One thing I have run into repeatedly over my years of creativity: people asking when I’m going to DO SOMETHING with my work. It doesn’t matter if it’s been crochet, painting, writing, photography or sewing. The world has this weird idea that creative pursuits have no value unless you’re making money from them.
The problem with the gig economy is that there are so many people repeating the advice to “always be selling” that people are starting to believe it. Creating something because you love it is no longer fashionable – creating to SELL is the ‘in’ thing. This isn’t to say that selling your work is bad. If that’s what you want to do, then of course you should. What I’m saying is, sometimes I like to create just to create.
I have always disagreed with the idea that you must DO SOMETHING with every bit of creative inspiration that strikes. Isn’t just having fun enough? That you feel drawn or even compelled to create something beautiful – that should be enough.
For example, you’re a painter. You paint a beautiful field of wildflowers and then you hang the painting on your wall. That’s DOING SOMETHING, right? You can look at it every day and enjoy seeing something you created. If that’s what you want, that’s enough.
If you want to DO SOMETHING with your work, go for it. Exhibit it, give it to your mother, sell it, enter a contest with it, take it out in the back yard and set it on fire. Whatever you feel drawn to do is fine. Although you should probably check with the fire department before lighting the bonfire.
The point is, everyone doesn’t have to be a professional. You don’t have to make money off every last thing you create. You can create because you love what you do, or you have to, or you want to, or to shut someone up, or just for the hell of it.
Because it’s your creation, what you do with it is up to you. Don’t believe the people who tell you to DO SOMETHING with your work. It’s not now or never. It could be not now, but maybe next week.
I have only started selling my photos in the past year. For a while, I didn’t sell because I didn’t think my work was good enough. Then I didn’t because I couldn’t quite decide where to send my stuff. Finally, I decided fuck it, and just submitted to the first agency on my list. Much to my surprise, I was accepted within 24 hours on my first submission. There is no harm in waiting until you are ready.
That’s when you can DO SOMETHING with your work.