Tag Archives: jobs

In Which I Want To Be Creative But Don’t Do Creative Things

A few of you have noticed that I haven’t been blogging lately.  Thanks to those that have taken

asleep at the keyboard

When creative slumps attack

the time to say something.  I’m encouraged, knowing that I have some sort of audience.  It’s not that I don’t want to be creative, it’s just all of the hard work of DOING creative that gets in the way.

I guess you could say I’m in a bit of a creative slump.  I relate to Dan Harmon, creator of the sitcom “Community,” who recently blogged about the need for an outside stressor to motivate him in his creative writing pursuits:   ” . . . if nobody’s waiting to hear from you, why say anything, if you’re not saying anything, nobody’s listening, slipping you deeper and deeper into a creative coma.”

Dear reader, please don’t think I’m calling you “nobody” or dismissing you as not worth writing for.  It’s just that you don’t give me a paycheck.  You don’t fire me if I let a deadline slip a few days or months.  I’ve made myself the promise that “I’ll write a little something every day” countless times, but it’s just not working.  I always peter out.  Even though I dream of one day quitting my day job to write funny stuff professionally, I apparently don’t have enough internal motivation to take the small steps necessary to make that happen.

Interestingly, in some areas of my life, I have incredible willpower, and can just pull myself up by my bootstraps and make big changes without requiring external pressure.  Eating, for instance.  I’ve let myself go a few times, and have put on 20-30 extra pounds.  When I decide it’s time, I can instantly start eating better and shed the pounds at will.  I can resist desserts and high calorie temptations on my own without any special diet or food overlord.  Why don’t I have this kind of self-control when I comes to creative pursuits?

So, writers and creatives, I could use your input here.  What keeps you in the game?  What tricks have you learned to keep you on task?  So far the only ideas I’ve got are:

  1. Be a better person
  2. Quit my job and starve my family until I hit my stride and strike it rich as a sitcom writer

There!  I made it all the way to the end of a new post!  I shall reward myself with a cookie.

Brian and Stormtrooper

To resume, or not to resume? Sell your talent

I stumbled across a couple of really good blog posts about selling your talent recently.  The first post comes from People and Chairs, a great improv comedy blog.  In their post How To Write a Kickass Performer Bio, they talk about how to make a resume/bio stand out from the crowd by including humor and personality in well written sentences, rather than just listing a bunch of stuff you’ve done.  While this post was written specifically for performers, the concept applies to just about any resume or piece of writing that sums up your life’s work and career goals.

The second post was a link at the bottom of the first post, and is even more radical than the first post.  In his post Why Bother Having a Resume, Seth Godin talks about being awesome enough in your work to eschew the resume altogether.  In other words, if you’re really all that, you should be able to prove it your work RIGHT NOW, not just list what you’ve done in the past.  Without a resume, you can show your worth with extraordinary letters of recommendation, well written blogs, or actual physical finished projects. I read this post, and I was like “Yeah!  That’s who I want to be!”  With my own professional resume, I’ve often worried that the employer might think I’m bluffing with my impressive list of expertise.  Worse yet, what if I actually AM bluffing?

I think I’ll combine both of these approaches and start with a more personal prose-based bio, with the goal of becoming resume-free down the road.

Brian and Stormtrooper

Career Ideas and Next Steps

I’ve established that I’m no longer content with an Information Technology career.  I suppose it’s possible that a shift in attitude, maybe some utopian working environment, or being surrounded by the right people might change my mind, but I’m fairly certain my next “thing” will be in a completely different field.  So, if not IT, then what?  Here are some possibile career ideas I’m considering.  I haven’t landed on anything yet – just have some ideas floating around in my head.  Forgive me if the categories aren’t consistent.  I’m just brainstorming here.

Oh, and before I get to the list, there’s another big factor I sometimes forget about:  people and relationships.  I need to have both in order to thrive.  I can only work so long in isolation.  I sometimes dream of creative careers that are largely void of human interaction like writing novels in some picturesque hideaway in the woods, but I know I wouldn’t last long in such conditions.  I burn out quickly when I’m shut off from people.  If I’m writing something or brainstorming new ideas, I usually try to find a public place like a coffee shop, just so I can have an occasional conversation between stints of heavy concentration.  This paragraph is really more for my own good, so that when I go back and re-read this, I’ll remember this about me.  So, with this out of the way, here are some new paths I’m considering.

Writing

I do enjoy writing, but could I really make a career out of it?  Do I have the dedication necessary to become one of the successful ones?  I think whatever I do for my next gig, writing will definitely be part of it – either professionally, or as an outlet.  I’ve read about people that are able to make very decent livings from blogging.  I love the idea of the freedom that would come with such a career:  working whenever and wherever I want, being my own boss, maybe traveling with my family while I work, but I do realize that these success stories take time, and only a very small percentage of bloggers ever get to this point.  I know it’s possible, and that’s exciting to me.  Getting there would be tough, but I’m fairly certain I could do it if I put my mind to it.  I might also consider copywriting, depending on the situation.  I’d LOVE to write comedy sketches or sitcom material for a living – I’ll talk more about that, below.  A friend recently suggested writing screenplays.  That’d be a hoot, but I know that market’s super saturated and I don’t think I know the right people yet.

Social Media / Marketing / Advertising

I think I’ve got the right combination of creative and analytical skills to fit somewhere into this. Social media work seems like a really natural fit, as I enjoy the fluid conversations that this advertising medium elicits, and the near-instant measurable results from social media efforts can be very rewarding.  Ideally, if I were to work in this field, I’d love to work as an independent consultant, managing the social media marketing efforts of several small to mid-sized companies.  Again, I don’t have much on my résumé that indicates that I’m qualified to do such work, but I know I have the aptitude.

Humor

Like writing, I want to utilize my sense of humor in any new direction I take.  And by that, I don’t just mean to maintain a sense of humor alongside of my work. I want to make humor a central characteristic of the work I do.  I love making people smile, helping them lift their eyes up out the muck of the hardness of life, bringing levity to otherwise tough situations.  It’s not just a childish game to play on the side.  Laughter is a reflection of the joy for which we were all created.  It eases tensions, breaks down communication barriers, and can help in the process of restoring relationships.  Humor is a part of who we were meant to be, and I take great pleasure in reminding people of this.

I’m currently involved in some comedy sketch writing with a friend, which has been very rewarding.  I dream of being on the writing staff of SNL, Conan O’Brien, or possibly a sitcom.  I don’t know that this is realistic to do with a family, but I think I would be good in that kind of role.  I’m also planning on taking some improv classes in the next month or two.  I’m not sure where that will lead, but I expect it will at the very least help increase my confidence, inspire any writing I do, and encourage me to take more risks in everyday life.  Comedy is just part of who I am.  I’m just now beginning to embrace this and explore possible outcomes, and I’m very excited about the possibilities.

Professional Brainstormer

Can one make a career out of brainstorming?  Because I love to brainstorm.  Is there such a thing as a professional idea-comer-upper?  I think I could do that.  My mind is always “outside of the box.”  Lock me in a room with a group of co-workers, task us with nothing more than listing a bunch of great ideas for eight hours, and I’m a happy man. Does this job exist?

Acting

I’m keeping this one in my back pocket as something I think I could do, but don’t really have much experience with it.  I’m hoping to explore some of my potential here as I take the improv classes.  Maybe voice acting, occasional commercials, or something like that.  Honestly, I’m not sure I have what it takes to act professionally, but it interests me, so I list it here.

Music

I’ve flirted with music as a career since college, but I’ve never put in the time to make a serious go at it.  I play drums in a couple of bands, and have just enough skills to not embarrass myself while singing at the local acoustic coffee house open mic night.  Perhaps something in concert promotion, band management, or even songwriting could work.  I have a feeling that making my musical hobby a career could suck the fun out of it, but I do still think about the possibilities.

I have several more ideas of some possible next steps.  These are just what’s sticking out to me right now as I write.  My biggest concern right now is figuring out how to make a transition.  I’ve waited for years for something to just fall in my lap, and I think I’m now ready to take some proactive steps to make something happen.  I’m just not sure what those steps are.

I’d love to get some feedback from others who’ve successfully made the transition into a new career.  What’d it take for you?  Who or what motivated you to stick with it?  Or maybe you tried and failed – I’d love to hear those stories, too.  What did you learn?  What would you do differently next time?  I’m especially interested in hearing from people with families.  I know, for instance, many people are able to somehow take time off of full-time work and go back to school while raising a family.  How the heck is that even possible?

I really do hope that writing out my thoughts here is helpful to others.  Maybe my words will encourage you to get off your duff and take some first steps.  Maybe you’ll just take comfort knowing that someone else is going through what you’re going through.

Thanks for reading.  Please leave a comment, below.