When Work Interferes With Your Creative Life

When Work Interferes With Your Creative Life

by Jacquie Wise


When Work Interferes With Your CreativityI am enjoying Wise Ways. My question today is, how do I address the conflict I have between doing and having a job, or being creative? More importantly, if ones ‘nine to five’ job and the stress it involves interferes with your creative life? DH


I don’t know how you express your creativity, so I can only answer in broad terms. I do understand, though.

I’ve been involved in pottery, stone sculpture, watercolour painting, and more recently, song writing. So I know what the creative urge feels like. And I’ve had to keep my business going.

Of the many stress-management techniques that exist, one of them is to be involved in something creative as often as possible. That includes any activity that can help you relax and unwind— cooking, gardening, or your particular creative endeavour.

So following your creative passion is a great way to handle the stress of your nine-to-five job. You don’t have to let stress get in the way. Try playing with it at random moments. It can energise you.

Another stress-management technique that enhances creativity is walking in nature—a local park or by a beach.

It’s doesn’t have to be an ‘either-or’ situation.

Anyone who’s creative knows that ideas develop bit by bit, until you get on a roll. You don’t have to wait until you’re ‘in the zone’. You can capture precious moments when you can develop ideas at any time.

It’s important to have your creative project front-of-mind, like having your painting on an easel at home, or your tapestry on a loom. Just staring at it on a regular basis will develop further ideas.

If you have to keep putting your project away because of lack of space, take photos of it so that you can keep revisiting it.

As soon as you’ve left work, shift your thinking to your project. How can you expand it? What do you need to do to develop it? Is the next step to finalise it?

Draw rough ideas in a sketch-book. If you’re a writer, you can write snippets of dialogue or character outlines while you’re going home on the train.

Here’s a story that may inspire you.

One of my career-counselling clients was intent on being an artist. She preferred to remain unemployed and on a very limited budget because she believed a job would take her away from her passion. She wanted to be focused; single-minded.

After talking about it, she realised her full-time job would actually enhance her potential as a professional artist. Her salary would pay for paints and framing, even though she would have to paint after hours.

Maybe think about your day job as something that enhances your ability to be creative instead of impinging on it.

Are you experiencing burn-out?

If you’re mentally exhausted, there’s no way you can think creatively. In that case, it may be time to get help to solve problems—and they may be nothing to do with your job.

Otherwise, it may be time to revisit your career. You may need to study something related to your creative aspirations, or find a job that involves more creativity. Even product development or marketing can be creative. Or working in an art store.

But that’s a huge step. Certainly not one to be taken quickly, or on your own if you’re too exhausted to make clear decisions.

I hope something I’ve said addresses your question.


I’d love to know what you think of what I’ve said here. You can give me your feedback, ask a question by email or post a comment below.

If you or someone you know would like a personal consultation, please call +61 3 9690 8159.

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