A career in a creative industry…

…is certainly not all roses.

It’s easier in many ways to have a regular job and create on the side.

I met a man this morning who gave up a permanent and pensionable job 16 years ago. His accountant, fearing for his future, asked if he wouldn’t even have kept the old job on for one day a week to at least have kept some sort of pension, but this man just knew he wanted out.

I have had that feeling – I have alluded to it in at least one previous blog – and I know many other creative people have too. Some people can ignore it and be happy as long as they get to fulfil their creative urges outside of work. Others, like the man above just have to get out.

But what happens when you’re out? How does it work from then?

Well – in the early days you might take every bit of work going. Stay busy, they say, and everyone needs jobs that pay. You build up a name for yourself in a certain area and you are making a good living. And then you realise that you aren’t actually doing the type of work you really wanted to do when you set out. So you have to readjust.

Or you might be very clear about the exact type of work you want to do from the start. You turn down all other work and stay focused on this particular niche. You pick up a few bits and pieces but soon realise that there isn’t enough of this type of work to sustain you and so you also have some readjusting to do. Do you go back to a regular job or do you take something else up on the side to keep yourself going?

Either way it’s tricky. Maintaining a balance is difficult. Keeping yourself above water is a challenge.

Unless you’re Meryl Streep. Or Randy Newman. Or Martin Scorsese. And you spend your days doing the thing you always wanted to do, doing it better than anybody else and getting paid really well for it. But even they have their challenges.

And the odds are that you won’t end up in that category. So we’re back to constant readjustment.

Which can be difficult. And it can be easy to get disillusioned.

So you must enjoy the good days, celebrate the memorable moments, the times when the magic happened. Remember the student who you helped find their voice, the young adult who because of you has the courage to follow their dream. Appreciate all the time you have got to spend working in an area you love. And remember what the alternative is.

Because none of us want to lose our spark.