The challenge of creating a blog that sings

whether music video

By Mark Schaefer

As I write these words, it is 5:36 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

Am I crazy?

No, I’m excited.  After spending a week focused on consulting, teaching, and speaking projects, I finally have time to devote to this marvelous creative outlet, this opportunity to connect with you, through my blog.  When I finally have that quiet time to write, I am ready to LEAP to that keyboard and create.

This is also the enigma, and perhaps greatest challenge of blogging … at least for me, and I suspect for most of you. How do you stay fresh and allow time for a creative process when you still have bills to pay?  How do you hold down a job and create a blog that sings?

I attended a fascinating lecture this week that really pinpointed this problem for me.  I spent about two hours listening to a person who is on the opposite end of the creative spectrum.

Creative immersion

jena serbu artJena Serbu is creative for a living.  She works on dark, surreal paintings.  Jena sculpts. She writes plays and movie scripts.  She directs, produces and edits films. She combines all of these talents in stunning music videos.  Her latest art project is mailing 365 post cards to friends and strangers she plucks from the phone book.

Jena has the rich and rare opportunity of being completely immersed in her creative journey every minute, every day. She leaps from project to project and idea to idea in this seamless frenzy of activity.  I’m not sure where the money comes from to support all this, but I know that in part, wealthy patrons provide grants and residency programs that allow her to live in the journey, instead of aiming at a financial destination.

I felt jealous. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a chance to simply create without concern … even for a few weeks?

You and I do not have the luxury of submerging ourselves in a constant creative journey. To create my “art” on this blog, I have to work from point to point, grabbing time whenever I can (even before dawn on a Saturday!) if I am to unleash my ideas on the world.

To block out the extended time necessary to write a book, I have to take a serious short-term financial hit to my business.

Creating is a luxury

Creating art is a luxury.  It’s way up at the top on that Maslow Hierarchy of Needs chart you studied in school. First you have to find a way to eat, take care of your family, and pay the bills before you can dabble in a creative process.

And while blogging is important to my business (and yours!) it is, in fact, a highly creative endeavor that is not unlike composing a little song or making a video.  My son is in the music business and we often compare notes on the very similar creative processes we experience.

The problem is, it’s pretty darn challenging to be creative on demand, to be limited by a “point to point” creative process. We have to squeeze our art into the edges of the frenzied demands of life … after that last customer phone call, after mowing the yard, after putting the kids to bed,

So to all you weekend bloggers out there, I want to thank you, encourage you, and give you a virtual round of applause. This is hard work, isn’t it?

But I am also realizing that even if I cannot be a continuous creative buzzsaw like Jena, I still have to find time for random inspiration, playfulness, and new conversations that lead to creative insight.  Short of finding a wealthy patron for my blog, I am going to have to actually “schedule” creative exploration as a business activity! This is the entry fee for a seat at the blogging table these days, I’m afraid.

Can I pull this off, or will I be drawn back into the daily hurricane every time I try? Time will tell. But I would be really interested in hearing about how you are handling this. My fellow bloggers and artists … how do you run a business, run a life, and still find time to create your beautiful song?

Top illustration: Still frame from the music video “Whether.” Song by Julia Othmer, video directed by Jena Serbu.

Side illustration: Artwork from Ippise Jones book series by Jena Serbu.

All posts

  • I just keep writing, reading and pushing. The more I do the easier it becomes or so I have convinced myself.

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  • What a beautiful post. I am inspired daily by keeping on track by reading blogs of people and minds I admire, like yours and, for example this morning @AJLeon. I find that as you say, it’s a creative process and I believe creativity must be nurtured – everyone may do this differently. When it comes down to writing, I love the way you’ve explained it, you have to find that time and make it- however of the feeding of the process is a part of every day, that writing time for me comes naturally – it’s a matter of (almost stealing) the time. When the hierarchy of needs doesn’t allow for the time (and I love the way you’ve pointed that out) I still write, I keep notes constantly so that the minute I can make that time, I’m ready – the thoughts and inspiration and tools are there. And as you say it’s a wonderful feeling and it’s exciting. I can’t imagine writing anything as a chore- and yes, that’s a luxury. Immersing oneself in a world that inspires daily is such a privilege… It’s also rewarding to give oneself that challenge every day. I think that’s why successful blogging comes from the heart, from a true passion and interest.
    When I blog it usually is a commitment of about 3hours for one entry – when I take into account editing and adding pictures an back links. This 3hours passes by very fast – unnoticeable – but this is what I’ve noted. That’s after the inspiration- that’s the easy flowing creative part…

    Thank you for this article Mark, I think it says something that isn’t often expressed and in such a lovely and encouraging way.

    We make time for life, and it also feels good when we remember to make time for our creativity – but it’s even better when we make creativity part of our life. I try and keep that flowing with photos in between the writing 🙂

    Have a beautiful day!

  • Let’s hope, my firend! : )

  • I absolutely love this: “When the hierarchy of needs doesn’t allow for the time, I still write.” That is so poignant Mila. You’ve taught me and inspired me today. Thank you!

  • There’s no right answer, but for me, I’ve started to write on a schedule. I carve out 30 minutes to an hour first thing in the morning. It’s when I’m the freshest and it ensures that blogging doesn’t get left to be something “when I have time”. If I did that, it would never happen. And, this is my way of putting myself (and my business) first. I’m still working on getting in a rhythm, but so far, this seems to work for me.

  • My first feeling was like yours: envy at her freedom, but…I wonder if it really is a gift, because the struggle is also what fuels creativity, at least, that is my experience. When I’m aware, my whole life is my creative crucible. I used to wonder what I’d blog about. Now I have notes all over the place. The difference, I think, is that I used to put my head down to get through tough times. Now I look them in the eye and think, “Can I blog about this?” LOL Not everything makes it, because my family would kill me, but ideas spark more ideas. And scarce time does focus that energy. I won’t say there aren’t times I wouldn’t like to escape to a writer’s retreat, but no, I don’t envy her. I think I kind of feel sorry for her, because I get to live my life while I write. Thanks for making me think about this, because sometimes I do get irritated when life gets in the way of that scene…

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  • I have a food blog and I can totally relate to this post. I’m usually creative when I’m in the middle of cranking out some culinary masterpiece, but by the time I go to post it there is a lot of technical, un-fun stuff to do before it can go live. It’s a process and I have to tell myself that the process (creating, shooting, food styling, photo editing) is part of the journey. And the better the end result the more inspiring it is for others. Having said that, I find that my best time to be creative on the blog is early in the morning before the other distractions set in and at night with a glass of wine, before I’ve hit the “I’m too tired to be creative” point. Happy to hear others struggle with this too 🙂

  • Hurray for you!! You are such a great writer and I am so happy to see you devoting time to your blog! We will all be better for it. : )

  • Mark, great blog post and I know that it can be a challenge – but like you say, this is the commitment you need to make if you want a seat at the bloggers table these days.

    Like many of the comments below, i make sure i carve out time at the start of the week to write a blog post (many of my colleagues are reading through weekend emails, having coffee and catching up on the weekend adventures – i spend it writing). Throughout the week, i’m never short of inspirational moments where i think to myself ‘i should write a blog on that!’. Its these moments i take 2 mins to write the idea in my notebook, so when it comes to me ‘blocked out’ time – i have a list of ideas to work from.

  • My gosh that is a brilliant and insightful comment Pauline! Your tenacity and experience really shines through. You are an inspiration!!

  • I definitely share your frustrations. We are “soul bloggers” Robyn! : ) Keep at it!

  • That is a great discipline Scott. I don;t know if you saw my post on this topic or not, but you would enjoy it:

    Thanks for sharing your methodology!

  • I’m with Mila, great post and something we can all (or most) relate. Let’s face it, we all make time for those things we love whether it’s cooking, writing or whatever. Staying creative can definitely be a challenge. Scheduling writing times is critical and we all have times when we have writers block, it’s just going to happen (at least to me). And then someone like Mark Schaefer writes a compelling piece and we share that, instead of some mumble-jumble we could throw together, because it makes much more sense. Thanks for your continued writing that spurs us on!

  • Phoo.., that’s a biggy… My aim at the moment is one post a week, I spend time on it in the weekend, making sure it goes to press on Monday.
    I don’t have kids, but the near future will provide with plenty of road blocks. I guess Pauline has a point, if you keep the variation in you life (and work) you’d get inspiration from that.

  • Mark,
    As you know, I actually had to resort to singing to get my blog to sing 🙂

    I’m not sure where #SocialSong Saturday will go, but so far it serves the purpose of propelling me beyond creativity as a luxury, to find the point inside me at which creativity is a necessity. My late father, who was not a writer (save for some stunningly sweet and poignant poetry for my Mom over the years) once said to me, when I was fretting over not having time to write fiction or poetry once I entered the work force, “If you need to write, you’ll write.” I continue to look inside me to find that essential need of expression – beyond the business need to blog – and proceed from there.

  • Ha! Thanks for that Susan. I schedule my writing time too, but wouldn;t it be great some day to just be able to “do it” when you want to? I need one of those McArther grants!!! : )

  • My kids are grown. That is definitely a competitive advantage as a blogger! Thanks Rogier!

  • Great question Mark…
    Thank you for this opportunity to respond
    Being present in each moment, and listening to my inner voice works for me!

  • Mark, I have a curated website for HR Pros. Within the past few weeks, I finally took the plunge and added my own personal blog. It is hard, exhilarating work. It is especially hard to do well when you have a demanding “day job.” I’m a full time employment lawyer with a Master’s in playwriting. So, I really see your point of view, share your pain and feel that same creative urge – even if I can only give in to it once a week.

    Great article.
    Best wishes from another “early a.m. author,”

  • Jack made a comment in one of his posts that is now one of my mantras: “Just write baby, just write”. I’d add…create baby, just create:) Cheers! Kaarina

  • Well, thank you. 🙂 My hubs had surgery last week and you talk about the temptation to blog…but I promised him I wouldn’t. I didn’t even tweet…of course I didn’t promise not to use any of it in a novel… (evil grin)

  • What a lovely post, Mark. Where do I begin… (can you hear the music in the background?)

    I’ve been on several ups and downs with my blog (which I LOVE). At various points in time, I have not been able to write, or publish, or even edit my guest bloggers’ posts. The most recent fallow period really had me worried… until I decided to stop worrying. I decided to test this premise – that if my connections to online friends, social networks (and I do mean “networks,” not just platforms) and IRL colleagues and friends were strong enough, then those who enjoyed the blog would enjoy it just as much when I published something worthy of their attention… regardless of how much time had elapsed in between. Because they too suffer from being bombarded every second of the day. In fact, might they appreciate a temporary silence from me? Especially since I’ve been pretty public as to what’s been going on with me, and what I’m trying to focus on?

    I haven’t specifically asked the question, but as I slowly come out of that fallow period (I think, I can’t guarantee it’s over), I believe the answer is “yes.” More than anything, I have seen people be so generous with me with their understanding, and it has given me new humility and renewed appreciation for them.

    I think scheduling “creative exploration” is a smart idea. I don’t do that specifically (yet) but I do try to block off days on my calendar when no one can book a meeting with me. I’m re-learning which times of day work best for me to undertake certain tasks, and hopefully will find that rhythm soon. And yes, sometimes this means working an entire weekend (like I did this past weekend) – but the satisfaction that comes with having watered the blog’s bed, so to speak, is incredible.

    And when I’m tired, I just shut down. Because if I don’t, I end up writing/creating nonsense.

  • Mark,

    I have second @Milaspage:disqus in this is truly a beautiful blog post.

    One of my goals for 2013 is capturing more of my art… What I mean by that is ideas for blog posts, guest posts, podcasts, videos whatever… These ideas don’t come, as you “On Demand.” Often they come at inopportune times. This year I want to capture more of those ideas so that when time is available I can build off of them and the idea isn’t lost to the Universe.

    The tools I’m using for that right now are:

    Quora Blog
    Moleskin paper notebook
    Text message myself on cell phone (hack of sorts I guess)

    All the best my friend,


  • Well shucks, Mark. Thanks for the kind words. That means a lot coming from you! 🙂

  • I’m like Ryan in that I record my ideas. I always have a notebook with me, although I’ll use Evernote in a pinch. I then have to set aside specific time for specific projects. Time is a precious thing, especially when you’re juggling a day job and trying to get a business off the ground in addition to trying to maintain some semblance of a social and spiritual life.

  • Great question, Mark. I’ll take one step out on not just writing for a blog, but also getting a new business off the ground. For my new music website, I need creative juices to keep the ideas going, the motivation to plow on with new services and features, raising money, …it never ends. Oh, yeah, and there is a blog, too.

    So where does the inspiration come from? I think just the duty I owe it back to the fans and musicians on the site motivate me. I’ve created a community, not unlike the much larger community here on {grow}. I feel obligated …no, I AM obligated to do my best, make the right descisions, and provide the FUN experience I promise. It’s a lot of pressure. But that’s ok, it’s a labor of love.

  • Boy, this really hits home for me. It is a daily struggle. In my graphic design business, I am able to create for others as a means to pay the bills and feed my family. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and have worked very hard to grow my business. But it doesn’t totally scratch my creative itch. More and more, I find myself being pulled back to art, specifically watercolor, not design. It fulfills me in a different way. I’ve sold and commissioned work, too. Exciting as that is, I then am being creative on demand, and getting paid for it. So is it really different than my design work?

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  • Mark,

    Great post to read this morning! Thank you.

    This is how I look at it. I started blogging about 16 months ago and am now wishing I had started way, way earlier. You know …. Back when nobody knew who Chris Brogan was? (well, my wife still doesn’t, but that’s beside the point) Anyway why do I wish I’d started earlier? Before I start let me just say, yes it can be a creative struggle. I often find myself spinning my wheels, or trying to go in too many directions at once. And I have to admit, at the beginning I had absolutely no idea what a huge time investment this little blogging venture would be.

    BUT …

    1. It’s become a springboard for so many new and exciting things. It’s changed my business direction, and within a year’s time the goal is to have a completely different business model. (And I now have another on the back burner)

    2. I’m more creative, and I would like to think, just a wee bit smarter, because this kinetic dance we call social is … the watercolor, the library, that conference room where you used to have brainstorming sessions, and so much more.

    3. I’ve discovered a new passion: Writing.

    4. I’ve stop and started with this, but am now working on building a speaking platform, locally at first. But the blog has given me direction here.

    I could go on, but I think you get the picture, plus I don’t want to bore you to death (maybe I already have ;)) Although way busier, I am now creating more and am more productive than ever, because of this fancy social web and the simple fact that I force myself to write for 1-2 hours each day.

    Man, do I ramble 😉 You just amped my up this morning, Sir!

  • @TheJackB:disqus rocks.

  • You should share that link so people can see what you’re talking about. Amazingly creative!

  • Hey there. Capturing that inner voice in the moment is so important. And if you have time to act on it too? That would be great. Would love to work toward that goal! Thank you dear friend.

  • I am so happy to hear from you! It is great to her of another creative person and their “point to point” journey with blogging. Thanks so much Mary.

  • This comment is a real gift Shonali. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to share your story, your journey and your solution. Your blog and your community are awesome!

  • Ha! I use those too! This is really a key idea Ryan. Capture, capture, capture. It is the best solution for writer’s block and the most powerful creative fuel. Thanks for adding to the dialogue!

  • Amen Erin. Couldn’t agree more!

  • The thing I like about this Frank is you are also being a leader. When you get to a certain point, you DO have a responsibility to readers and your community. I like that you are stepping up and being a leader instead of just a blogger. If you want people to follow you, then you do have to lead. Good job my friend!

  • I am so jealous. I would love to be able to paint, especially with watercolors. Maybe I could feature your work on {grow} some time as an illustration? Would love to do that if it would help you in some way. Let me know if this “sings” to you! Thanks Gennifer!

  • Oh yeah. Ramping Craig up. My job is done here! : )

    This is a wonderful blog post in its own right Craig and I hope you’ll do that! There are so many benefits to blogging, both quantitative and qualitative. You just have the courage to start and the tenacity to keep going. Thanks for the exceptional observation!

  • :))))

  • Charming post. Thanks for writing, Mark. My two cents: late nights, coffee and a deadline. It’s amazing how a deadline can focus the mind.

  • Yup. You have to push “publish.” If you wait for perfect, you will never post for your first article!

  • fionagreen66

    A timely blog post…..I just did my first one this morning after writing it over the weekend! I’m hoping I can keep it up — and will no doubt be using your blog, and the comments it’s generated, to keep me going……

  • It’s singing, it’s singing! You can see some of my work at or . I’m currently painting “November Sky” from a photo that one of my Tweeps posted (Twitter truly has changed my life!). I’d also love permission to paint one of your FL photos that you posted last week–some of them are quite inspiring!

  • Great post, Mark. In that list of “Things to Do,” did you mention social media engagement and sharing the blog post you worked so hard to create? Argh! It is indeed overwhelming.

    I’ve often wondered how you are able to consistently put out such great posts. I simply must put more structure to my day and make CREATING a MUST DO activity. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Thanks Mark, I really enjoyed this post, and many of the comments as well.

    I’ve evolved into a “weekend blogger” myself these days (usually Sundays for me), though like others have said, my blog post ideas come at all times – often when I’m farthest away from my computer.

    Sometimes these brainstorming sessions are purely accidental, and other times I’ve purposefully used the time away from my desk to open my mind to new possibilities.

    I’ll jot down my ideas on a lined pad of paper (I have them all over the house) and then later I’ll type a draft and save it on my blog to come back to later.

    I like doing the actual writing of my posts – the most creative stage of the process – on the weekends when I feel more focused and my time is more spacious.

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  • Thanks, Mark! Maybe I will make a post of this 🙂

  • I was figuring out how to send a Tweet to everyone that basically said, “all of you guys out there who do the social media “thing” on a consistent basis…I give you a LOT of credit” This is a lot of work! (but my tweet was too long, so your post was perfectly timed)

    The hardest part of this for me is the consistency, creativity and the ability to blog “on demand”. There is a learning curve to this & I make mistakes. I make mistakes mostly because I have a business to run, a family life, and my focus sometimes shifts rapidly. I’ve been fighting through it. Meeting some really helpful people (like yourself) and doing the best I can. But once again. It’s not easy. I have a lot of respect for the people who are way ahead of me on the learning curve.

    My most creative time comes between the hours of 4:45 am and 7 am. I’m my most productive and my most creative. The key for me is to figure out how to take those creative times and create that “beautiful song”

  • Chuck Kent

    Oh, if you insist 🙂 Here’s the link to the very first #SocialSong Saturday

  • My are just teenagers, still home… trying to figure out how to get them to be guest bloggers.

  • As i write this at 1:30 am, with client deadlines looming and the blog standing in line behind them, I am in awe of those who can get it all done in a way that I cannot. For me, the paradox is that I need unscheduled time to do nothing, and wander away from all of it, to recharge my creative batteries and create the work of which I will be most proud. You hit the target dead center, and if I had time to read all 46 comments, I am sure i would find additional wisdom and inspiration there!

  • Sure. You can paint anything you want. If you have an idea for some art for a post, let me know. Sunset might work somehow.

  • Excellent. Consistency is key!

  • The engagement part is challenging too but I try to do a little each day. It is a priority though. Thanks Gina!

  • Sounds like you’re in a good rhythm there Linda. I us a very similar approach. Thanks for commenting!

  • I really think this will get much easier with practice Rich. I am a must more efficient blogger than I was two years ago! I think you’ll look back and agree that the beginning is the hardest part!

  • Well in that case, I am super honored that you took the time to comment Rhonda!! Much appreciated!

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  • Oh, Mark.

    The timing of this post is, for me, impeccable.

    Though there are several things contributing to my current state of mind, it is your post that has tripped the wire, so to speak. As I sit here, trying to put my thoughts together around your questions, I find my vision blurred by tears that I can’t quite explain.

    The thing of it is, although creation is at the top of Maslow’s slippery-sloped pyramid of needs, isn’t it the most important part of our existence?

    Yes, we need shelter and food, safety and community. Our basic animal and human needs must be met. But … it is the act of creation – of making something that sings – that is, I believe, our true purpose. Because in that act of creation, we simultaneously discover our own true selves and connect with others around us in a deep and honest way.

    Life is short. You never know what lies around the next bend. What a tragedy if you ran out of time before you could sing your song.

    Much of the work I do would be considered creative. I “create” brands and “craft” content. I write. I work in the world of ideas. I am grateful for this and grateful that I am able to make a living at it. But …

    … like Gennifer Richie said in an earlier comment, that doesn’t quite scratch the creative itch. It may be creative, but it is not my creation. It does not speak to my song. There is a big difference.

    Time is, as you point out, the crux of the challenge.

    Or, to be more precise, how we spend the time we have.

    Sadly, we often squander it. We cannot see clearly through that “daily hurricane” to what is most important. We are caught up in the chaos of survival. Minutes and hours and days and years slip through our fingers, and we hardly notice.

    What do I do to make to create from my heart while running a business and having a life? Not enough. Not nearly enough.

    As a single mom with a young child (she just turned nine!), much of my time is already – happily – spoken for. My business claims at least as much on top of that, and time with my beau as well. Next, self-care (per Maslow’s directive) including exercise and mental health activities like yoga, walking, and meditation (something I’m still very much a newbie at).

    I end up creating at odd hours. Like you, the early morning is a sacred time for me. I write my morning pages (following Julia Cameron’s advice in The Artist’s Way). Most nights, I find myself perched on the edge of my daughter’s bed in the wee hours – waiting for her to fall back asleep so I can return to my bed. I have found these pockets of time to be some of my most inspired – I think it has to do with being woken from sleep. Ideas and solutions pop into my head as if they’d been waiting there in the semi-darkness.

    I give myself creative license with certain of my “business” activities – my blogs, the column I write for my local paper, even some of my client work. I try to stretch the boundaries to encompass some of my own song – even just a bar or two.

    And I am trying to get better at carving out a little time – even a couple hours a week – to just play. As things shift in my world, I am more and more committed to making that a priority. You have to. No one else will do it for you. If you’re burning to create something, to say something, to share something … only you know how much you need to get that out and only you have the power to make the time.

    Carving out time to create is hard. But it is the most important thing you can do. The world needs your song as much as you do.

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  • My pleasure Mark… Love to help when you are ready “to work toward that goal!” ~Rae

  • One shift that can really have an impact is that your creation is directly connected to your ability to serve others. I see the content as I produce as being educational and being able to move a reader from one step to the next. But, with that, comes the realization that when I’m not publishing, I’m hoarding. That’s why I made a calendar of all the topics I want to cover for the year and a strategy to get it all done. If we blog just for our own notoriety or desire to be recognized, it can be quite crazy and seem like a luxury. But if we’re writing it to serve others and their needs, it becomes a mission that sets you on fire.

  • Jamie–it’s true, you must make time. I paint on Thursday nights. I register for a watercolor class faithfully, even though I am well beyond the scope of the teacher’s lessons. I pay a fee for the opportunity to sit with a few good friends for two hours and engross myself in the color and technique and inspiration. Without these two hours, I fear, I would not paint. Life is busy. Schedule time and put it in your calendar. Make it a priority.

  • I am just blown away by your comment. I think you probably speak for many Jamie.

    Another thing I am thinking about — and have a post queued on this — is the subtle pressure I think we are all under to “be remarkable.” The whole damn web is filled with these rainbow bombs encouraging us to reach for the stars and create our art. But you know, sometimes being a great mom is all you can be that day. And that might be a heroic act that is not going go viral and earn acclaim.

    I think it is really good that you stretch yourself to be creative, but also take time to breathe and celebrate the small daily victories like paying your bills on time, making a great meal, soothing an upset child, or writing a blog comment that makes me want to fly to Boston and give you a hug!

  • Love that Jeff. Fantastic comment!

  • I write when I wake up for about 15-20 minutes. Before email, before social media, before I get on the Internet.

  • Gettysburg Gerry

    Hey Mark,

    I find I go through stages, as most do, there are times where blog after blog is written in my head and the creativity process is almost effortless. Then there are those times….crickets…I find using “evernote” or “catch” on my phone to record blog ideas. I have found that if it is 2:30 am and a blog idea comes to mind out of a dead sleep. I have to get it recorded or it will be lost.

    I have to say I love your line “Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a chance to simply create without concern”. I relate to that, to many times I think we worry about whether the post is “worthy”. I hereby commit to blogging with abandon, to create blogs without concern…that is so powerful. I’ll let you know how it works out…LOL

    Hope you are well Sir.

  • Mark,

    I enjoyed this read very much, thank you. I kept nodding my head in agreement with everything you said. Currently (and sadly) I am not working in a very creative job or in one where I can at least use a small percentage of the skills I look forward to using with my blog. It is hard to swallow, but I wake up everyday (or try to) with a positive outlook, and still try to do a good job at the current position I am in, spite of its shortfalls. But any other minute doing my day that I get to create something of interest to me is so valuable.

    In my case, my blog/site will require me to be creative as a story writer, and I will have blog articles on the side. Although I have ideas in my head all day long, it is definitely intimidating to sit down at 6, after work, ready to pop out a creative, entertaining, interesting and well-thought out story. But I do get inspired by the idea of editing the piece in the future. The main thing we must do is write the first version.

    Thanks again for this post.

    Jose C.

  • Great discipline Paul!

  • A superb and thought-provoking comment Gerry. Glad you were inspired, and yes … I am well. : )

  • You’re just the kind of hard-working writer this post was meant for Jose. It’s difficult work when we all have bills to pay. Hang in there and than you for your honest and meaningful commentary here today!

  • Thanks Mark. Likewise!

  • I’m not a writer but I have that desire to be one day.:) I myself can relate on this situation. Sometimes in work we can’t avoid that there are days that you are less productive because so many problems are bothering you. If you let yourself drowned with these thoughts your day will be wasted. Self discipline and a focus mindset is the key in here. No matter hardships, challenges come just keep on pushing. Thank you for sharing your experiences here. Feel inspired by the comments I’d read in your blog

    Happy Day:)

  • RG_Riles

    Fantastic post! Indeed, exploring your creative side DOES seem like a luxury, at times. If you’re writing a book on top of all of it, you’re just going to have to choose your battles. However, during those times you’re not writing a book, but you’re doing everything else you do for your business, there is one critical practice which so many in the multi-tasking generations have a really hard time doing. However, once mastered, you will find your mind/soul at peace that you have had the time to create, and taken care of your business, all in the same amount of time you had before.. Here is the secret… you ready?

    As the leader of an organization, you are the creative energy and, while you must nurture creativity in the culture of your organization, you must also realize that most, if not all, of the innovation from your firm comes directly from you. SO, it absolutely MUST become a business activity. In FACT, it must become a one day per week routine.

    Do I mean that you spend one whole day blogging and creating your art every week? No. I mean that once a week, you need to plan a whole day to do one of two things: 1) Get out of the office, into nature, or somewhere else where you are inspired – and be alone with your thoughts. Soak in the solitude. Breathe. Let ideas come to you; or 2) Spend an entire day with your phone on “emergency only” mode… the door shut, and just create. If you alternate those practices, you will give yourself 8 hours of creativity per week and, personally, I have found that I utilize my non-creative time much more efficiently when I am forced to do so!

  • Your virtual hug is received and returned, Mark. 🙂

    I hear you Big Time re: the “rainbow bombs” (what a great term!). Over the past couple of weeks, I have been systematically unsubscribing from the mailing lists of people who preach that particular rhetoric. Greatness and being remarkable does not have to be big or flashy. Sometimes, the most remarkable things are small and quiet and hardly acknowledged by anyone outside a very small circle.

    Small victories deserve to be savored as much, if not more, than big ones. I hope you have some to celebrate today and that you take the time for a smile and a pat on the back for a job well done. 🙂


  • Hi, Gennifer!
    I did something similar last summer. Even though I was crazy busy with deadlines, I signed up for a fiction writing class. It took place on six Thursdays and meant that I lost that entire day of work (because of driving into the city and so forth). I had no idea how I would make it work, but – amazingly – I did. And I’m SO glad I did. I learned a lot, but more than that, I made a financial and time commitment to something that was important to me even though it wasn’t “responsible” or a source of revenue. I made it a priority, like you said; and it felt really good. 😉

  • You are going to love this upcoming post : )

  • So what’s keeping you from writing? Why “one day?” Give it a try! The only way to get better is to do it. If you look in the category section on my blog at the right and find “blogging best practices” you can find lots of good ideas on how to get started!

  • Quite an interesting perspective RG. I agree that this is a very important role for a leader. Thanks!

  • Caitlin Sellers

    I love reading your blog, it is constantly inspiring to be a better writer and business woman. The past few entries that have popped out at me are in regards to being confident, not overanalyzing, and ways to be consistent. One thing I have wondered about are all of your awesome images! Other than the few free stock photo sites I have found, I try to use my own. Any suggestions on finding intriguing photos?

  • Thanks for the encouragement Mark! I will.

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  • Yeah, the early morning is best. Be observant about everyone and everything around you. Read. Scan the news. Read blogs and comments. You never know where a creative spark will occur. Sometimes just write about nothing in particular. You’ll be surprised where you end up. I highly recommend “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. It’s a wonderful book on writing and life, or the other way around.

  • I use some of my own and also old photos and art works that are in the public domain. I also look through the creative commons area of Flickr. I also buy art from places like BigStock and iStock Photo. Good luck and thanks for the kind words!

  • Thanks for taking the time to comment Leo!

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  • Mark Schaefer.

    I would like to argue that Art is Not a luxury. That the very idea of a luxury infers something is comfortable and pleasurable but not necessary. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is in fact a hierarchy of NEEDS. There is no spot on the need pyramid for whirlpool baths. Creativity holds a place at the top echelon of that pyramid…maybe not as necessary for survival as food and family but a need none the less.. The basic needs may be just the foundation to reach the highest level of living….not the least important level.

    “You and I do not have the luxury of submerging ourselves in a constant creative journey.” You tell your readers. (presumably because of work, bills, responsibilities) There is a way to be self actualized and responsible at the same time. You choose it. You can choose to create art if you wish at any moment. Any moment.

    That is what Jena Serbu has done her entire life. I have known Jena for 20 years and reading your blog about her creative endeavors fills me with a lot of pride, because her talents were obvious from the minute we met and watching her grow, nurture and tend to her ideas has been a privilege. I am envious that you had the opportunity to see her speak about her work, because the depth of her creative thinking dares you to jump out of your seat and do more. Her work is prolific and immense and you can’t help but wonder if she has more hours in the day then the rest of us.

    “Jena has the rich and rare opportunity of being completely immersed in her creative journey every minute, every day. She leaps from project to project and idea to idea in this seamless frenzy of activity.”

    Your blog does sing…this is the song of Jena a seamless frenzy of activity, she grabs onto horns, she sucks marrow from bone. Whatever you saw of her art was but the smallest fraction of stories, ideas, films, plays, sculptures, paintings, drawings, songs, environments and meals that she creates. It is enviable, unbelievable and awe inspiring. But then you move on to question where the ability to pay for the “luxury” to be an artist comes from.

    ” I’m not sure where the money comes from to support all this, but I know that in part, wealthy patrons provide grants and residency programs that allow her to live in the journey, instead of aiming at a financial destination.”
    The very fact that Jena Serbu is self actualized as a creative individual is beautiful. But she has accomplished every single goal in the most old fashioned way. Hard work, never giving up, not giving into doubt, hers or others, no complaints, no excuses. She has created the life she leads now with her own hands, depending on no one, asking for no help, seizing opportunities and powering forward thru all obstacles. It has not been an easy or frivolous task, it was not luck or a wealthy benefactor allowing her to live her dream. It was her decision to live it, struggle and sacrifice for it. Yes her art is amazing, her life is amazing…..but the integrity and perseverance she has shown to get to where she is makes you want to stand up and cheer. It would be easy to look at her and say, oh she doesn’t have the struggles I have, or there must be a silver spoon….but that belittles the very adventure of her. She has overcome more then most of us ever imagine. So for me while I often have the urge to envy her incredible creative lifestyle, I realize that I must further envy her resilience, her thought process and her intrinsic sense of value, because that is the foundation that she stands on.

    I just thought you and your readers should know.


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