Top Up, Tap In: The Secret to 24/7 Creativity

Talk to most creatives and you’ll find they have a passion they’re passionate about.

Because creativity sparks more creativity, if you’re a whizz at design you may also draw your own cartoon strips; if you’re a copywriter, you may upload short stories to your blog. But if you’re a creative, you’re probably also becoming increasingly overwhelmed by work pressure.

Here’s a wild idea, though: For the sake of your sanity–and self-improvement for that matter–why not spend a little more time on your side hustle, especially if it feeds into your traditional 40-hour plus work week?

Industry pressure is tough, but so is the pressure we put on ourselves to stay creative.

For many, working in advertising, marketing or media doesn’t necessarily mean you’re tapping into your true passion. You’re taking that tired but tried-and-tested idea, tweaking it slightly and turning it in quickly, to move on to the next thing on your to-do list.

I challenge you to instead list your inner spark as the next item on your to-do list.

Go on, add ‘mindless doodling’ to your to-do list. I’ll wait.

Much has been said about the ‘side hustle’ over the past few years, as there’s growing awareness that we need to nourish our entrepreneurial spirit, whether it eventually becomes a full-time gig or stays an after-hours hobby.

But there’s greater value in taking the plunge and focusing on fun, whether you think you have time to do so or not.

I saw this is in action at the second official SheSays Cape Town event in August last year–attendees didn’t write just their names, but their ‘slash’ or side hustle on their name tags. Every one of us had something to write down, whether it was blogger, photographer or part-time student. We all dedicate our spare hours to something we feel compelled to master, so why not find a way to incorporate that into the ‘main hustle’?

Add some of your personal design flair the next time you’re briefed to design a logo. Sure, there are rules and ways of working, but in no other industry do you have more power to say, “Let’s try something like this,” and run with it.

After all, it’s 2019! Time to stand up for ourselves!

The International Women’s Day theme for the year’s #BalanceforBetter, but while gender equality is the core focus, I suggest we each make it a personal mantra to aim for better work-life balance. But don’t be more regimented about the split–instead, forget it. Where your basic KPIs will allow it, let your work spill over into your after-hours life and your after-hours life spill into work hours. This is probably already happening, but you’d be amazed at how empowering it can be to acknowledge that and go with the flow.

Carve aside a few hours to focus on your passions. Just pull out a pencil and notepad and get into some mindless doodling for a few minutes. The carefree nature of the task will spark your creativity and before you know it, you’ll feel a little urge along the lines of: ‘Wait, what if I just…’

The end result? You’re back in touch with your personal creative flow, which means things will tick along more smoothly when you’re in work mode, and you’ll be more likely to carve aside some time in that jam-packed schedule for your passion projects. After all, jam is liquid and fills the space it’s given. So you’ll likely be just as productive–if not more so–than before. 

I’ve consciously tried this a few times over the past few weeks and I’ve found the somewhat scary saying to be true: “The more you do, the more you can do.”

Sure, I’m constantly checking emails, sending emails, zipping through social media feeds, zooming in on breaking news updates and more. But I also accept almost every writing opportunity that comes my way (hi, #FortReview!) It’s also the secret to how I’ve managed to keep up my photo-heavy weekly lifestyle blog for almost a decade now. As a result of that passion, I’ve also upskilled and taught myself Photoshop through a number of online courses, having hodge-podged together enough basic image-editing knowledge to not have to ask for help with all that picture editing. My graphic designer hubby is eternally grateful for this!

The blogging has also in turn snowballed into writing reviews of various weekend experiences–yes, that’s more work, but it doesn’t feel like it–#TheMilkshakeQueen is loving it! And after hours, instead of recharging my batteries at home, you’ll find me soaking up inspiration from others at industry events, or at morning entrepreneurial workshop sessions by Heavy Chef, and even at the weekly Wednesday lunchtime lectures run at Red & Yellow School.

Instead of draining my creativity, the fact that I’m constantly switching focus means there’s always new inspiration to stoke that flame, whether it’s part of my main hustle or my side hustle.

Stock up on some film, smudgy charcoal or whatever arty medium gets your heart ticking faster. If you work in the creative industry, it’s a truism that no two days are the same, nor are you likely to clock in at 9am and tap out at 5pm for family time. But if you’re giving your side hustle an outlet, you’ll find your side hustle is actually essential to your functioning as a well-rounded, happy and functional creative, with lots more spark in your tank–trust me.