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Issue 6

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In this issue ~~

* Making Money While You Create

* Taking Care of Yourself

* Creative Tip

* Wise Words

* Bookshelf

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Making Money While You Create

Very often, while we're building our creative careers, we have to find other ways of making money. We may fall into jobs we began in high school or college, developing additional skills and getting better positions. Computers have opened up a myriad of well-paying jobs that you don't have to "take home" with you and that don't carry the stresses of waiting tables. If the work is pleasant enough, pays enough, and doesn't drain your creative energy, these are certainly viable options. But another possibility is to adapt your creative skills for the market.

Make a list of the skills and resources you've developed in and around your craft. How else can you apply these skills? Do they fit into an existing job, or can you create something new? If you have an entrepreneurial bent, you might want to start your own business. One actor I know who's self-motivated and efficient set up his own "guy friday" business, doing errands for other people. Another started a service organizing and managing home moves and relocations for busy executives. Or get the Sunday classifieds and go through with a fine-tooth comb and some imagination to see where you could apply your skills.

How about a mailing service to send out pictures and resumes or press releases using databases you've developed for your own mailings? Or selling your mailing list on self-stick mailing labels? How about teaching kids or beginners what you know? Selling theatre books, art supplies or musical instruments in a retail store? Or turning a hobby into a job, like teaching tennis or skating, or working in the pro shop?

Or how about these ...

~ Artists: Portraits, Hand-made notecards, Commercial illustration or graphic design

~ Writers: Write articles for a local newspaper or regional magazine, Write back cover copy for books, Edit other people's writing

~ Actors: Witness at mock trials in law schools, Record audiobooks, Coach executives on public speaking

~ Singers: Supernumerary for operas, Lead singalongs at children's parties, Church choir

~ Dancers: Fitness trainer, Artist's model, Social dance instructor

~ Musicians: Play at weddings and private parties, Accompany singers or dance classes, Busker (street entertainer)

Taking other jobs may feel to you like a failure. But doing what you need to do to support yourself while you build your artistic career is smart. The suffering, starving artist image just doesn't cut it anymore. Aside from the expense of your training and supplies, you deserve to be comfortable and creative. If you work it right, you can certainly have both.

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Taking Care of Yourself

Being involved in a creative pursuit often takes a lot of time and energy. In the whirlwind of our hectic schedule -- pushing ourselves to earn money, create, and still get the dishes done -- we can easily drop out on taking proper care of ourselves. But if you're sick or exhausted, you can't create. You need a clear mind to generate ideas and a healthy body to implement them, especially when your body is your instrument.

I find that when I'm excited about a project, I become driven to work on and complete it and forget to take time for self-care. But when I do that, I'm usually not happy with the consequences. Sure, I get a lot done. But sooner or later, I become fatigued, and if I keep pushing it, start to burn out or just feel awful. I need to find the balance between getting my work done and taking care of the day-to-day concerns of life without running myself into the ground.

A few key ways to take care of yourself:

~ Have a survival job that doesn't drain you and provides you with adequate resources. There are all kinds of flexible, well-paying jobs for imaginative, self-motivated people. You might even find one that enhances your creative work through contacts, information or new skills.

~ Eat fresh, healthy food. If you're eating on the run, pack a sandwich or choose something other than fast food or junk food. If you don't have time to cook, there are services that prepare home-cooked meals and deliver them to you at a reasonable price.

~ Get enough sleep. I know it's hard sometimes, but being fatigued is counterproductive. Honor the amount of sleep that you need and don't feel you have to compete with people who function well on less.

~ Exercise. If you're a performer, you need to keep your body in shape anyway. For everyone, getting adequate exercise helps keep you healthy, both physically and emotionally (better to stimulate your endorphins with exercise than chocolate!).

~ Minimize stress. Do what you can today and put the rest aside. The world won't stop if you don't complete your project that day. Worry is wasted energy. Most of what we worry about never happens, and on the few occasions that it does, worrying doesn't help anyway.

~ Take time to rejuvenate. Spend time with friends. Meditate. Take a walk in nature. Take a bubble bath. Get a massage. Read a good book. Go to a movie. Enjoy a delicious, well-prepared meal.

~ Have a good support system and social outlets. Some creative work is isolating. Be sure you have contact with other people, as well as those in your life who support and encourage you.

~ Keep your environment neat and functional. A home that's uncomfortable, or where you can't find what you need, drains your energy and distracts you.

~ Recognize when you need a "mental health" day to just walk away from it all and pamper yourself.

This may sound like a lot, but when you're in good shape and focused, you can accomplish more in less time. If you can't do everything on the list, think of it as an ideal and go for what you can. Start where you're most out of balance. And you don't have to do it alone. If possible, hire someone to run errands or do housework, or divide tasks among your family or roommates. Trade favors with friends. Clean your house together one week and theirs the next. Have a house-painting party followed by a barbeque. Go to the gym with a friend.

And I strongly suggest not treating relaxation time as an indulgence. I can always find more work that needs to be done, so if I don't deliberately set aside time for play and rest, it won't happen. I've even come to hold my periodic massages as a health necessity, to level off accumulated stress, rather than a luxury. However you choose to use it, do make sure you have some down time to restore body and soul.

Make self-care a priority. Set aside the time. It may be hard, but you'll find your productivity increasing, you'll feel better, and you'll enjoy what you're doing that much more.

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Creative Tip

If you're supporting yourself with work you don't particularly enjoy, think of ways you can make your job more palatable. Approach the job with a fresh attitude. Create positive relationships with people at work. Make it a game. See what you can bring to the party that will make it a more positive experience for everyone.

 

Wise Words

"When we truly care for ourselves, it becomes possible to care far more profoundly about other people."

~ Eda LeShan

Bookshelf

(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)

The Job Book: 100 Acting Jobs for Actors . . . Glenn Alterman

100 Best Careers for Writers and Artists . . . Shelly Field

Power Freelancing: Home-Based Careers for Writers, Designers, and Consultants . . . George Sorenson

Seeking Your Healthy Balance . . . Donald A. Tubesing, Nancy Loving Tubesing

Joan Lunden's Healthy Living: A Practical, Inspirational Guide to Creating Balance in Your Life . . . Joan Lunden, Laura Morton

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© 1998 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.

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