Being Creative is a Stressful Job, But Someone Has to Do It

Thousands of people every year fight for open positions at the creative powerhouses Google and Pixar. It would be a dream come true to land a position at one of these companies. Google and Pixar embrace and foster creative environments. They encourage employees to think outside of the box and to share innovations for better processes, better products, and better service. Google has a ping pong table for employees to unwind, and they encourage employees to spend 20% of their work hours on creative projects outside of their normal daily tasks. Pixar encourages employees to decorate their workstations to reflect their personality, so you will see castles next to tiki huts and space stations. They ask people from all levels to contribute ideas and feedback.

Sound like the perfect job? Before you jump on the creative bandwagon, be aware that creativity is not entirely games. It requires a lot of hard work. The team at Pixar that worked on Toy Story 2 worked late nights, missed birthdays, and ate many meals at their desks. There was stress and plenty of doubts.

Self-employed artists that spend their afternoons in Central Park and photographers who attend swanky parties often worry about earning enough money to pay the rent and buy groceries. Day in and day out they work at perfecting their craft and searching out new ideas. Trying to survive on their creativity is stressful.

Is a creative job sounding less like a dream and more like a nightmare? I hope I haven’t burst your bubble beyond repair. For true creative people, the hard work and stress is worth the outcome. Their passion for their creative outlet is worth the effort. The good news is that there are ways to deal with the stress and struggles of a creative profession. My goal was to first make you understand that a creative job is not all sunshine and unicorns. A creative job is a real job with real pressures, just like lawyers and accountants have stress.

One way to deal with stress is to “reframe” what is causing the stress.

  • Do you have a deadline looming? The silver lining is that your project is almost done.
  • Do you need to solicit galleries for a showing? Think of the calls as opportunities to make new connections.
  • Is your project plagued with problems? This can be a chance to make some needed process improvements.

Simply flip your perspective. For more ways on how to deal with stress in creative professions check out Eric Maisel’s book Making Your Creative Mark: Nine Keys to Achieving Your Artistic Goals.