Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Living a Part-time (Full-time) Creative Life

"Being a rock n' roll star ain't a part-time gig." - Steven Van Zandt
So, you’ve decided that either your job is too lucrative to quit for the paltry income an arts career may provide. Or, you’ve just chosen to keep creative talent special and not your main job, even though it may be fun (basically my last article scared you off the idea!)

Well, I’m here to tell you that 90% of the music artists and songwriters I’ve worked with over the last 30 years are just like you. They are folks who have regular jobs, or are stay at home moms or dads, or just enjoy the outlet that their artistic calling gives them in the nooks and crannies of their life. 

Now with that said, it’s important to note that not all 90% of people who do something creative part-time treat it lightly. In fact, half of those people, and indeed half of the people I have worked with who create art, music, write, or whatever, are completely driven by it, even if they have a full-time job doing something else.

I call this a part-time (full-time) creative life. I did it for years when I worked other jobs besides music, and in many ways, I still do it! 

Even as I go about being a busy big picture guy and executive producer for artists and songwriters, I have MY music, writing, and other brands that I am very serious about it. Just like you, it occupies my every waking thought and is what I let my mind dream about. I plan what I’m going to do with my different personal artistic brands, and I work full-time on them in my mind, even though I am also working full-time for others.

How does this work? How do you keep a full-time artistic life going while also working full-time? Well, here’s how I do it.

Lists, Lists, Lists
"Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort." - Paul J. Meyer
I often say if it wasn’t for Evernote, I'd have no idea how I would do everything I do. Really any note program, or even a hard copy journal or notebook that you always keep with you will do. What I like about Evernote is that it’s with me no matter what device I’m working on or where I am. Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, it doesn’t matter. Likely one of those devices is going to be with me wherever I might be. That way as an idea comes along randomly for a new song, story, production process, blog post, business idea, or just something that I want to add to one of those, I am able to jot it down.

I keep lists on everything. From my To Do list where I keep everything I need to do for clients, songlists of each client, new song, blog, or business ideas, to my own personal To Do lists for each music or business brand I am trying to work on of my own.

When I am bored, or wanting to be creative, I go to my lists and edit. They remind me what I need to be doing with my time. I pick the one that interests me most at that moment, and I get to it. 
"I make lists to keep my anxiety level down. If I write down 15 things to be done, I lose that vague, nagging sense that there are an overwhelming number of things to be done, all of which are on the brink of being forgotten." - Mary Roach
Pick Your Spots

Where in your schedule can you carve out a few hours to work on your craft? Is it early in the morning before everyone gets up? Is it an hour after everyone goes to bed? Is it a few hours at a bright and sunny coffee shop where you can sit alone with some headphones on, tune out the world and focus on your creative goals and ideas? It is a lunch break where you can sit under a tree and add to or edit your lists? This can can let you see progress as you cross out things you’ve done towards your goals.

It’s absolutely crucial to have these times you can focus. Maybe that time needs to be spent actually creating and not tending to lists. Maybe you have times set aside for both. But with a busy full-time day job, and especially if you also have a family to be there for, it is absolutely imperative that you have this time set aside.
"You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it." - Charles Buxton
Don’t Forget to Create

It is pretty easy to get all wrapped up in planning and never get to the creating. Lists can help, because they remind you of that creative thing you need to do. But the DOING can be the real problem, and it doesn't matter where you are or when it is.
"They can put me in a jungle. Still, I can create." - M. F. Husain
Maybe it’s a selfie video of a new cover song. Maybe it’s to sit down and finish that chapter or section of your book that is holding up your novel? Whatever it is, you need to get to it. It’s too easy to live wanting to do something creative, planning to do something, and never get anything done because life happens. I regret all the years I ignored my music and writing because I was working too much or being distracted by other things.

Above ALL creating is the most important thing you can do if this is your calling. So without endangering your family, your health, or job, it’s probably your next important thing in life. 
"A creative person has to create. It doesn't really matter what you create. If such a dancer wanted to go out and build the cactus gardens where he could, in Mexico, let him do that, but something that is creative has to go on." -  Katherine Dunham
Share Your Talent
"Oh, how miserable it is to have no one to share your sorrows and joys, and, when your heart is heavy, to have no soul to whom you can pour out your woes." - Frederic Chopin
Even though I was ignoring my own music and writing during some years, I still was working hard for other artists and songwriters. I don’t feel that time was wasted as I was sharing the creative talents God gave me. Maybe some of you reading this use your talents in church or education for others. But there is also sharing with others your talents from YOU. And that is something we all are usually somewhat reticent to do. It’s not easy to shine a spotlight on yourself. It doesn’t come naturally for everyone. But we have to do it.

It’s not about being a “star” or quitting your job to pursue this full-time like we talked about last time. It’s about sharing the talents God gave you publicly. Now this can be done in your church, or even via video now via Facebook or YouTube. It doesn’t have to be a solo thing. But finding ways for people too consume your talents in some way is key. 

If it’s your own work it may be difficult to share in your church or school for many reasons. The internet provides many options for authors, singers, songwriters, artists, and more to the world. There are even ways to make part-time income using your creative talents on services such as UpWork, Fiverr, and Thumbtack.

Yes, your full-time, part-time creative life can make you some money too. And in fact it should! But it doesn’t have to. You could choose to give everything you create away for free, and there are some reasons you should think about that. But that another post.

Have a great week, Creatives!


You can live whichever creative life suits you, full-time or part-time, just do one! For more creative blog posts like this one, go to

1 comment:

  1. This sounds so much like the type of life I'm living right now. working a full time job to make sure normal everyday things keep rolling smoothly as possible-but every other minute is spent on being creative, jotting down ideas, thinking of ways to share my inspiration, looking for ways to make connections, etc at times I found my full time job gets in the way sometimes.Thank you Eric for this blog it helps me to keep my pen to paper and stay FOCUSED!!!


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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at