October 29, 2008 in Business



So you want a career being creative? Fine. First, let’s get real.

Exuberance for a “career doing something creative” is on the rise. Unfortunately, people’s understanding of what that requires is not. And those who work hard at their creative trade are tired of hearing how lucky they are to have a career that’s “so cool” and easy to do.

A writer with smoky circles under his eyes who averages 10 hours a day slumped over his computer creating advertising campaigns for a half dozen clients says he hears it daily. “Last week a woman told me, ‘What you do is so neat. I’ve always wanted to write. It would be so fun to sit around and be creative. If you ever get stuck, let me know. I’d love to come up with ideas.’ ”

He had to restrain himself because, “I find this extremely offensive. My work isn’t ‘whoopee this is fun!’ It’s clients who want 12 ideas that better all be great by 2 p.m. It’s the discipline of sitting down and staring at a blank page with an immovable deadline, plus skill, instincts and training, and it’s real work to be successful at it.”

It’s insulting, he says, because “No one goes up to their accountant and says, ‘Let me do the books for your clients.’ They wouldn’t say to a surgeon, ‘Let me fill in for that operation.’ There’s a lack of respect for what it takes to be good in a creative field. Because everyone supposedly learned to string words together in school, they figure, ‘Hey, I could do that.’ ”

The anyone-can-do-it mentality is a real sore spot. A filmmaker said, “People think if they buy the screenwriting software package, they can write a screenplay, or if they get a digital camera they’ll be a moviemaker.”

He cringes when someone says, “I always thought I should write a screenplay. How do I start and get rich and famous?”

“I invested three years of my life hitchhiking to come up with that one scene you think took me one hour to write,” he says. “While my friends took traditional jobs making good money, I drove cabs, waited tables, dug trenches and put in barbed wire fences meeting people, understanding human nature, broadening my life experience so I could understand how people talk and see things from various walks of life.”

Gannett News Service

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