Creativity as a Calling: Putting Value into "Hobby"
My mission is to bring creativity to everyone. Yes, there are a multitude of creatives talking about creativity, but many of them are doing so from a lens of creative business. There is nothing wrong with that, and I think that’s the goal of many creatives out there, including myself - to make a full time or even part time income with their creative work. It is validating, it makes the effort and energy and focus you put on creativity, the time it takes away from your family all worth it, measurable; a justification. But wouldn’t it be so uplifting to believe all of those things about your creativity when it is a hobby, when you have no wish to turn it into a business or marketable skill, but to know that you are fully validated, justified, and loved for the passion you have for your creativity on those merits alone.
We had an interesting homily this past week celebrating vocations. And it really got me thinking about the path creativity has led me on my entire life. It hasn’t been a simple hobby, or a business route, or a have to, or an option. It has been and is most definitely now, a way of choosing to live my life. It is a calling, a vocation - in the same way that motherhood, grandparenthood, priesthood, or leadership, is a vocation that we dedicate ourselves to in the act of service to others. It is something we are called to do, something inside draws us towards these opportunities, towards these choices. It’s not an accident that you are a creative, it's not by chance you stumbled into making things, you were called or pulled or searching for something to satisfy the need to create. It’s not just an act of doing, it is a way of living.
In my life creativity has always held a seat at the table. And in recent years it has brought me back to myself in a way I wasn’t even aware of until I sat in church and listened to the priest talk about vocations and callings. Those of you who do not hold much stock in or believe in religion, stay with me, this is not turning into a religious blog. But it did occur to me that my recent resurgence and energy investing into creativity was filling this space I’d opened when I stopped attending church years before, and it was the path that lead me back to it. As a creative soul I built ritual around my creativity, I erected boundaries around my creative time, I gave myself permission to show up and back myself and choose myself and give voice and value to my creativity when I didn’t really believe I had any. If I wasn’t teaching dance I was writing, then I started blogging, now I’ve embarked on a journey of embroidery. I have naturally come to those activities, I have been called by inspiration and joy to create. Even when it’s just for myself, even when I’m not making money or contributing in what society tells me is a meaningful way, I value my creativity as much as my career, as much as my family., as much as my faith.
My faith for many years was rooted in creativity in the act of making, finding purpose in it - that purpose being my own peace and grace and joy. That is enough. Full stop.
I believe that creatives have some work to do rewriting this narrative that we need to justify the purpose or value of our creative calling. That the word hobby isn’t enough. That our joy and peace and delight are not worthy of respect and resources. A simple shift from “It needs to produce monetary value to be worthy of energy” to “An activity that fills my cup is worthy of all of my energy” is empowering. The thing about creativity is, it will give back what you put in, and others will follow your lead. If you respect your creativity, others will as well. If you value your creative time, others will uphold the boundaries you put in place. If you give time and effort to building a practice, your creativity will grow in abundance.
Three Tips to Treat you Creativity as a Calling
Change the way you view “hobby”
Hobby has become this word for the rich and retired. There is a guilt narrative shrouding hobby in this isolating cloak of unattainability. It forces us to believe that we need to make our hobbies a hustle. However, when we do that, or rather feel forced to do that, the joy and rest that the hobby encouraged goes right down the drain and instead it propagates stress and hustle culture narratives to thrive. But if we could change our mindset to protect our hobby? We can! It doesn’t start with erecting complicated boundaries to keep others out and away, if begins with deciding to respect ourselves and those hobbies that bring us joy. If we respect them, others will too. If we invite others into those spaces, to be present while we are creating, talk to them about the ways in which we experience joy and rest from them, they learn to respect those boundaries of time and space when we put them in place, because we respect them, and they are invited into that understanding. Hobby doesn’t mean useless thing that takes time away from important jobs. Hobby means space to rest and explore and have fun with no expectations except engaging with joy.
Re-write your narrative around value
Society’s view of value is often linked to money and productivity. We live in a capitalistic society, that’s just the way it is. However, not everything we do should be linked to productivity or hustle. If we value our creativity, our rest, our time, just as we do our job, our family, and (hopefully) our sleep, we need to show ourselves that we value them. How can we do this? Dedicate your time and energy to the things you value, and when you value what you do, others will too! This may be easier said than done if you are held captive by narratives that do not align with our inner values and beliefs. This is where the re-writing needs to happen. Instead of valuing hustle, value peace. Instead of placing value on productivity and output, place it on rest and rejuvenation. Instead of valuing busy, value intentional work.
Build Boundary and Ritual to enforce Respect
We’ve touched on this in other sections, but really and truly, building boundaries and ritual around your creative practice will reinforce respect on all fronts for your hobby as a meaningful activity in your life. Often these boundaries start with you, just you, adhering to a game plan, acknowledging the space, the time, the intention behind your hobby. You build these boundaries for yourself first, and ask others to respect them later. That’s where ritual comes in. Many of us have a morning routine or ritual and one before we go to bed. If you have children, you know you have a bedtime ritual - showers, jammies, snackies, stories, snuggles, the whole production. Why do we do this? Because we value that time, we want to honour that time with our children and teach them to honour the time in their day to calm themselves and get ready for sleep, to value sleep as a necessary and important time of day. We can do that by building ritual around our hobbies as well. Whether you light a candle and play have a playlist to get you in the mindset to create, or you have a clean up ritual as you wrap up your sessions, these rituals teach you to get in the zone, be intentional, and respectful of your hobby space and time.
As with all things, we go through phases of life, so we do need to keep some flexibility in our boundaries and rituals, but once you have set the standard baseline of respect and value in your hobby, it cannot be taken away.