The Curse of Being Creative
While creativity is a gift, it can also be a curse, because if you are like me, it can hold you back in other areas of your business that you also need to master. In this article, I share my journey and what I learned in the process that can help you as well if you’re a creative person.
I have always been a creative person. I started keeping journals and writing poetry in junior high school. I took dance classes from the age of 5 until I graduated from high school. And while I tried to fit in by going to college and graduate school (in architecture), there came a point where I couldn’t do it any- more. I was suffering from panic attacks and anxiety. I finally quit graduate school at the end of my second year, against the wishes of my family and boyfriend, got into therapy, and became a songwriter after my therapist suggested that my poems sounded like songs and maybe I should pursue it.
I was in the music business for 20 years and I loved every minute of it. My husband and I built a world-class studio in the house I grew up in, but when my parents both passed away within 11 months of each other, we had to sell the house. So, I lost the only way I had to make a living.
And to make matters worse, the house was earthquake damaged in the Northridge earthquake, so we had to fix it before we could sell it at a profit. So, my husband and I fixed the house and made quite a bit of money on it. It was at a time when the real-estate market was just starting to take off. We lived in Los Angeles at the time. But, we wanted a change of scenery once my parents were gone, so we moved down to San Diego. It was perfect timing. The real-estate market was just starting to move here, so we started buying, fixing and selling condos and houses.
We made almost a million dollars in a very short amount of time, but then the market got too hot, and there was nothing to buy that we could make money on. So, we went back to Los Angeles and that’s when I got on the Internet and started networking locally. Since writing had always been one of my best skills, I started offering my copywriting services online.
But, I quickly realized that it wasn’t something I wanted to do long term because each project took a lot of hours and too many of my clients didn’t understand that what mattered was not if they liked it as much as whether it converted or not. Plus, I’d always wanted to write books.
So, I got on the Internet and started researching book writing. I found a New York Times Bestselling Author who critiqued my work, told me he thought it was good enough to make a living writing, and I should start sending my writing out on spec.
That was the last thing I wanted to do after being in the music business for 20 years prior to our real-estate years. In the music business, I got paid 10 cents a record while the artist and the publishers got rich, and I had absolutely no control over getting my songs cut. I didn’t want to do that again. So, I started looking around online and found ebooks. And I’ll never forget how excited I was! I ran out of my office shouting at my husband, that I had found eBooks and I was going to start writing them!
My first book was called The Moving Cure, How to Organize Your Move to Save Time, Money & Your Sanity and I was having difficulty learning how to write, publish, and market from a book. So, I went looking for an ebook coach and there weren’t any. I hired a regular coach instead. It was expensive and inefficient. I would write, make mistakes, and then my coach would read it and tell me what I did wrong. I remember thinking that I could teach it better.
So, I did the research and put together my first program, 3 Days to eBook Cash. It had a lot of good information in it, but it wasn’t great. I kept working on it and improving it, until it was everything it should be. It is one of my signature programs; I have taught it to people all over the world, and it has changed lives.
And, I have gone on to create several other programs.
But, what I found was that I was always happier when I was creating something because it was new and different, and I could go at my own pace. But the marketing was always on a deadline, and it would stress me out.
So, I felt like I was on this merry-go-round of creating and enjoying it then rushing around feeling stressed out and exhausted, and then having to teach it. Then, the cycle would start all over again. Plus with each cycle, I would take on another new project to keep me interested. It was too much!
I had to accept that as a creative I always want to be doing something creative, and I had to make room for that in any marketing plan and in my life without feeling guilty about it.
FINDING MY WAY OUT
I had to take a step back and look at what I really wanted and that was not easy. I would compare myself to other “successful” experts and feel like I SHOULD aspire to the same things they were doing, but it wasn’t making me happy. So, I made a list of my skills AND what I enjoyed doing and decided to change my business model.
I also had to stop looking at all the shiny objects out there and spending so much time learning new things instead of focusing on the goals I wanted to accomplish myself. I had to put blinders on.
It definitely got easier once I got very clear on exactly what my goals were.
Then, I had to figure out how I was going to start doing more of what I wanted to do and less of what I didn’t want to do.
Again, it wasn’t easy. The key is outsourcing and automation, but you still have to stop what you’re doing, find the right people, and teach them how to do the jobs you want done. You also have to set up automation, and then you have to test it and make sure it works; it’s a process. And it’s always easier to keep doing what you’ve been doing in the short run even though it’s hurting you in the long run.
I also had to accept that as a creative I always want to be doing something creative, and I had to make room for that in any marketing plan, otherwise, I would start to sink into a black hole.
And I had to accept that I am better at starting projects than finishing them for two reasons. First, I have a new idea about every five minutes and as a coach, I know that the latest idea is always the most exciting one and the one you want to work on until the next one pops into your head and feels even better! And second, if you don’t focus, you will start too many projects, and then get stressed out because they aren’t finished on time.
And then, I had to start working on not being so hard on myself and this one has not been easy for me. Surrounding myself with loving supportive people, who are there for me even when I can’t quite get it together myself, has been really important for me and hanging out with successful people.
Then, I have my daily routine. I do affirmations and meditate every morning. And if I’m feeling really down, I whip out testimonials and notes that people have written me telling me how much I’ve helped them.
But, I also realized that I had certain patterns of thought and if I didn’t break them, I was going to continue to make the same kinds of mistakes over and over, so I hired a coach to help me create new ways of thinking about my work and started doing EFT to break up old mental patterns.
I think you have to work on the business and on yourself if you want to get better so that is what I’ve done.
This is an excerpt from How to Crush it in Business Without Crushing Your Spirit, How Entrepreneurs Can Overcome Depression and Find Success, 17 stories from entrepreneurs around depression and how they deal with it. http://ellenlikes.com/crush-it