How does one sustain the Creative Life?

It’s been a week since my attendance in the Asian Publishing Convention in Kuala Lumpur, and my head’s still spinning with ideas. While I was there, I was taking notes, capturing “lightbulb moments”, networking, and, overall, thinking of the bigger picture for myself and my career. The year ahead will be a major turning point for me, as I’ll be ending my four-year stint in government and will pretty much be starting a new chapter in my professional life after June. My question for myself is: What should this next chapter be about?

As I’m thinking of this, I’m also being overtaken by the constant urge to do something creative—and to create something myself. I’m snapping photos, creating designs on Photoshop (and I’m no designer, mind you), doodling, reading up on creative start-ups… I tell you, my mind’s abuzz right now with idea after idea, and it’s getting to be a tornado in here. Having a brain that’s THIS overflowing is not always a good thing, as it’s distracting me from my actual tasks. It’s exciting, overwhelming, and worrisome all at the same time.

It’s clear to me that I want to spend the rest of my life in the “creative zone.” I am in my element when I’m in situations and environments where I’m creating or building something—be it a project, a workshop, an event, a story, a book, a campaign, a physical product, a movement… anything! I suppose I’m a very tactile person that needs to be constantly building something from scratch—but I’m also a visual person (as you may have noticed from my photos in this blog). I’m always looking for ideas that have visual impact, that can capture hearts, minds, and imaginations with just an image here, a design element there, or a vision of a desired future. However, I’m neither a designer nor a visual artist; I’m a writer. Hence, it’s clear to me that the things and ideas I build will need to involve words and ideas—but they have to be much more than that.

So the bigger question for me now is: How do I design and build a life around this constant need to create? More importantly: How do I sustain the Creative Life? How do I make sure that I am able to fulfill or achieve the elements in my Happiness Tree while building a career around creativity?

In the Creativity Zone | Collage by NTZ

Here’s another thing I’d like to add to the mix: as someone who wants to be a creative entrepreneur more than just an artist (or just any employee in any bureaucracy or organization), I definitely would like to stand out from the pack. (Who doesn’t, right?) I don’t want to get into something just for the sake of doing it; I don’t want to be one of those run-of-the-mill types who just get by. No—for me, it’s got to be about groundbreaking, trailblazing ideas, innovation, disruption, and so on.

*Sigh.* I am quite restless, and I suppose I am part of what Fast Company calls “Generation Flux.”* I thrive best in situations where I have to create something out of nothing, create order out of chaos—where I have to learn a new skill, be flexible, multi-task, and adapt quickly in unpredictable situations. But, as my Happiness Tree clearly shows me, I also crave financial security. I’m already of the age when I’d like to start building my own family soon (and that in itself is a creative endeavor!), and I’d like to be able to provide for myself and my family in ways that I had not experienced while growing up.

All these questions in themselves require a lot of creativity, so I’m excited about the ideas that I’ll be processing for myself within the next few months. But I’m sure some of you may have experienced this dilemma in one form or another—haven’t you? 🙂 If so, let’s keep the conversation going and trade ideas. I’d love to hear/read about how YOU have been processing your own questions and solutions; and I’d love to share here insights that can help others like us navigate this crazy but exciting terrain for themselves.

If you don’t mind, I’ll be spending the next few days here in Little Rich Girl posting excerpts of material that I like within this theme. If you’ve got links, anecdotes, or content to share, do send them my way so we can all learn from each other.

And before I go, here’s something from The Artist’s Way at Work that I hope can fuel our week:

“Creative emergence is not a linear process. The sun setting in the west lights the mountain’s flank to the east. Taking time to play brings a sense of play into work. Creativity is tidal. We must both deepen and become more shallow in order to deepen again. Time-outs—deliberate frivolity—bring to our work life renewed passion, vigor, and inspiration.”

I have been “deliberately frivolous” this past week, and it’s brought a lot more inspiration—but also many more questions—into my life. Let’s hope the answers to these questions start revealing themselves soon!

*Generation Flux: “a psychographic, not a demographic—you can be any age and be GenFlux. Their characteristics are clear: an embrace of adaptability and flexibility; an openness to learning from anywhere; decisiveness tempered by the knowledge that business life today can shift radically every three months or so…” (“Secrets of the Flux Leader” by Robert Safian, in Fast Company, November 2012 print issue)

P.S. Want to share answers, links, and other content that you find interesting? Send in your email through 🙂


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