One of the biggest challenges for anyone earning a freelance living creatively is balance; balancing art with business can be a daily discipline you always work on, but never fully master.
Every designer experiences those rare internals when imagination seems boundless – ripe to bursting with fresh new ideas that stream by you so fast that you practically wear yourself out trying to get it all down. It’s almost like being under a magic spell. Your imagination is stoked, and you’re able to work long hours without really minding. You spring out of bed before dawn eager to return to your freelance work, knowing that you are your own boss. In fact, you’re so blissfully engaged in creative expression, you’re like a little child at play, having so much fun that you lose track of time.
Then, there are the dry spells. Some days you’re stuck for ideas. You’ve got a full calendar, a solid client base and a list of deadlines on your shoulders. The wastebasket is full of “meh” ideas you crumpled in frustration. You stare off in space wondering, “Where’s the fun? When did the “free” go out of freelance design?” The answer is; the moment you chose to make money at what you love.
Face it: Creativity (freelance or not) seems to flows best when it’s allowed to flow freely. Business, on the other hand, needs boundaries and balancing the two can seem like drudgery at times. That is, of course, if you lose touch with your spontaneously creative inner child. Keeping your nose to the grindstone is a priority, but on the other hand, too much time in the cubicle (or “veal-fattening pen”) can narrow your creative vision and block your flow of fresh ideas. Does your workload make you feel guilty about taking time to rejuvenate? Can you really afford NOT to?
Native American wisdom teaches that when you’re on a vision quest, take a new path home. New ideas are just around the corner. You’ll wonder how you missed them. Rather than returning to your usual haunts, dare to sip your latte in a bookstore a mile from your norm. Often, all you need is a brief change of scenery to jump-start that tired imagination. Smile at a stranger you meet in line. Network – make one new acquaintance each day. Who knows, you might form a positive alliance. Or take yourself on an artists’ date. It doesn’t have to cost money. Stroll through a farmers market and savor the colors of earth’s bounty. Bite into a juicy sun-ripe tomato or an ear of sweet, fresh corn. Walk in the grass, slip off your shoes and feel the cool green shoots tickling between your toes. Prowl an antique barn, and touch everything. Smell the history. You’ll return to your desk feeling creatively alive and renewed, having put the “free” back in freelance design.
Inspiration is all around us all the time, but when you’re in a rut, it’s hard to recognize that. Reconnecting with creativity is a vision quest – so get out of the house and find it!