Monday, August 26, 2013

8/27/13—Keeping Your Creative Passion Alive

Today's Draw: The Ace of Crows in the What to Use in the Future position from the Badger's Forest Tarot and the Deck of 1000 Spreads. Are you a professional creative person? Are you a hobbiest who's in a bit of a rut? Could you use something to rekindle the fires of your creative passion?

Nobody ever asks me how a sensitive creative person such as myself has survived being a writer in the brutal world of advertising for 27 years. So I'm going to assume it's because you're all too shy. :D

Seriously, though, most creatives my age have moved out of the bullpen and into positions with less writing and more authority by this time in their career. Of course that's the natural progression of the career, but it also switches up the kinds pressures that are on you. You still have deadlines, but not as many. You don't have as many critical eyes on your work. In some ways you have more pressure and in other ways you don't. And the higher up you get, the less you get to write. In fact, most creative directors don't even write (or do art) anymore. 

On one hand, I wanted to be a creative director and rise to the top of my field. But on the other hand, I loved writing too much. So when I became a freelance writer 17 years ago, it also meant making a choice—move toward the more privileged life of a creative director or continue to sweat from project to project under the critical eyes of everyone that matters in your professional life as a writer. I chose to remain a writer, albeit under my own terms. 

I made this piece for more modest showing in my bathroom.
If it's not evident from all my blog posts, I have a passion for writing. I do it all day long and I then I do it as a hobby in my spare time. I believe the only way I've been able to maintain my passion in such a critical and cruel (and fun and rewarding) profession such as advertising is because of a commitment I made to myself maybe 15 years ago. 

Despite the fact that I had become self employed and had clients who appreciated me and had more autonomy and trust placed in me, it was getting hard to keep loving my career. It's just a fact of the job that you will create things you love only to have them either reviled or hacked apart by others. It's also a fact that not every project is exciting or offers an opportunity for you to really show your chops. But every once in a while you'll grab the brass ring and a beloved creation slips through the cracks relatively unscathed and that's what you live for. But the older you get, frankly, the less satisfying the taste of those small victories. 

This is the back of a felted wool tarot bag
I made for a friend. It depicts "snake tree", a
tree on her farm. 
So now it's time to get to the point of today's entry—you simply must find a creative outlet in your life that is only for you. The creator of the Badger's Forest says the Ace of Crows is about a new passion. And that's what you need to bring into the future with you. 

Fifteen years ago, I realized that I needed to create things that were just for me. And, by that, I mean answerable only to my own scrutiny. Done solely at my own impetus and in my own time. Over the years I've created tarot bags, stained glass, paintings, fiber name it. My passions for these things are sometimes fleeting. And that's ok. I answer only to myself. And if anyone out there owns any of these creations, it's not because you asked for it or bought it. It's because I was moved to create it for you from the center of my being. These things can't be purchased or requested. They must come from the heart. 

In this manner, I've managed to get enough creative satisfaction to feed those times of lean creative opportunity in my career. And let me tell you, after all these years of creating for others for money, it's a beautiful thing to create simply for the joy of creating. Which is why I won't do it for money, obligation or on request. 

I made this tarot valise to carry decks to my teaching gigs.
This blog, in fact, is one of those expressions. I've been writing it for three years now, six days a week. And never once have I cared about whether people read it or make comments. That's not the currency that fuels my passion. It's the process itself. And it's how I've had the stamina and discipline to write nearly 1000 blog posts in a row. 

Twenty-seven years ago I turned one of my passions over to the world of commerce, recognition and supply and demand. I've never regretted it. And I still manage to love doing it. All of that is owed to the passions I keep for myself. Professional creative people have to find a way to keep their passion alive or they won't last the marathon. And it doesn't matter whether you do it well (I suck at some of the stuff I love to do) or whether others understand or approve. All that matters is that it gives you a new reason to greet each morning with your spirit in tact. 


  1. Tierney - I knew that you were a good writer and creator, but I had no idea that your skills extended quite so far! I absolutely adore your valise - what an excellent idea!!

    I'm not nearly as creative as I used to's as if my tyres have gone flat! I need to get things moving again in as many areas as takes my fancy. So what if I'm not brilliant at any of it, it's the healing of the spirit!!! Ali x

  2. This post reminded me of a conversation I had this weekend with friends. We talked about the concept of flow - of doing activities that so entrance and challenge and delight you that you lose track of time. I think this is what you're talking about, finding things that keep your creative juices flowing, that you enjoy just because. For me, that's part of the definition of living a happy life :)