Slave to Creativity

Fair Warning: I won’t be the best at what I do!


For decades now, the business and industrial worlds have been busy telling us that you must be working full bore all the time for as much time as you can manage… and then some. The key to promotions and bonuses, they say, is to work overtime, nights and weekends, researching and learning on your own time without pay to get ahead. Just doing your job well enough and gaining experience isn’t enough to better your position, only to stay where you are, and in a lot of cases even lose ground.

As we journey into the age of enlightenment, this situation is getting exposed as asinine and damaging to the psyche, physical well being, and is actually counterproductive. Even though the business world is still espousing this belief as a virtue. There’s a war on.

I just read an article that triggered something in me, and ticked me right off. It’s an article on creativity, and creative personalities and how saying ‘no’ is an important tool to help the creative person succeed. Here is the article if you’d like to read it.

Even though I agree with the article about saying ‘No’ and the ramifications of that, what upset me about this article is that it is using the same kind of language to inadvertently shame and control creatives. And they are portraying it as a virtue. The article says things like “Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations.” and “No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation”.

I saw a meme on Facebook that said something to the effect of “I’ve never met a ‘Great Person’ who has not had a troubled or challenging past”. What a backhanded way of saying “If you haven’t had a challenging or troubled past, you’ll never be ‘great’. To that I say ‘that’s absolutely NOT true’.

Regardless of what all these ‘helpful’, ‘inspirational’ sayings advocate, there is now pressure on creative people to work full time, all the time on their creative processes and projects, and damn the consequences. Well, having gone back to school for animation as an adult, I was ‘competing’ with post-high-school-aged kids. Most of whom still lived at home, and had no other real responsibilities and were free to work on their stuff day, night, and weekend. I, on the other hand, I had rent to make, as well as all the other bills, and I had a young daughter. Because of a divorce, I only got to see her every other weekend, and I’ll be damned if I was going to spend any less time with her and neglect her because I was trying to be the absolute best animator in the world and work for Disney. That sentiment is no less strong now, after leaving school.

Over the years, I have also found and married the love of my life, and we have built a wonderful magical world together. Should I shove that aside to spend all my waking hours at the drawing board? If I want to be “Great”, I’m told that I should (or automatically would).


If that is what it takes to be great, then forget it! I’m not buying in. I love spending time with my family. I love my wife and daughter and won’t give them an ounce less love and attention and TIME than they deserve and that feeds all our souls. I want weekends and vacations. I want to be healthy and unstressed. I want to travel and see the world. And I want to ENJOY all that!

I refuse to accept that stress they are trying to make me feel with that unattainable carrot of being the “Best at what I do”. Therefore, I’m giving up the idea of being great. I will still draw and create. I will still strive toward goals I would like to obtain. But I will only be as good as that will make me. And If I never get into Pixar because I don’t have willingness to abandon my life to make the time to get as good as they want me to be. Tough. Their loss. I’ll be happy traveling to Australia, the British Isles, and Africa with my family and living a wondrous life.

I hope you all enjoy my ‘only so good’ work.

Craig Smith.



2 thoughts on “Slave to Creativity

  1. One of the things I told my children when they were growing up was to find a career that they would love doing. Something that allowed them to use their unique talents and tap into their bliss. That doing something important to YOU is more important than anything else in your life as it would be taking up the majority of your waking ours for many years. Being able to have the courage to do that is a rare thing in this day and age! You have accomplished it very early in your life! Keep up the good work, you’re likely to be around for decades, I’m guessing you’ll hit a 100. Happy people live longer!!


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