Balancing Act: A Creative Gal’s Guide To The Daily Grind

Balancing Act: A Creative Gal’s Guide To The Daily Grind

Tips + Tools Work

On one hand… you’ve got creativity running through your bloodstream. You think outside the box and see the world as one big art project waiting to happen. Whether you’re the kind of creative who writes, draws, sings, sews, photographs, or simply has a right-brained mind that just won’t quit, you have a unique way of looking at life that serves you in any situation.

On the other hand… a girl’s gotta eat. Five (or more) days a week, you do the work to pay the bills, and have a job you’re plugging away at – maybe even a full-blown career you’re carving out for yourself. You’re no stranger to the so-called daily grind: the traffic-jammed commute, the stressors of your job, the responsibilities that loom over your head as you hustle at work. Whether you are in love with your job or are just trying to get by, there’s one question most creative types have in common when it comes to the daily grind: do I have to give up my identity as an artist just to fit in?

Just because you’re a working girl doesn’t mean that you have to squash your creative impulses. If you’re not used to singing your own praises, this is a really good time to start: you have a special, visionary way of viewing the world that not only serves you, but serves all those around you.

Whether your daily grind is in an artistic field or not, here are four ways to honor your creative work, your 9-5 work…and still end the day feeling like you can do it all, just as you are:

• FIND THE LESSONS. If you’re the creative type, you probably love the process of learning and exploring new ideas or situations. Think back on when you were in school: each class was about learning something new, applying your knowledge, and then proving you’ve got it on lockdown. You might have had to play by the teacher’s rules in the classroom, but when it came to how you finished your homework or the way you studied for a test, that was all up to you. School, even though it’s usually about textbooks and facts, is actually the place a creative can shine.

Your daily work grind is exactly like going to school every day. Start to view each little project, meeting, task, or segment of your day as a lesson and ask yourself: what can I learn from this? If you’re always looking for the lessons, you’re always taking away something new, building your tool chest of skills and knowledge for whatever life throws at you, in or out of the office.

If you’re always looking for the lessons, you’re always taking away something new. Click To Tweet

• BE ALL THERE. This is one of my biggest tips when people ask me about staying focused while tackling multiple workloads. Oftentimes as creatives we spend time trying to do everything at once – we like to think that our creativity means we can and should be multitasking mavens. But have you ever noticed that when you’re focusing on all the things, you end up getting none of the things to the place you’d like them to be?

You might have a side creative project, another outlet outside of work where your artistry lives, or maybe your 9-5 involves a mix of creativity and strategy. Whatever your situation may be, make the lines between each project or pursuit crystal-clear for yourself. And be all there. Whatever job you are doing or task you are working on, give your 100% focus to that activity and that activity alone. You can’t be in two places at once, literally or figuratively. And by trying, you’re not only producing a fraction of your highest-quality work – you’re constantly reminding yourself that you’re not doing something you “should” be doing. Give that laser-like creative focus you’ve been blessed with to everything you do, one task at a time…even if what you’ve got in front of you seems tedious or out of your happiness-zone. You’ll gain immense satisfaction from knowing you gave it your all – and you’ll have a full tank of creative juices just waiting to be used on your next adventure once the first one’s done.

• REMEBER YOUR THROUGH LINE. Your through line is the common theme in everything you love and the common goal in everything you do. For those of us creatives who have both a “typical” job and a creative endeavour (see cautionary note here about using the terms Day Job and Side Hustle), it can sometimes feel like only the latter is allowed to speak to who we are and why we’re here. Determine your through line here, then ask yourself how you can implement it in whatever work you’re doing. Once you find your through line, it’s easier to see that being a creative isn’t so much about what you do but why and how you do it.

Being a creative isn't so much about what you do but why and how you do it. Click To Tweet

• SEE YOUR VALUE. You, Little Ms. Creative, are an out-of-the-box, solutions-oriented person. But it can be tough to remember that when the daily grind takes over. Whether you’re stuck in traffic, returning phone calls, filling out spreadsheets, or following rules to a T, sometimes it can seem like the working world is not set up to be all that kind to creative types like you.

What you’re forgetting is what an asset you are to your peers and colleagues. While facts and procedures are important, there is nothing more valuable that someone who can look at the big picture and offer up creative, innovative solutions or alternatives that transcend the day-to-day. Make it a goal to look at the day not as an obstacle you need to overcome, but an experience you get to shape simply by being you.



Liked this? Listen to it – along with more personal stories about being a daily grindin’ creative – here.



WANT Yourself:
Do you consider yourself a creative? How do you make your daily grind work for you, no matter what your daily grind looks like? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

#WANTwisdom: A Pragmatically Positive Guide For Writers + Creatives

#WANTwisdom: A Pragmatically Positive Guide For Writers + Creatives

Tips + Tools Work

Hey WANT peeps!

A weekend post – kind of fun and unexpected, right? I hope you’re sitting back and relaxing today, soaking in the last few hours before Monday rolls around.

I know that for me, Sundays are a time of very focused, grounded reflection and creativity, They’re when I get my best ideas, and when I’m able to look at the week (sometimes month, if I’m being ambitious) ahead with clear eyes and a soft gaze. Sundays are for me to reflect on who I am and who I want to be.

photo: creative start
photo: creative start

This week, I got to jam with Kit Steinkellner – an award-winning playwright and screenwriter who is also currently an editor at Hello Giggles.

Kit has been celebrated for so much in such a relatively short amount of time – a breadth of work some people take a lifetime to accomplish, she’s done before 30. She’s an inspiration to me and to so many other writers, not just because of her external success, but because of her relatable voice and special way of looking at the world. (if you haven’t read her interview yet, check it out here)

Humble, pragmatic, and spot-on, I asked Kit to share her five best pieces of advice for aspiring writers – which, honestly, can apply to anyone. Here’s what she said:


ON ART AND BUSINESS: Work on being the best artist you can be and the best salesman you can be. It’s 2015, you need to be both, but please try not to get the two mixed up.

ON SPEAKING TO YOUR AUDIENCE: Write the book you want to read, the movie you want to see, the story you want to hear.

ON THE STRUGGLE: Every writer you love to pieces had a hard time. It’s okay to struggle. You’re in good company.

ON PREDICTING THE TRENDS: Do not worry about the marketplace. The world doesn’t know what it wants next.

ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL: You can’t control whether or not someone will like your work. Here are some things you can control: working hard, showing up on time, being kind, writing thank you notes whenever you get help.


I know, for me, I sometimes forget that “the struggle” is universal – we hear stories about the tough times, long hours, and writers block after the fact instead of when people are still in it. It can be tough to remind yourself that where you are is exactly where so many have been – and frankly, probably still are, just in a different incarnation.

A few things that help me stay productive and focused on a positive, forward moving direction?

A JOURNAL OR NOTEBOOK YOU LOVE. I’ve been through so many notebooks and journals and then given up on them because they’re what works for someone else, not for me. You’ve got to find what works for you. I know that mini-notebooks aren’y my thing, and neither are clean, blank pages. I’ve got a hard-cover, ruled Moleskine I adore, though. Sure it’s a bit more difficult to fit into my purse and a bit heavier than your average paperback version. But I actually love that it’s a bit more substantial, that it’s got lines to help me put structure to my sentences and ideas, and how its neat little elastic band prevents it from flailing open and pages getting smushed (if Moleskines are your thing, you can get your own for a pretty reasonable price here).

Moleskin notes + papers I've stuffed between pages.  Also, good reminder - no need to get too tied to labels when it comes to your work. Life is meant to be full and varied. Be it ALL.
Moleskin notes + papers I’ve stuffed between pages. Also, good reminder – no need to get too tied to labels when it comes to your work. Life is meant to be full and varied. Be it ALL.

STRUCTURE + RHYTHM. No one but you needs to know about this one – but having a sense of structure and rhythm are key to your sanity and follow-through, no matter what creative work you’re doing. When I feel at a loss for good ideas or (on the opposite end of the spectrum) completely scatterbrained, I come back to my core principles of WANT and the way I’ve structures a typical WANT week/month.

If a calendar system helps you, great! (I personally use a combination of 30 Boxes, a big ol’ desk calendar, and my Google Cal – did you know that you can get G-Cal to text you before a big event or to-do?) But even just a general sense of what kinds of things you’re producing and when you let each of them live is a lifesaver in those rough patches.

ENGAGEMENT + INTUITION. If you’re doing something creative and actually putting it out into the world, get a keen sense of how you can be of service. Like Kit said, the world doesn’t know what it wants next, and there’s no use trying to be everything to everyone or predict what’s going to be trending next. However. you can take a look at how people are responding to your work, exactly what they are responding to, and analyze the “why” behind it.

How are you connecting with the core of someone else’s being? What about you is striking a chord in others? There is something unique about you that resonates with others. Even when you think you have an idea of it, keep digging. Keep searching. It’s the quest for connection and purpose – and how you engage in the process – that will keep you authentic no matter what the marketplace says it wants. Because the secret, I think, is that it just wants to connect.


WANT Action Plan:
What helps you stay productive? Any genius finds or strategies I (and we!) need to know about?