The challenge of creating a blog that sings

whether music video

By Mark Schaefer

As I write these words, it is 5:36 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

Am I crazy?

No, I’m excited.  After spending a week focused on consulting, teaching, and speaking projects, I finally have time to devote to this marvelous creative outlet, this opportunity to connect with you, through my blog.  When I finally have that quiet time to write, I am ready to LEAP to that keyboard and create.

This is also the enigma, and perhaps greatest challenge of blogging … at least for me, and I suspect for most of you. How do you stay fresh and allow time for a creative process when you still have bills to pay?  How do you hold down a job and create a blog that sings?

I attended a fascinating lecture this week that really pinpointed this problem for me.  I spent about two hours listening to a person who is on the opposite end of the creative spectrum.

Creative immersion

jena serbu artJena Serbu is creative for a living.  She works on dark, surreal paintings.  Jena sculpts. She writes plays and movie scripts.  She directs, produces and edits films. She combines all of these talents in stunning music videos.  Her latest art project is mailing 365 post cards to friends and strangers she plucks from the phone book.

Jena has the rich and rare opportunity of being completely immersed in her creative journey every minute, every day. She leaps from project to project and idea to idea in this seamless frenzy of activity.  I’m not sure where the money comes from to support all this, but I know that in part, wealthy patrons provide grants and residency programs that allow her to live in the journey, instead of aiming at a financial destination.

I felt jealous. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a chance to simply create without concern … even for a few weeks?

You and I do not have the luxury of submerging ourselves in a constant creative journey. To create my “art” on this blog, I have to work from point to point, grabbing time whenever I can (even before dawn on a Saturday!) if I am to unleash my ideas on the world.

To block out the extended time necessary to write a book, I have to take a serious short-term financial hit to my business.

Creating is a luxury

Creating art is a luxury.  It’s way up at the top on that Maslow Hierarchy of Needs chart you studied in school. First you have to find a way to eat, take care of your family, and pay the bills before you can dabble in a creative process.

And while blogging is important to my business (and yours!) it is, in fact, a highly creative endeavor that is not unlike composing a little song or making a video.  My son is in the music business and we often compare notes on the very similar creative processes we experience.

The problem is, it’s pretty darn challenging to be creative on demand, to be limited by a “point to point” creative process. We have to squeeze our art into the edges of the frenzied demands of life … after that last customer phone call, after mowing the yard, after putting the kids to bed,

So to all you weekend bloggers out there, I want to thank you, encourage you, and give you a virtual round of applause. This is hard work, isn’t it?

But I am also realizing that even if I cannot be a continuous creative buzzsaw like Jena, I still have to find time for random inspiration, playfulness, and new conversations that lead to creative insight.  Short of finding a wealthy patron for my blog, I am going to have to actually “schedule” creative exploration as a business activity! This is the entry fee for a seat at the blogging table these days, I’m afraid.

Can I pull this off, or will I be drawn back into the daily hurricane every time I try? Time will tell. But I would be really interested in hearing about how you are handling this. My fellow bloggers and artists … how do you run a business, run a life, and still find time to create your beautiful song?

Top illustration: Still frame from the music video “Whether.” Song by Julia Othmer, video directed by Jena Serbu.

Side illustration: Artwork from Ippise Jones book series by Jena Serbu.

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