The Reluctant Entrepreneur

While participating
in a zoom meeting a while ago - I no longer remember which one - one of the other participants talked about helping others build their businesses and was looking for some feedback on wording she was thinking of using.  I instantly and very physically reacted in a negative way.  Not because of her - because of me.  I have issues. 

I suspect what I struggle with the most as an artist is the term entrepreneur.  I assume I am not the only one.  Whatever medium an artist works in - writer, composer, singer, painter, sculptor, dancer, flowers, weaving, makeup, design - our heart tells us we are creators. End of story.  Somehow to sully our fingertips in the business side is undesirable.  To brand ourselves as business people - entrepreneurs - is grating.

There are no hard and fast rules here. I know several artists who are excellent entrepreneurs and own the title proudly.  In my experience, however, they are in the minority.  Am I right? Who knows. I just know I chaff at the label every time it comes up, even though it is in fact true.

To practice our art as a career means being involved in marketing, promotion and selling.  Those who have achieved a certain level of financial success can enjoy the luxury of paying other professionals to handle the business side of things, leaving them free to concentrate solely on creating new work.  But until an artist reaches that level - if they ever do - they are left having to embrace two roles.  

Before I started this article, I was playing around with imagery on what those two conflicting rolls felt like to me.  What felt right was the idea of twins - one easy, one hard.  One twin represented the creative side of what I do. She is my muse, whispering inspiration in my ear, drawing me to the computer to write and cheering me on.  The more I feed her, the more she whispers.

The other twin is the difficult child.  She demands attention, brow beats me when I don't spend any time dealing with the business side of things and just generally distracts me when I am trying to write.  "You should...." is her favorite way to begin a sentence.  

No two children are alike. Each needs love and attention for who they are, exactly as they are.  I know this. Somehow I need to find a way to balance the demands of the business side of what I do with the need for quiet empty space where creativity can arise.  Unfortunately, this is still a challenge for me. I don't have any easy answers.  

Where does this leave me?  One idea I have been playing around with is summed up in the term "showing up." I embraced that this year in terms of my writing and found a way to create a habit of showing up to write every day (well Monday through Friday) at the same time.  It has been a game changer. Whether I write a blog, a magazine article, a draft chapter for a new book or a new poem - I write.  

Perhaps it is time I treat the business side of being a writer the same way.  Create a habit of showing up a different time during my day and committing that time to working on marketing and promotion.  I'm not yet sure where that will fit best. Picking the right time in your day to create a new habit is extremely important. It must feel a part of the natural flow of your day.  But I believe it can be done. 

Here's to creating a new habit that will find a way to give both of my twins - the easy and the difficult one - the time and focus they deserve.  Hopefully this will help to alleviate the guilt I feel and bring a sense of peace. 

I am truly The Reluctant Entrepreneur.