The Struggles of Being a Self-Employed Creative

cross-posted on my WordPress 

Hey all! It’s been awhile since I checked in. I could give all sorts of excuses as to why I haven’t been writing blogs, but they’d be just that. Excuses. So things have been busy, but now I’m getting back into the swing of things.

Rather, I have a better idea of how things will swing. I’ll be able to anticipate super busy times better now, hopefully. Maybe. If that makes any sense.

Anyway, today’s post has been a long time coming, I think. I’ve been thinking on what it means to be a self-employed creative a lot lately and how hard it can be. I know that this kind of sounds like “WAAAAH WOE IS ME I DON’T HAVE MONEY BECAUSE I CREATE ART” – but its not really that so much as the stigma associated with it, I guess.

people don’t take you seriously

I thought that perhaps this was something that was happening because I was fresh out of college at the time, but it keeps happening over and over. Maybe its because I look pretty young, maybe its because of other things. But when I tell someone that I’m a writer, oftentimes there’s this patronizing look followed by a smug smile. And then they say the words I hate so much.

“What do you really do for a living?”

Incidentally, there’s a reason I made this shirt:

Getting asked that question is just so unbelievably frustrating. Yes, I understand that writing isn’t exactly the most stable career out there. It doesn’t bring in much money. But its something I love so much and I’m happy with what I’m doing. I’m pursuing my dreams, shouldn’t that be admired instead of looked down on?

you constantly feel like you need to keep busy

Maybe this stems from that stigma that people throw at you – after all, you’re just writing stories and dicking around on the internet, right? – but when you’re someone who works in art, writing, or other creative ventures…you always feel like you need to be doing something. You want to show up the people who look down on you.

Well, that’s part of it.

The other part is that, at least for me, I’m always coming up with new ideas. This is both wonderful and daunting. I love having a lot of ideas to choose from, but I’m afraid that I’ll never get all of my ideas out there.

I love creating things but I know that breaks are needed. It just gets hard to let myself slow down enough to take breaks.

you never feel like you’re doing enough

Even in years when I’ve cranked out three novels and published a book and done so much more, I feel like I haven’t done enough to make my career valid. I don’t make enough money to really support myself, the things I do make don’t get much attention…

And then the thought of ‘just do a little more’ creeps into my mind alongside the thought of ‘then you’ll be doing enough.’ Except it never feels like enough.

In the month of July, my friend and I produced a demo of a visual novel (totaling about 11k words) and started a visual novel studio, I worked on various fanfiction projects, various other writing projects too, and worked on my other visual novel project. And that demo we did? There’s about 30k written on the project total, we just put out 11k for the demo.

Oh. And put the final touches on Unfading Daydream.

Yet I don’t feel like I did enough. I feel like I could have done more.

That’s not a healthy mindset. There has to be a point that you look back at what you did and go ‘yeah, I did good. I did enough.’

But I feel like self-employed creatives struggle with that because of the stigmas that get thrown at them for doing what they do. Because society has deemed that if you don’t do ‘x’ amount of work, you don’t deserve ‘a’, ‘b’, and ‘c.’ (fill in those variables as you see fit).

Why is what I do less valid than what someone else does?

Maybe someday the attitude toward creative professions will change…I’m hoping it will. And maybe someday I’ll be able to look at what I’ve done in a month and be able to let myself relax. At least a little.


And now that we’ve covered the meaty parts of the posts, here are some announcements!

Unfading Daydream: Issue 1 is FINALLY ready for pre-order! Pre-order the first edition of Unfading Daydream’s limited hard-copy run. 68 pages of original content by indie authors with gripping tales from a dungeon campaign gone off to a miner’s last request.This volume features stories from Alven Burgett, Donovan Bertch, Stacie Dunham, Cate Millican, and Austin T. Twenter.

Hard copies can be pre-ordered here, at our Storenvy.

Ebook copies can be pre-ordered here on our Amazon page.

Hard copies of the issue are going to be sold only during the month of August – so if you’d like a physical copy, be sure to pre-order! However, ebook copies will always be available.

We are now accepting submissions for Unfading Daydream: Issue 2!

The theme for issue 2 is SUPERNATURAL.

…because issue 2 will be coming out around Halloween. Interpret the theme in whatever way you see fit, stretch your imaginations! We look forward to seeing your supernatural submissions!

Basic Details:

  • We are open to established and new, emerging authors.
  • In terms of length, we’re looking for stories between 1000 and 7000 words. Shorter or longer stories will be evaluated on a case by case basis.
  • No previously published works.
  • No fanfiction please
  • Reading periods are May, August, November, and February.
  • All submissions must be in by 11:59pm CST on the last day of the reading period. In this case, all submissions must be in by 11:59pm CST on August 31st.
  • Expect a decision within four weeks
  • See full guidelines HERE

I look forward to seeing submissions from people!

Happy writing!