Putting Too Much Pressure on Your Creativity

As a college student, summer is a time to either make progress or stay stagnant. It is a change of season that can affect many things in your life. All the progress of self improvement and productivity that you made in the school year can either be furthered or lessened or lost all together.

Going into this summer I had a very distinct plan, I wanted to get ahead so I made some goals for myself to complete before the start of August. Knowing that I would be moving out come August 1st, I would need some money to do so.

Making money with your passion

With that in mind, I did not want to work a regular job. I was tired of retail and didn’t want to work in the food industry.

I wanted to make money doing something I was passionate about. For me one of my greatest passions in life is film. It is what I am going to school for and what I want to do for the rest of my life.

That is the dream for almost every creative out their. Let alone everyone. Making money doing what you love to do.

The problem with that

There is a downside with using your creative passion as your main source of income. It puts stress and passion on your craft.

I had a regular gig setup for once I got out of school. With it I would be doing what I love and making the money I needed. The best part is that I would only have to work around 3 days a week.

Sounds like the ideal way to make money over a summer break right?

Well the relationship with the production company eventually fell through. The person that told me of all the work I would be getting moved across the country and my connection was gone.

Leaving me in a state of no job and no plan. The only thing I could do was try to get the connection back, with no avail.

This left me with very few options on what I could do to make the money I needed for the summer. I did what I know how to do and search Craigslist for Film and Photo gigs near me. Applying to as many as I could with no response.

So not only was I not getting a gig but one of my greatest passions in life was not sustaining me enough making the money I needed.

It made me feel and second guess if I am a good enough filmmaker to make “it” doing what I love and overall what I was created to do.

This brought a huge fear over me. I am in fact going to school for film and have no back up plan whatsoever. The great passion I have for film was not able to sustain me like I thought it should.

I hear of these people my age, straight out of high school, making money with film. Doing projects that they want to do.

I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to do the same over three months.

Three reasons why I wasn’t able to

1. I didn’t give it enough time.

I only gave searching for film gigs a short time. Maybe a month at most. That is an incredibly short amount of time to start in the business with no connections.

The people that start right away already have the connections they need to do so.

It can take college graduates months to finally land their first “real” job once they get out of school.

I only tried for a short time, hoping that something great would come my way automatically.

2. I wasn’t relentless about it.

Now I knew this is what I wanted to do. But did I put in every ounce of what I had to get the film gigs I wanted?

As soon as summer break started and I went back to live with my parents, I lost most of the motivation and excitement I had created in the last few weeks of the semester.

It was so much easier to sit down and do nothing than open up a computer, do some research, and correctly cold email companies and people I wanted to work for.

3. It wasn’t the right time.

I am good at my craft, I’ve made money doing it already. The problem wasn’t that I am not good enough to make money at it. It just wasn’t the right time to strictly make money doing only film.

Now some people do start making money right away. I believe that is a select few; not everyone is meant to be successful in film right away.

Some people have to keep there 9 to 5 and wait until the right opportunity comes or they make it themselves.

Keeping your day job

Elizabeth Gilbert author of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear talks about in her book how she didn’t quit her day job until the monster success of her book Eat, Pray, Love was released.

Gilbert already had three books published with some of those winning awards. Yet she didn’t quit her day job.

She didn’t want to put pressure on her creativity.

The writer waited until she was absolutely certain that she could make money with her passion.

“to yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.” 
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Finding a better day job

Now with that being said, this doesn’t mean you have to do something you hate until you make it big like Gilbert.

You can make money doing something in your field.

It is possible to stop waiting tables and start making money doing something closer to your dream.

This past year I was blessed to get a job as a student media production associate for a in house production company at my university.

While I might not want to be there forever, I am blessed to have a job where I can create films. That is the best thing about it. I am making money doing something close to what I want to do when I get out of school.

Don’t quit your current job until you have something else. Wait until you have a better opportunity before you stop waiting those tables.

Hopefully my experience helps other creatives know that putting pressure on your creativity can create fear and make you second guess your gifts and talents.

If you have a passion for something, don’t quit if you can’t make a living from it. Hold on to it and let it bring joy to your life and someday hopefully others.