The Balance: Creativity vs Drudgery

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Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or small, has its states of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle, and a victory.
~ Gandhi

Now, running a business is certainly not on the same level as liberating a country, but Ghandi’s statement still rings true for me in the context of my creative business journey.

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you will have discovered that there is a WHOLE lot more ‘drudgery’ involved that you first thought. Drudgery being endless email, admin, stocktaking, organizing, packing… and even, perhaps, the actual making of your products. Now, I get a lot of satisfaction out of the business side of what I do – learning new skills and techniques, etc. – so it’s not the business ‘stuff’ per se that is drudgery, it’s more the repetitive tasks that hold no challenge. I’m a bit Gen Y like that – I like being challenged to learn new things constantly, and get bored if that’s not happening.

I designed my Epheriell range so that almost every piece I sell is remakeable. On one hand, this saves me an immense amount of drudgery – the photographing, editing, writing descriptions, tagging – because when something sells, all I have to do is hit the ‘relist’ button (or, nothing at all on my own site).

However, when you’re making the same pair of earrings for the 234th time, a certain sense of drudgery is certainly present.

I’m going to make a pretty solid assumption here: You got into your business because you loved creating things.

You love working with your materials to create something new and challenging. That’s where we feel the buzz, the satisfaction of creation, when it all works out and voila, we’ve brought something new into being.

However, the day-to-day business of, well, business involves an awful lot of non-creative tasks that are unavoidable. Sometimes, it gets to the point where we feel that we are doing nothing BUT these unavoidable non-creative tasks. And that just sucks the joy out of it all, doesn’t it?

The only way around this that I have found is to deliberately carve out ‘creative time.’

This is time where we set aside those ever-present ‘to-dos’ and just allow ourselves the space to create. The way I do this with my jewellery business is to release collections twice a year – kinda like the fashion houses do. This means I am forced to be creative! I have to come up with a coherent range of pieces, make them, perfect them, and then share them with the world.

This process satisfies my creative needs, and reminds me why I started my business in the first place: because I loved creating!

Do you find it a struggle to balance drudgery & creativity in your business? How do you deal with it?

7 thoughts on “The Balance: Creativity vs Drudgery

  1. Yes! There’s no way around the drudgery! Whether every piece is unique, or you find a way to recreate the same idea… have to find a way to appreciate the moments of monotony.. They bring light to the dynamic!

  2. So true! I’m still struggling with how to balance it. When I get burned out on the day to day stuff, I take off with my camera and go find ways to be creative. I think if I was better disciplined my sales would be better, but all the promoting and similar things you’re supposed to do just aren’t up my alley.

  3. Hi Jess,

    Great topic! Most of the time, I’m still pretty thrilled to have a business that’s growing, but occasionally I do get that boredom. I found that it’s a signal to me to try something new in my business – a new product, a new technique, a new marketing strategy. If I’m really desperate, I force myself to take a day completely off from the business. I always come back with renewed enthusiasm.


  4. I had to change my attitude about social networking because I viewed it as messing around on the computer when I could be “working” in my shop. Well, now I tell myself, I’ll “work” on the computer for a couple of hours while the woodstove heats up the Shiva shop. Funny how just that small change in attitude made a difference.

  5. I set up chunks of time now to work on things. For example, I usually like to start off the day by doing light admin work, to kind of warm up. Then I have a big chunk afterwards for the important stuff. Right now, that’s designing my next collection. The drudgery is urgent, but the creative stuff is…essential!

  6. I hear you. I really want to make rocks and I am stuck making cups. I enjoy making cups, but I really really want to make some rocks. But people don’t want to buy rocks, they want to buy cups. *grins*

  7. I meant to add that I balance things out by having lots of exhibitions through out the year where I can show my rocks or graffiti covered shells or dead bird bowls. These works rarely ever sell but I need to make them and the conversations that ensue are enough for me. The cups pay my rent, the rocks soothe my soul.

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