I’m continually amazed at the number of highly creative people who never give a thought to career strategy. I often ask people, “What do you want to be doing five years from now?” And all I get are blank stares and silence. Navigating a creative career as a writer, designer, filmmaker, musician, or other creative job is dramatically different from a non-creative job. Expectations are different, attitudes are different, and outcomes are different.
In many cases, you’ll work for leaders who have no idea how to lead creative people. Most of the first bosses I had in my career weren’t just bad bosses. They were staggeringly incapable of leading creative people. But looking back, that may have actually helped me understand early that my future was in my hands. No one else was going to look out for me.
There are plenty of other ways that you’ll find challenges in your creative career, so having a sense of your own value, purpose, and direction is absolutely critical.
In the coming months, I’m going to be writing more about navigating creative careers. Most creative people do great work, and there are plenty of resources about how to take your creativity to the next level. But there’s remarkably few resources on the day to day decisions you need to be making that will get you from where you are to where you want to be. Worse, too many creative people have no clue where that place might be.
After all, no matter how creative you are, if you can’t find an audience, you’ve failed.
Keep coming back, and you’ll see what I mean.