Running a creative business

Running a creative business is almost a misnomer; the act of creating isn’t easily controlled by the logical business side. But yet that what’s I attempt to do on a daily basis. It might explain why I frequently feel conflicted, there is a constant sense of give and take.

When I’m creating my most interesting (to me at least!) work I need to be in my own head space. That means that I can’t have deadlines that give me no freedom, if it isn’t working I need to be able to sit back and think about it. What does work? Is there a different way to look at the problem so that it makes sense? Can I pull out or even re orientate a section so that it changes from just ok to amazing? I need to be able to start a morning feeling that all I need to think about is creation and allow myself the artistic frustration that produces the best work. If you’re under time pressure you will ‘settle’ for good enough rather than reworking. Or if there are so many outside pressures that you just can’t find the right frame of mind. If this happens for several months running it creates such a huge feeling of frustration, like you’re almost getting it right but just not hitting the high notes.

Then you need to flip over to the other side, the business side. The decisions you make are money ones for the most part. How is your time best spent so that you get well paid for your work? What new avenues should you pursue and what old ones should be closed down? It’s very easy to keep walking down the same comfortable paths with blinkers on, denying that anything is changing. It’s sometimes hard to be honest with yourself that you need to change!

Life with 4 boys seems to be getting busier and busier. My work time is being squeezed down very tightly and it would appear that these days I’m the one that suffers most. The business end is being done, the patterns are being posted, newsletters are sent out and future plans are being made. However I’m having such a hard time finding free head space, so much of my mental effort right now is to make sure life runs smoothly, lunches made, children dropped (3 DIFFERENT SCHOOLS!), Suzuki violin class attended, stock pot loaded, dishes washed, kitchen swept, dog walked, and then if I’m lucky 2-3 hours work before…. afternoon bags packed, snacks made, children collected, homework done, dropped to gymnastics/drama/piano then home to cook next dinner, clean more dishes, chase violin/piano practice, homework, bedtime and FINALLY knitting time. It’s both wonderful and terrifying being the mother to so many. With so much to remember it’s not really too surprising that mental space is a rare commodity for me. I think I may be overdoing it these days, constant colds with coughs that I can’t shake :-(

So while life is so good, it is perhaps just a little too hectic these days. My little house of cards would appear to be stacked a little too high I think!

12 thoughts on “Running a creative business

  1. I usually don’t post much, but reading your entry this morning touched something in me. Creative freedom is an important commodity and the struggle between that and making money is at totally opposite ends of the spectrum. Given your current “hectic” life and the fact that your body is telling you to slow down is important to pay attention to. If you can slow down the business and still live the life you are accustom to, I would recommend slowing down and giving yourself a sabbatical to recharge not only your physical self, but your creative self. It is a fact that doing something you love becomes a chore when you make it about earning money. I love all your designs and they are my perfect ascetic fit and will gladly wait especially since I have a bunch of your other patterns in the queue to knit. Take care and I wish you creative space.

  2. slow it down some? your children will grow and mature and move away and
    you will have more time than you want. Us knitters will still be here then. (and thrilled to see more of your creations)

  3. Slow it down some? Your children will grow and move away and then you will have more time than you want. All your knitter fans will still be here waiting. Hugs

  4. This intensity of activity, particularly with the children, won’t last forever, Carol, but I know how difficult it can be to weave the threads of so many people in a meaningful way. Creativity needs to be nurtured without the clutter of everyday…would it be an option to have someone to help out with some housework / school drop-offs? Just listen to your body and, if needs be, take a little time out x

  5. I was thinking thoughts similar to sdmags above. I have been where you are now! Kids take so much out of us, but obviously give us so much back. We are running, running, running and then suddenly they are gone. Hopefully they are happy and productive and have learned so much from you and your example. Give yourself time to breathe, and enjoy those little human beauties! You’ll have tons of time in the future! I also love your books and designs! Keep creating, as you need to – but breathe too.

  6. Someone told me once,- remember you are working two jobs. And because you want to prove yourself, you’re working harder than anyone else at BOTH those jobs.

    An article I read said, -If your job of running the household (and one with teenagers at that!) was transferred to the business world, there wouldn’t be a job description appropriate enough nor salary big enough. The nearest equivalent would be a CEO without a management team. Life Insurance policies to cover you wouldn’t be affordable.

    The good and trusting and faithful will wait for you.



  7. Speaking as one down the road of life a little further than you I would encourage you to enjoy the time you have with your boys because they will be gone before you know it. Once they have flown the nest you will wish for those days to happen all over again. I love your creativity, I love your beautiful patterns but there will be more hours in your day added sooner than you think and plenty of time to create to your heart’s content. You are the hub of your home and the time you spend doing that is priceless!

  8. Sounds familiar, and I only have 50% of the kids that you have ;-)

    If it’s possible to get some help with the legwork/housework etc then you should try and do that. Could you delegate some chores to the boys? After all, if you get sick the house of cards will fall down and then other people will have to be brought into the mix anyway. You need some time just to rest and then time to get creative.

    If you tread water for a bit then what harm? think of it as hibernating great ideas ;-)

  9. I have to agree that this post hit home. When my four kids were all little, I thought life couldn’t get any crazier. There were so many little hands and little bodies that wanted hold onto me and needed me to feed and clean and comfort them. I craved adult interaction like a drowning woman.

    No that the oldest ones a teenagers and the youngest are quite independent, it a completely different kind of crazy. They are all going so many directions! I want each child to have opportunities to thrive, but I have a hard time even getting them to three different schools. (and you know this is crazy! Different forms to sign, emails, organizations, volunteer requests at each school!) When someone offers me a social experience, my gut response is, oh, no! Not another one!

    My husband has recently stron armed me into carving out dedicated time for my own pursuits, whether fiber, business, or education related. It’s been very difficult. As you said, even getting into the right head space takes time and calm, and there a constant external worries and phone calls about forgotten trumpets. But I’m VERY grateful that he’s pushing me on this. I agree that “a man should not run faster than he has strength” but the seemingly-selfish personal creative time is also renewing, and makes us bettere able to respond well emotionally to those around us.

    I like the housekeeper ideas above. Wish I could have one, but in the meantime, I will keep struggling on this teeter totter we call “balance”.

  10. Carol
    I love your work and agree that we each need time for creative work and expression. However, my children are in their 30’s now and the time flew by. When you are in the thick of it it feels overwhelming and as if you will never have time for yourself. In reality it is a short phase in a long life ahead of you. To me it seems like just last week that I was in your spot. In a blink of the eye the life you describe will be changed and gone as you move on through the phases. If I had it to do again I would savor each moment with my children. I look at these wonderful grown adults that my little ones have become and I miss the children they were and all the fun we had. Love the moment you are in now– it passes all too quickly.

  11. I got to your website through Ravelry and started clicking around, found this post, and knew I was meant to read it, even though it’s an old one now. I have four children and I totally get where you are! There is not enough creative time, not enough head space. But I have taken to heart, deeply and truly, the beautiful advice given here in your comments. This time is fleeting, though the days sometimes drag by, and I don’t want to miss it. So I am going to trust that in my future, there will indeed be more time than I know what to do with, and for now, just visit my sewing room as often as I can. Good luck to you in all your endeavors. Priorities seems to be the word to the wise for us all.

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