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The (Un)Balancing Act: Bring Creativity Back to Your Business

Closeup wood blocks stack game

When your creative career is designed solely around stability, you may be tempted to resort to strict word counts, long hours, and crushing deadlines. That’s a classic make-more-to-earn-more model. A creative career works best when it’s diversified. Steady, eddy, income–however small at first–is a worthy goal. But how do you make it grow?

Once you have your essential work on track, you can experiment until you get a spike. A spike can be big or small. It’s any discovery that improves your process, your craft, and/or your marketing.

Last month, we streamlined your process with the four R’s: Risk, Restlessness, Recycle, and Relinquish. You’ve identified your essential work and let go of the busy work. Now take the time you’ve rescued . . . and waste it on purpose. You use that remnant as a garden of inspiration and a lightning rod of creativity. You play. You grow as a writer and as an author.

Take time to forgive yourself. Reviewing your life and work with gratitude can revive hope and show you opportunities near at hand.

David Kadavy talks about building stability and spikes into your creative career: “In part because having that stability helps you relax and relaxation is what brings about insights. And then I try to spend the rest of my resources on . . . something that only I can do or . . . some idea that could be big. Probably won’t, could be big.”

He describes several massive spikes of success in his career, but Joanna Penn gives these words of encouragement: “I’ve never had a spike like that. So I would also encourage the audience. You don’t have to have a spike . . . If you focus on producing your best creative work, then over time, you can make some kind of stability in terms of an income.”



Productivity for Creative People by Mark McGuinness


“Mind Management, Not Time Management With David Kadavy” (The Creative Penn, April 26, 2021)



  • Laurel Decher

    There might be no frigate like a book, but publishing can feel like a voyage on the H.M.S. Surprise. There’s always a twist and there’s never a moment to lose. Laurel’s mission is to help you make the most of today’s opportunities. She’s a strategic problem-solver, tool collector, and co-inventor of the “you never know” theory of publishing. As an epidemiologist, she studied factors that help babies and toddlers thrive. Now she writes books for children ages nine to twelve about finding more magic in life. She’s a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), has various advanced degrees, and a tendency to smuggle vegetables into storylines.


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