I was asked a question today: being a creative, how do you balance all the creative endeavors your want to do?
What my friend was asking in long form was this: I want to play music, and code an app, and write a book. But I don't get to really do any of those things and the only this I really finish is yardwork.
In short form: I'm not fully enjoying the things I want to enjoy.
Being ambitious and creative is a dangerous combination for the human psyche if we don't have a good outlet for doing both. I'm blessed: I have a dream job, where I get to use my talents to create amazing tools on a variety of digital platforms, always trying to push what a "digital book" is and can be. My ambition and creativity are fulfilled by my job. But even still, I get stuck in the same trap that my friend gets stuck in:
Being ambition and creative means we want our creativity to be successful. We tie some unreasonable goal to our creative endeavors in order to make our creativity seem worthwhile. If we're going to write music, we want it to sell. If we're going to write a book, we need it to be published.
A different friend, Shawn, is an artist through and through. He makes art to make art. He's been a painter, a musician, an author, and a director all in the past 11 years that I've known him. All the while working at his day job to pay the bills. It seems every few years he decides he is going to be something know, and take on some giant creative project. And he succeeds.
We live in a world where, if you started today, you could write a book, release an app, and record an album all in less than ten years even if you have never done any of that before. We live in a society that there are so. many. tools. at our fingertips. All we have to do is use them.
We need to get past the American dream of financial gain and just create. Just commit to doing one thing and get. it. done. Learn by shipping. And if you learn that after you've completed your project it's time for the next one... move on. Do it. And enjoy it.
Chances are, you're not going to be the next NYT best seller. You're not going to be on any billboard chart, ever, and your app will never win an Apple design award. But you'll have done it. You'll have done it for you and your family. Your great grandson might read that book. It might change his life.
We get so caught up in success from a worldly perspective that we lose site of just being us. If we are called to create, create. If we are called to be ambition, be ambitious. But don't get so caught up in the false sense of success that you start making what should be creative choices for profit sensibility. That's called business.
Your life is not a business. Your art is not meant to be sold. You are not meant to be a product, you are meant to be you.
So do one thing. Commit to it. Do that which is calling to you first... complete it. Then, if you want, move on to the next thing. Who knows what you might discover about yourself. There is time in this life to do everything you want to do. You just have to start today.