04 November 2007

The creative UN-LIFE and EVITA

Have you ever met a creative that could only talk about their work? I'm talking about the person who works overtime and then only wants to talk shop in their off time. You know, the person you won't always answer the phone for on YOUR day off because you know they want to have a two hour industry conversation? They have a one track mind, and it's whatever project they have currently.

Now, I'm not saying this is all bad, because some of my dearest friends fit this bill. I'm also sure that I've been guilty of this a few times over the years. However, these same people are also at the greatest risk of burning out. It's like watching fireworks. Bang, bang, bang, big lights, great moves, silence. I've watched some of the most talented creative people I've met burn out because they can't pace themselves, and get away from work.

I love what I do, I do it well, and I've been known to work overtime on a project I'm really exited about. I also host a dinner party once a week, go out with my friends, volunteer in my community, workout and pursue hobbies outside of my field. I have a life. It's balanced, vibrant, and fun. The one track creative has what I like to call an un-life. If you're suctioned to your computer, eat only office left-overs, and your friends have forgotten what you look like...get a life.

I was reminded about this recently when I went to see a performance of Evita in my town. Now, I live in the Northwest, not New York. The production was not Broadway quality, but it was excellently produced, and about as good as it gets where I live. I took the night off and took a friend with me to the second row seats I had procured for the evening. For two hours I was enthralled, entertained, and carefree. I walked out of the show creatively recharged and excited to go back to work, because I had left work.

Incidentally, the friend I took with me to Evita was my second call. She's someone with a life too. The first call I made was to a creative with an un-life who turned me down with, "It's just some knock-off production, not a REAL show." So my first friend stayed slogging at work and I went on to have a great evening with another friend. I saw the friend that turned me down a few days later in the grocery store. We chatted for a few minutes and they said to me, "You always have energy, and I'm always tired." I suggested taking a little time off once in a while and they gave me the you-are-phenomenally-crazy look and the conversation ended a few minutes later.

I have creative energy because I take care of myself. I have friends, I have a life outside my industry, and I take part in activities that refuel my mind, heart, and soul. I happen to be someone who can go to Evita and feed off of that for days. Evita is not the point, the creative charge is. Your cup of tea might be motocross, a challenging chess game or a hike in the mountains. Whatever your fuel of choice is, just make sure you aren't living an un-life!

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