11 Ways To Nurture Your Creative Spirit While Holding A Day Job

Many creatives will agree that holding a day job could hamper the creative spirit especially when the job is not a creative or challenging one.

According to research from Harvard University, many companies have managerial practices that kill the creative spirit because roles are not assigned based on creativity but rather on productivity. However, till managers reconcile creativity with job descriptions, here are 11 secrets creatives need to know in order to keep their creative spirit alive.

11. Write Out Your Goals

For most creative people the goal is to live a life fully or partially financed by their creativity. To achieve this the first thing is to write down your goals. If you ever thought you had it all in your head, you do not. Write your goals down, it leads to clarity, gives a sense and you will get more things done.

10. Practice In Your Spare Time

Malcolm Gladwell’s book the Outliners recommends 10,000 hours as the number to attain expertise. While the number has been a source of debate, it gives an idea of how much practice is needed to perfect a skill.
Since most of us hold day jobs, we often wonder how do we find time to practice. Here is what you can do.
After work and during weekends, get to know more about your interest. I study my camera, when I get back from work. I experiment shutter speed and low light capabilities of my camera in the dark and learn something new. During the weekends, I ask photographer friends if they have shoots I can come help with. Find time to hone thy craft.

9. Bye Nay Sayers

Being creatives we hear a lot of negativities. “You cannot do it”, “No one will buy this?”. Someone once told me “that is not how you hold a camera” Trust me I was not holding the camera upside down. Hearing demoralizing statements is part of the journey, people will ask you to stop, ask if you are crazy, do not take them personal. Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage you and tell you the truth.
While you need positive people, you do not want someone who will encourage your excesses but someone who will encourage you to be truthful to yourself and encourage your creativity.

8. Nourish Your Soul

Listen, watch, read motivational and educative content. Surround yourself with inspiring and successful people, who have towed the part you are on now. Indulging in these acts have encouraged me greatly. When I feel like giving up and surrendering to a life behind the desk, these books, videos and others give me another push. Try and nourish your soul with positive things this will encourage you to keep your creative spirit alive.

7. Join Creative Platforms

I live in Nigeria, a country where creative works are seen as something for the uneducated, therefore finding creatives who are passionate about what they do and willing to teach is not an easy task. You might be wondering what I did.
I attended creative seminars near me and befriended other creatives in my field. From there I was able to assist photographers and gain more experience. I was only allowed to assist because I asked so do not be shy to ask.
Online I joined lots of creative forums to keep me inspired like Cole’s classroom, Phlearn, Sue Bryce and get constructive criticism on my work. These are photography forums but I am quite sure all creative categories have forums so join.

6. Do Not Be Too Tired

It is easy to get involved in your day job, and just eat and fall asleep. That’s how you die creatively. Learn how to dedicate three to four hours after work to your passion. Most nights I fall at sleep on my phone or laptop researching how to take myself a better photographer and writer. I wake up before dawn to write a short story or edit a photograph.
This will motivate you: Michael Punke the author of “The Revenant” holds a day job as the deputy United States ambassador to the World Trade Organization.

5. Don’t Forget Your Lover

My boyfriend is a constant supporter of my creative spirit, but with work and weekend shoots I barely have time for him.
I try as much as I can to spend weekends with him. We do fun things like cooking dinner together and laugh about our colleagues at work to cool off. There really is no point being a lonely creative make time for our lover.

4. Believe In Yourself

As creatives we are constantly in doubt of our capabilities. We question ever single art we create until we share it with the world and receive tremendous feedback. This self-doubt sickness is borne out of our fear of rejection. I constantly thought, I could not take the pictures I saw on social media or have my writings published anywhere least of all a popular website but I have done these things by simply believing in myself and giving it a go. You too can just believe in yourself and take action the world is waiting to receive you.

3. Comfort Zones Are For Babies

Who wants to be a baby forever? I know you do not. Leave your comfort zone. This will mean, you will face rejection, be scared most of the time, but you will turn to gold. A friend asked me to cover an event and I ended up with blurred photos. Totally embarrassing but I learnt focus and weddings are chaotic for photographers. As creatives there will be embarrassing days but you will grow and turn to gold.

2. Grow Thick Skin

Your thick skin will make you grow. Your work will be criticized some from people who love you and some who have no idea what they are saying. Learn to distinguish good advice form bad advice. That being said when you get constructive criticism learn not to be angry, instead ask how you can improve and work with it. You’ll offer your services to some people and they will turn you down, this does not mean you are not good enough do not let it bother you. Pitch to the next person.

1. Keep A Day Job

You need a day job because you will have bills to pay and equipment to buy. I know day jobs can be annoying for creatives because must of them do not allow us to be innovative in any way, but we need these jobs. Yes, there will be times you will feel like quitting your day job and taking your chances. For those ready take your chances. For those of us still figuring things out, do this: visualize your future goals this will help you get through. I remember when I worked at a call center and I had joggle work and getting a masters degree those were dark days, but I never stopped seeing the end goal.

Hold your day job, and hone your craft when you start making more money on your creative job, than your day job then you can consider quitting.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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