The business of creativity

I’ll get it out of my system soon enough, but I’m working on a project around the business of creativity, and I decided to share a few of my thoughts. Most of this is tailored towards writing and writers, but it applies to most creative endeavors.

I know a lot of creative people. A lot.

The first thing I want to say, don’t become a writer to become rich and famous. In fact, if that’s your plan, run far, run fast, and get a job doing almost anything.

If you’re going to create, create for yourself. Not your audience. And know it’s a painful process to create.

As soon as you put yourself out to the world, you are going to have haters, detractors, and critics. And that’s just in your friends and family. Wait until you meet the internet trolls. If you’re going to be public and creative, you’d better put on your armor and start growing thicker skin.

Not to mention agents, publishers, editors, and everyone else in the industry.

Get used to rejection.

Still reading?

Good.

Now comes what may be the hardest part. Creating not only for fun, but (hopefully) profit.

I’m going to write in more detail about these pieces, but here’s the first thing that’s hardest to get over. That piece of work you poured your heart and soul into, and ultimately bled into existence?

It’s a product, a commodity. Nothing more. Just like Coke or airlines. And your customers have a large number of choices, and you want to thank them every time they take a trip through your work.

Did I just call your baby out, and say it’s nothing special among the herd?

Yep. I’m an asshole.

The truth is, it is special. It’s borne of all that you are, and the level of work you put into it. Just like all of your competitors. If you intend to sell your work and be a commercial enterprise, you are a business. Just like the quickie mart.

And you want to be able to tell your customers, “Thank you, come again.”

I might have been watching a little too much of the Simpsons.

But hey, almost everyone knows that tagline, and heard Apu’s voice when they read that. And The Simpson’s has been a huge commercial success.

One that Matt Groenig came up with at the last minute and pitched because he didn’t want to hand over control of his baby rabbits. (See if you remember his original strip.)

So now that I’ve been a heartless bastard, here’s what you need to think about when you start down this path:

  • Am I ready to have my work praised and criticized?
  • Am I ready to be a business, keeping track of sales, expenses, and do taxes?
  • Am I ready to invest the time and money it’ll take to run my business?

If the answer is yes to these, then get ready for even more questions. Not today, but soon.

And don’t give up. No matter what, create for yourself, and the only one that has to be happy with your work, is you.

And your publisher.

And your audience.

And while you ask yourself what you have gotten into, be ready to use that experience in your art.

Stop binge watching TV and go create!

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