A sentiment I hear often is, “If you can do anything besides write, do that.” Substitute any other form of artistic endeavor for “write” and you’ll hear this advice echoed throughout many communities.
I believe this wholeheartedly, but not in the way I think it is normally intended.
Too often, I fear, beginning artists fall under the idea that they must be making a living solely doing their art to be considered a professional. Worse, they fall into the trap of constructing elaborate rituals they need to observe in order to be creative. Stealing a half-hour to create something before your mind-numbing day job is impossible if you have to go through the process of making a cup of tea “just so” before you begin.
So, an established artist telling them that they should do things other than art if possible sounds suspiciously like an invitation to quit. Perhaps that’s even the usual intention. I’ve never asked. It could be selling the idea that true artists are extremely rare and special. I’ve no doubt that they are. However, the idea that a true artist must be incapable of any sort of work outside of a creative field diminishes their power instead of celebrating it.
If you view yourself as someone who can only perform creative functions, you put yourself at the mercy of the market price for art. Often, that price is not very high. If you have talents outside of the creative sphere, you have the ability to sustain yourself and produce the art you wish to make on your own terms. Embrace this.
This isn’t to say that if your circumstances allow you to spend your life making tea just-so before you create that you should stop. You are where all of us wish to be. You don’t need my advice.
However, if you are struggling to make rent each month and can do anything besides write, do that. If you can do anything besides star in a commercial for product you can’t stand, do that. If you can do anything besides design a logo for free because “great exposure” was promised, do that.
If you can do anything besides create, do that.
Additionally, keep creating.