own purposes – as in, at what point will I consider myself a “successful” creative professional – I define it as being able to support my family’s needs with my craft, having the respect of my peers, and being proud of my own work.
Most people, though, would probably attach some level of fame and/or fortune to my definition, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I’m not going to attempt to quantify those, though. Feels sort of impossible…
All of this adds up to “successful” being an incredibly subjective term. On one hand, you have my (relatively) humble idea of success, and on another you may have “Success is creating something that completely changes the medium.” Or maybe one has to change the world to be viewed as successful in your eyes.
Regardless of your definition of success, I believe that there are three common factors that contribute to that success in a creative profession.
Keep in mind that I’m not including factors that are common to all kinds of success. Things like work ethic, drive, and focus; you gotta have those things to be a successful executive. You gotta have those things to be a successful truck driver. A successful entrepreneur. A successful parent.
But three things set the successful creative professional apart from the wannabe successful creative professional. The guy or gal who retires from their craft, from the guy or gal who retires from a desk job, having only tinkered in creative endeavors throughout their lives.
I believe that we all can have it. Whether or not your unique vision becomes the thing that changes the world, well, that’s probably a question of timing. Thus, this factor is still not completely in your control.
So if I’m right, and these three things are the factors that contribute to success in a creative field, what do they really mean? Practically speaking, of course.
Simply put: sharpen it. Your “day job” should probably be something that sharpen your skills. Your hobbies should probably things that sharpen your skills. Practice, practice, practice.
If you have none of it, at least learn how to recognize it. Then, be around those people. Earn their respect with your hard work.
If you do have it, foster it. Care for it. Respect it.
Find yours. If you have nothing at all that sets you apart from others in your field, you have little to no hope of success. Unless your definition of success is to make millions creating bland ripoffs of other people’s work. Figure out what makes you different, and embrace that.
Bottom line: do what you love to do. If you can’t make any money at it, do it in your spare time. Each of us has the capacity to create…and few things bring anywhere near the same level of satisfaction.
What else would you say contributes to the success of a creative professional?
I’ve been a lazy bear. Coming out of hibernation isn’t fun. Or, torpor, rather. It’s just been a really busy season, so the ol’ blog’s been back-burnered for a while.
On this the last day of the first month of 2011, I wanted to dust it off, shake off my sleep, and give it another go. Join me?
After a somewhat needed running hiatus, I’m back at it. Building mileage each week and growing stronger every day. I’ve been able to stay reasonably free from pain this go ’round.
Like last year, for no other reason than to satisfy my need to over-share, I wanted to sort of share my plan for the year. Read on, if you dare!
My weekly mileage should be gradually increasing, but here’s what I’m aiming for:
My long runs are increasing slowly…this weekend I’ll run 14. Then every other week, I’ll run 10 as a recovery run, adding 2 miles on my long weeks after that. So it’ll be 14, 10, 16, 10, 18… You get the idea. The goal is to get to an average of 50 miles per week prior to my first race of the year in May, with my longest week being about 60 miles, two weeks prior to my first race. Currently, I’m hovering around 20 miles per week.
Ahh, my race schedule. Because I know you’re just sitting on the edge of your seat, wishing I’d share. Here you go. Have a cookie.
So keep checking back, kids.
(NOTE: This is actually part two of a 31-post series as I work through ProBlogger’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.)
So as I was considering my shiny elevator pitch yesterday, it occurred to me that I’ve never really defined what being “not bad, but good” really looks like. Part of this blog is actually figuring that out, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I could identify some very clear things that I think everyone would agree make a person…gooder. Stated as stuff that I need. Because it’s all about me.
What’s missing? Comment away…
My first task in 31 Days to Build a Better Blog was to create an “elevator pitch”. This baby’s supposed to be a short and to-the-point synopsis of what this blog’s about. You know. Something you could easily tell someone in an elevator ride.
Well, since this blog is really just a personal deal, my pitch is also personal, and I’ve recently updated it. On my About page, it reads like this:
This site’s about my attempt(s) to be not bad, but good.
Can’t get much more succinct than that. Granted, every pro-blogger would advise against such a pitch, as it doesn’t really fill a need of anyone else. Good thing I have no intention of becoming a pro-blogger.
So if you’re ever wondering what this site is about, there you have it. It’s about me, trying to be not bad, but good.
Day One: Done.
I share a lot about myself here on the blog, though admittedly, it’s all a show. Anyone who knows me personally could tell you that this is a caricature of who I really am; only the appearance of openness.
However, I wanted to take a moment and share something from the fringes of my personal life. An old friend and his brother have been through an ordeal to which my words couldn’t possibly pay proper respect. I’ll leave it to you, my readers, to read their story for yourselves. It’s a story of sacrifice and love that I can’t wrap my head around.
In all of my joking and writing over the coming weeks. In my busy-ness and commentary about nothing, this story…this is something that matters. Nobility that I can’t even touch.
My heart and prayers are with you, Arnold family. And Ryan, you have my eternal respect. I’m in awe.