Self-Care for CreatorsAug 07, 2023
Creative types have a big responsibility: our audiences depend on us to deliver content that challenges, entertains and inspires. It is more difficult to create authentic, original ideas when we are not at our mental and physical best. So it’s important to take a minute to examine self-care for creators.
This first category is obvious, but frequently overlooked or neglected. The image has become cliche: a writer or songwriter or animator hunched over a computer, late into the night. We have all been there. In the “zone,” ideas flowing out into reality, surrounded by empty cans of energy drink. This is what we live for; those moments where we create effortless, authentic content.
But this phenomenon is best taken in time-limited segments. Imagine a week of sleep-deprived creative nirvana, followed by a few weeks (or more) of groggy depression. It takes time to rebuild all that dopamine you burned.
Now imagine yourself in the creative zone for a few hours each night for, well, as long as you want. In this scenario, you are mindful of self-care and take time to eat well, rest and exercise. By the end of the week, you may create less content, but your overall productivity for the month, the year – for your career – will be greater. And probably of better quality.
Is this a hobby or a career? Do you produce in unpredictable spasms, or in a consistent manner that promotes your personal brand?
Are you an amateur, looking to make a temporary splash? Or are you building a professional career? It depends on your ability to reliably produce quality content. And that depends upon your good health.
Physical health is important in any career, more so when you get paid to bring forth ideas from the ether.
But there is more to the story.
This category is really part of the first, but it manifests differently. One of the first things you – and those around you – notice when you are fatigued and physically run down is the way you “show up” in the world. Your mental and emotional states are the first to suffer when you are physically depleted.
Imagine two people who want to make a difference with their creations. First is the cranky, depressed, unfocused creator who periodically produces content of great value. Contrast that with the hale and hearty creator who also produces great content, but in a predictable manner. In addition, this second person doesn’t piss off sponsors and alienate clients.
Legendary guitarist Steve Morse has said many times that a good musician who is a team player and gets along with the rest of the crew will get called back more often than the brilliant musician with whom nobody can work.
And so it is in every creative field of endeavor. Self-care pays dividends creatively and professionally, whether you are a “solopreneur” or part of a team. And it is a myth that the Adderall-gulping creator who goes three days without sleep makes better content.
Luckily for us, both categories – the physical and the mental/emotional – benefit from the same simple maintenance. Rest. Eat well. Exercise. Resist excess.
And there’s another benefit, one that you may not have considered.
Don’t Doubt It
The life and career of a creative person is anything but safe. There is no generally-accepted standard against which you can measure your work. The best you can do is produce content that inspires you, that makes you feel happy and satisfied. Your tribe, the people who follow you and value your work, will resonate with it.
The quickest way to failure is to try to produce something “popular.” Trying to “go viral” virtually ensures the opposite.
Failure is inevitable in the life of a professional creator. Albums flop, films have dismal opening weekends, TV series are cancelled. This is no place for the weak of mind and spirit.
This is also a good time to remind you that you are only responsible for what you create, not how it is received.
Doubt will set in, no matter how accomplished you may be. There are many hedges against self-doubt, anxiety and so-called “impostor syndrome.” And I will have much more to say about all of that as time goes on.
But there is good news here in the context of self-care.
Self-Care for Creators
When you take care of yourself, it is a powerful affirmation – to yourself and others – that you have something to offer. That you are worth caring for and about. That what you do matters.
The people that consume your content, no matter what it is that you create, can feel it when you come from a place of confidence. Confidence is – in every case – a powerful antidote to doubt, anxiety and impostor syndrome.
Take care of yourself. You have to matter to you before you can matter to them.
As always, I welcome your thoughts. You can reach me through the comments section on my Substack or Medium accounts or the blog section on my website. If this article as of value to you, please follow my Instagram and Twitter accounts. And be sure to subscribe to my River Of Creation podcast – The Podcast for Creators! – coming later this year.
Be well; do good!
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