If you run a creative business, whether you’re a wedding photographer, fibre artist, jewelry maker, or copywriter, you are creating for other people.
Perhaps, like me, your business started out as a hobby where you created just to create. There weren’t many anxieties of “what if no one likes this” because it didn’t matter. I was creating for me and the only person I had to please was myself.
Now, it’s a bit different.
People pay me to create which is a wonderful and amazing thing. But the dynamics of my creativity have altered.
As a creative freelancer, I am hired to fulfill the needs of my client. Rather than creating purely for my own joy, I am creating to fit the brief of another person. This isn’t a bad thing, but it has shifted the focus from my direct inner creative needs to perhaps limiting myself in an effort to please other people through my work and remain within my niche. (I’ll write more about niching and my choices around it in the near future)
Even though I love my jobs and feel gratitude for being supported to pursue my creative endeavours, the support occasionally comes with a price.
For me, that price was a feeling of restlessness. A desire to do something more, to branch out and expand but feeling stuck inside this bubble that I created.
My answer and the way I found myself out of this trap I had put myself in came to me when I was visiting one of my best friends in the States. She helped me become aware that the reason I had lost my creative spark was because I didn’t create for myself anymore. I was always creating for others.
On a whim, we found ourselves in a craft store on a Friday night just before they were about to close. We bought a couple of props and our creative vision began to form and build together. I felt excited.
The next day we took the following photographs. We created them for us with no other agenda than to allow our creative juices to flow. I keep them now as a reminder to myself that when I start feeling stuck or uninspired, I know I need to take a step back and focus on my personal creativity.
I never really thought of personal creative projects as a form of self care. A way to nourish and nurture myself and by extension my business.
If you feel like you’re in a rut with your business, maybe see if you can make some time for a personal creative project. It doesn’t have to be anything big or grand. Just something that you create for you and no one else.
For some inspiration, I’ve asked a few other creatives to share something they created for them that was different from their usual work. And maybe if you’ve done something, you can share your story in the comments?
“I just felt like everything I had was going on everyone else and I had no space left for myself. Not even a bath 😂 so creating something physical and something for our home, something I could see, was very therapeutic!” – Charlotte, Charlotte Rawles Photography
“I run a crochet and sewing business and I now do a self portrait project for myself on my instagram. The only link between it and my business is that I use my yarn to help me portray other characters.” – Rebecca, The Pigeon’s Nest
“I am trying to reinspire myself by shooting more portraits of people I find interesting. The full shoot is here.” – Laura, Babb Photo
“After turning my photography hobby into a skilled profession, it feels all too easy to loose sight of why I stared in the first place. Creating for myself reminds me of that why, and helps improve my skill set in unexpected ways. Going on a street photography workshop recently with The Photoweekender has helped relight the spark of why I do this and pushed me creatively.” – Phil, The Dignums
“I create historically accurate clothing simply for me and to give me a break from my work. Simply making these garments is a labour of love, and relaxes me in the evening.” – Aimee, Mint Cake Club