Embracing creativity over pursuing money

It’s very easy to get caught up in the easy exchange of effort and time against an amount of money.But we must also acknowledge that our time and energy are more precious than the money we receive.

We believe we have options most of the time, given the circumstances we experience.
Our heads are “swollen” with the illusion of material abundance and security and the only tangible power we believe we have comes from money, a value that everyone seems to enjoy.

Most often, you’ll observe that landlords would rather call the police if you’re not paying the rent, rather than believe in the bigger picture of your creative schemes.
Money will come, I just need time!“

We then doubt our vision and our creative process, because we know we are “capable” of holding a job which would take up most of our time and energy. If we give in to the idea of taking a job, it goes against everything our vision and belief system stands for. It also makes clearly abundant that seeking a job is a clear translation of the fact that doubt rules your life, rather than a confident belief that what you are striving for will make sense in the long run.

Although this “hold on until the storm passes” attitude, based of beliefs, also has downsides. And one doesn’t decide to be creative, they simply are. It would be far easier to chose a good University, passing a diploma, getting a “secure job” and working until you can kick your shoes off and live by the beach… But that doesn’t work for a creative. Being creative has downsides one must acknowledge and accept first and foremost, because they define how the individual functions. If I was to say “FLY!”, you’d look at me and think I was bonkers. This is because Flying isn’t part of how you function as a human-being. The distinction of how an individual functions also applies for people.
We are all singular and no two people are alike, even if they are identical twins!

As a creative, I often encounter a downside with jobs, but most specifically any action or intention to directly pursue money. I cannot keep it up, it saturates me beyond sanity. My creative juices stagnate and I feel numb. I start to see the cogs in the machine of how the business works and it gets as repetitive as Taylorism.

The blind pursuit for money isn’t sustainable for me. My nervous system seems to be a highly sensitive tool. One too sensitive for the ups and downs of the markets, the hustle and bustle of everyday jobs or anything which doesn’t require inner growth?

It does however require me seeking to understand things in my own way, at my own speed. Letting curiosity and interest drive me towards a personal comprehension of such and such focus, undisturbed by external deadlines or the possibility of being fired or expelled if the results I discover aren’t enough.

All of this means that, jumping through hoops to please a hierarchy doesn’t work well for creatives. Success and fame and anything related to “making it” in the world,
simply aren’t compatible with sensitive independents with the need to go at their own pace and discover the fruits of their own path. Pursuing money head on will simply result in being miserable. What creatives do need to pursue though is any form of quality creative outputs and developing inner confidence around their expressive skills.

As an introvert pointing out the difficulties I experience, agoraphobia comes to mind. Not that I am scared of anyone in particular, but that my nervous system gets triggered simply by going shopping for a couple of hours. I get home, put the shopping away and get into bed. My body has considerably tensed up since only a few hours prior when I was leaving the house. And this is a recurring pattern I get anytime there is a social event, or simply being seen outside the house. Hence why I run at night.

I am not able to “Force” things, and force an outcome to “become” what I want it to be.
To go out and get it, demands more energy than I have and I’ll end up sleeping more than regular people.

As much as this leads to energetic despair, there are solutions which can be remedied as long as we have freewill and the capacity to endure moments of doubt.

And where the hell is my freewill in all of this?!

Having a strong will, being told what to do can prove difficult. Though, there are two sides to not wanting to be told what to do. The first can stem from fear and often goes a little like “Because someone in my past has hurt me and somehow they were in a position to tell me what to do, and they abused that power. Now I don’t listen to anyone, because only I know best.” We can thank our parents we are so strong…
Or, we have a strong vision and from repeated experience we learn to cancel out the noise everyone around us tends to make while they project their fears, and negative experiences upon the outcome of our path (which is an entirely different one with different skills, different beliefs and different perceptions…).

Though having a strong will and being creative can seem incredible, this also has a downside. I cannot force myself if I don’t want to do something. As I’ve learn’t to listen to my higher self and to listen to my body and what I feel. I often find that doing something I don’t want to do, is more reflective of my intuition telling me not to do it, than it is me being lazy. But this leads to a larger questions…

Why don’t I want to do that specific thing? Is it a fear or actual conscious decision making? And Are my fears ruling the outcomes of what I am striving for?

A while back I read a good quote, and if I remember it correctly, it resembles something like:

” The need for radical independence comes from trauma/ or unrecognized hurt.”
I’m probably butchering the quote, but it goes something like this.

I have the knowledge in mind, I have the understanding, and I can take action upon what I want to do. Though when it comes to being consistent, my nervous system sends me to bed beyond stressed. It’s a nightmare. Being locked in a prison of beliefs I cannot seem to alter. And believe me, I spend all of my time focused on digging deep into my belief system to understand why I’m the way I am.

How can I change my physiological beliefs in order to change the outcome of how my body reacts? And is that even possible?

A few years back, I read about NLP and The game. The idea of practicing something entirely counter-intuitive gave the actors of the practice outcomes and entirely different results than they were initially getting had they not engaged in it. Though this begs more questions:

Do we have a natural, base-line state, which is normal and comfortable for us? A state, which, once we let go, is sustainable. Not a state which, if we stop maintaining effort, crumbles away and leaves us with what we initially had (which counters the concept of effort.).

In order to discover if I had a baseline state, I decided to go find my rock bottom,
which I like to call walking through fire. I wanted to find my lowest point to see what I was made of, and ultimately what would stick.Walking through fire has the characteristics of burning anything or anyone who isn’t supposed to be in our life.

This can also translate as a process in order to see who’s real or not. I believe everyone goes through it at some point. Though, I also believe that the earlier we go through it, the easier life is in the long run. Imagine learning to walk when you’re old as opposed to when you’re young, if you fall your bones would break and the recovery time would take forever. It’s better to discover if we have a soul early on in life rather than the 10 last minutes of our life. It makes for a more harmonious journey.

And even though it opens your eyes to what works and what doesn’t, thus cutting away the superficial unproductive relations, activities, paths, we once thought we needed, but no longer do. It opens up a more adapted, harmonious, peaceful approach to living our life, in sync with who we are.

To the external eye, the idea of narrowing down our opportunities and enlarging our depths in specific areas can seem near stupid. Especially in a world where More is admired, and less is just… well less. But this perception doesn’t work for everyone, especially those of us who enjoy more minimalist type lifestyles.

So what can we do to survive in a world which wants more, when what you create is enough, but not for others?

Hatching down on one’s vision and holding tight to that north star can do wonders.
Obviously, going down the rabbit hole and uncovering our Pandora’s box free’s us from living in illusion, but also disables the generic life “everyone” else seems to have. We become specialists about ourselves. After narrowing down what suits us better, doing anything and everything doesn’t fit anymore. This is a good thing. It’s like having a generic supermarket suit and a tailor made Italian suit. One fits perfectly and it even makes us feel good as a result, while the other makes us look shabby and out of place.
It comes down to consciousness.

With the narrowing of external opportunities, other dimensions open up within between our ears. Which, in contrast, opposes anything forced and unflowing. In other words, trimming off anything which doesn’t enable flow. Meaning, having the ultimate circumstances for peak condition productivity. So, cutting away the trivial stuff which doesn’t make 100% sense and align with who we are is actually good if we want to be productive.

I’m all for Forcing circumstances in my favor, but every time I do I seem to make my life worse. It’s when I don’t do anything at all and let life happen that my life gets better.
I.e. Letting go of control./ focussing on what I’m curious about/ doing what is natural for me.

All of this enables creativity… it helps to materialize / manifest circumstances. It also confirms that supporting my vision is more important than brute force, to confirm to others that I’m doing something. By investing time, energy and even money into creativity and believing in myself, I’m almost garanteed to succeed in creating an art through my prefered medium of expression.

Then it comes down to external factors. Other people’s expectancies and how much time you have to be in an illimited fram of mind without others enforcing what they want you to do on you. It comes down to protecting your personal space and attention.

Miles Davis, a wildly reknown jazz artist, became bitter as he became a Rockstar. In becoming so he could no longer simply create his art. The subtle nuance here is that, once you become a commodity, or once you become a product, your creativity is no longer demanded, it’s simply about production and execution rather than the creative process. Which translates as your endurance being more important than your individual spark. The repetition of something meant to only last the time of its initial experience drains all form of emotion from it.

You know when you find a song that makes you feel a certain way, and you love the transcending bubble of euphoria you experience in it’s discovery. But, then you repeat it over and over and over, and after a week the song makes you nautious.

The letting go of emotion is a onetime thing. The process is the same everytime.
But the emotion its self is different due to it being more of less deep within you,
and different synaptic connections at different levels attached to things more or less important to you.

This leads to the inevitable conclusion that individuality and authenticity cannot be captured and reproduced without losing creative magic. In order to create art one has to be unknown, invisible or at least not pressurized and forced to produce results by any external influence. Which is the exact opposite of a job. Creativity thrives in freedom.

Another idea comes to mind where Jim Carry expresses he wishes everyone can be rich and famous to see that being rich isn’t the solution. And many other examples come to mind.

Adam Westbrook in his Vimeo micro-series narrates the beautiful concept of Painting in the dark. I found these videos around 7 years ago, while I was still in school. Westbrook describes that in order to create a masterpiece, one has to be willing to not have any recognition for a long time. In “Range” by David Epstein, Vincent Van Gogh, spent years being unsuccessful trying a vast number of things before finding painting as his preferred medium of expression and near invisible as failures in the eyes of society.
Even Leonardo DaVinci had this process. Where he’d accumulate work over time, only to look back and see the extent of what he was to create next.

The idea that something is an obligation and forcefully done, takes away the magic in the creation process. We become somewhat dependent on performing at a standard others set, rather than letting the creativity and inspiration surge on it’s own, when its ready.

In a previous post, I explained how the quality of the information and the quantity mattered just as much, if not more than the output. Just like when we eat food, eating quality food will give us better health and well-being. Force feeding our minds, just like ducks are forcefed for foigras, leads us to over-saturate and produce on time,
but not at the quality we’d hope for, or with the well-being we seek.

Creation needs an subtle ecosystem. In order to preserve this micro-climate of creativity, the ecosystem needs to function in a rather specific way. In Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains the idea of creating a perfect environment where the capacity to be in flow is promoted and supported. Without it, flow gets disturbed from external circumstances. The capacity to create and be inspired is tampered with. As if living in a bubble of creativity. The creator environment must meet specific criteria.

Though, this criteria may change for everyone, I need heat, silence, air, electricity,
Wi-fi, privacy and space. Comfort doesn’t hurt but won’t stop me from ideation.
In idea creation, I generally need to be doing anything but searching for ideas or work.

Having said this, the pressure of having a day job can be disturbing to the fragile and delicate ecosystem of creation and lead the creative’s ideation process to get stressed and produce a lesser result than that of a natural process. Especially if the creative is sensitive.

A lot of writers tend to express Seth Godins idea of “Just Shipping“. Though, I find this process to be a forceful abstraction from where I stand on a creative level. I need to let my curiosity wonder. I follow my curiosity and it leads me down rabbit holes which hold nuggets of information I wouldn’t be able to use had I not followed the childlike curiosity to discover. Then, when I’m out of that creative mindset, I sit and edit patiently for hours on end, until I’m satisfied with the results of my ponderations and criticism. That’s grit.

After reading A technique for producing ideas by James Webb Young in my early twenties. I discovered how my personal creation process functioned.

1) Research:

Deep need to seek information related to current problem/subject. Digging into subjects. Reading. Listening. Etc. The sponge process where my mind imbibes every possible new idea and concept I didn’t know about yet. I do this over a period of time. I compound overtime and I then reach a…

2) Stagnation point.

Where my mind has had enough of researching. This is the time where I’m supposed to let go. Like Sherlock Holms or Dr. House, the process of searching is the same. They have an intense period of research where it gets serious. Then something gets intense and they…

3) Let go.

I personally go for a run or a bike ride or a walk in order to change my mind.
I also get these moments in the shower too… Dr. House plays with a ball, or gets caught up with something entirely different like speaking to his friend Wilson and while bouncing ideas of Wilson, House gets his “AHA moment“. The same goes for Sherlock Holmes, a case comes up, they do a little research, gather clues, then get caught up in something trivial which seems entirely opposed to the case and “AHA!


Once you have your AHA moment, write the core idea(s) down and let them flow onto paper. Or if you’re unfortunate like I am write them down on your phone while you’re cycling as to not forget them. When I’m fortunate enough to be at home,
I create a relaxed environment where I have heat, some music which appeals to me, and completely forget about the world. The music often gets me to enjoy and not have the impression of working. In that moment I write down all enlightened ideas which come to me.

5) Develop: Write drunk, edit sober.” Ernest Hemingway.

Your enlightened ideas are maybe brilliant, but you also have to transform them into coherent understandable language for other people. My creative language is that of ideas, that doesn’t mean my ideas are directly translated into a language everyone else understands. Which leads to correcting the content of my thoughts into consumable information people can understand and sometimes making it a little longer with examples so people can grasp what I’m on about.

If anything, the creative process tends toward letting our mind do all the work and if we could just get out of the way… I often find that I have to restrict myself from social expression with friends and even family in order to transfer the need to express myself into writing form. If I have access to too many friends, I get caught up with what they want to do. Expressing my ideas to them becomes hot air. While I cut off from people, my only medium of expression is writing or maybe some form of audio, which makes for better creativity and capturing ideas.

If you liked this article, drop a comment and tell me what you thought.

Here are Adam Westbrooks micro series on “painting in the dark”

One Reply to “Embracing creativity over pursuing money”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: