Finding a creative outlet when you work as a creative

Marketing, advertising and related industries are both a blessing and a curse for the creatively inclined. Being paid to do something that comes naturally is a wonderful feeling – and positive feedback is nice, too. (Who doesn’t like receiving compliments?)

What creatives rarely talk about is the impact that work can have on their personal creative projects. The writer who never quite gets around to working on the novel or screenplay she started years ago. The designer who hasn’t touched a paintbrush or pen that wasn’t attached to a computer in who knows how long. The list goes on and on.

Simply put, when you spend all day writing or designing, it can be difficult to get excited about doing more of the same after hours. Bringing your creative a-game to work doesn’t have to mean giving up your artistic soul, however. You just have to find a new outlet.

For me, that outlet turned out to be cooking. My husband is the default chef in our house, but I try to get in at least a few meals a week. I’ve noticed over time that my contributions in the kitchen increase dramatically whenever I feel particularly stressed or creatively spent at work. After an intense day writing about technology, my mind begins to wander the grocery store aisles to the point that meal planning isn’t a chore – it’s an outlet. Particularly intense projects can result in me banishing everyone from the kitchen so I can create some personal Chopped challenges of my own.

That’s not to say I’m always successful. I’ve made some terrible dishes through the years, often when I was just so physically spent that I couldn’t see (or think) straight. I’ve written some rather dreadful things in my life as well. Learning from mistakes is just part of the creative process, no matter what the medium. Plus some of my dumbest mistakes have led to some of my best ideas.

By finding a new outlet for my creativity, I have freed myself to enjoy my work again. There are still days when producing copy on a deadline or about a topic that is relatively new to me can be challenging. But somehow, knowing there is a beautiful piece of fish or bounty of bell peppers waiting for me in the kitchen gives me the inspiration I need to finish the day on a creative high note.

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