Tips for juggling creativity and work: part 1

Some time ago, I wrote a post called “The Juggling Act.” I got quite a lot of responses from you guys, about how you face the challenge of juggling creativity and a paying job.  So I thought I would interview three creative types and get their insights about how they do the juggle. This week’s creative type is:

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Creative Type No. 1:

David Sharpe, playwright and business analyst for the creative industries

David was a recent finalist in the Short’n’Sweet play competition, and won best emerging playwright award.  He’s currently working on a number of play and film projects.

1.  What’s your creative passion or dream?
To write for theatre and for film/television.

2.  How do you support yourself financially?
I work full time in arts management.

3.  Are there sacrifices involved in following your creative dream, and what makes it worthwhile?

It’s the other way round.  It’s my creative output that suffers from me working full time. So the sacrifice is less time spent writing and learning how to do it better. But I like the security of full time work and the bonus is that I enjoy working in arts management.

What makes this juggling act worthwhile is two things:

  • seeing my work performed and
  • being able to pay the mortgage.
  • 4.  Do you hope to support yourself through your creative work / do you already?
    No.  I hope to be able to continue to work full time and find enough time to pursue my writing.

    5.  What are your top three tips for managing a creative passion?

  • Commit to it.  Set yourself goals. Where you can, quit other things you’re doing and pursue your creative work (I know, I know.  How can I say this when I’m working full time?  But you can cut out the other stuff around you – for instance, I’m currently finishing and unrelated degree early in order to concentrate on my writing).
  • Continually improve your work.  Seek criticism of your work from smart, talented people.  Don’t be precious about it – it’s vital.  You won’t be able to manage a creative passion if your product is no good.
  • Find people who can help.  Make contacts, pursue opportunities, create a network.  In turn, take time to help those people who help you.  If nothing else, you meet some great people!  But it’s practical too – I know that none of my work would have got to stage without the efforts of others, so I keep networking.
  • 6.  Where would you like to be in your life in five years time, and what are three things you are doing now to get you there?

    I’d like to still be pursuing my career in arts management.  I will probably still be working full time – though possibly I might move to working for myself.

    Creatively, I’d like to have a range of plays and scripts ready for production and available to exploit.  I’d like at least some of those plays be in regular demand for production, and to generate a small stream of income.  And I’d like to eventually – maybe in five years, maybe sooner or later – have a full length play produced by a major company and published.  How’s that?

    I’m searching for professional development opportunities.  Making contact with people who can improve my writing.

    I’m looking for opportunities for my work to be performed – in essence, bringing it to the attention of others who can produce it.

    I’ve set some goals for the year – to continue to develop one full-length script and to write the first draft of another.  To have two more short plays produced.  To enter one new competition.  To access two professional development opportunities. To write two short film scripts – one new and one adapted from a previous work.  Some of these are done already!  And some haven’t been started…

    And just for the moment, I’m not writing.  No time.  But soon there will be and until then there’s other stuff I can do.  I’m reading, watching, listening, researching, making notes – so that I’ll be ready to work.

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    A big thank you to David for giving us such honest and useful advice!  Next week, I’ll publish Tori’s tips.  Tori is a food writer by night, a communications officer by day.  You can check out her blog at http://eat-tori.blogspot.com/

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