Face facts, my little cupcakes, you are not good at everything.
I know, I know, your mother told you that you could do anything you wanted in life. She did not, however, tell you that you could do everything. And if she did, she was wrong.
photo credit: Casey Serin
Creative people have a bizarre tendency – probably born from the Starving Artist Mindset – to believe that they can do everything. Sadly, it just ain’t so.
Can you have a stab at it? Yes, probably. Will it be any good? Debatable. In truth, other people can often do things better than you and in far less time.
For example, whenever possible I outsource my graphics. I can kind of do graphics but I suck at them: it takes forever and makes me all stabby. Nasty, tricksy graphics, we hates them, Precious.
So I will budget like crazy to hire my wonderful graphics person, Lisa Valuyskaya. Lisa does in a couple of hours what it would take me days of hysterical sobbing to achieve. Ha, who am I kidding? Even with the sobbing, my efforts are pitiful compared to hers. Know why? Because she’s a professional graphic designer and I am not.
Help, help, I have no money
It’s sucky – you’d love to hire someone but your kids/pets/landlord need to eat. It’s just not an option.
In that situation, there are several choices:
Find a creative work-around
Outsource those tasks to parts of yourself
The first three are pretty self-explanatory but what about that last one? Outsourcing to yourself? What the hell?
OK, here’s what it means. When I have a task that I dislike and I can’t afford to hire someone, I try to find an aspect of myself that can deal and then I delegate to that sub-personality.
For example, my Inner Businesswoman is now responsible for financial decisions. I find asking for money difficult, so she does that bit. She overrides my Volunteer Junkie who likes to say things like, ‘oh hey, we could just barter instead’. My Inner Businesswoman is in charge of the bottom line and she reminds my Volunteer Junkie that there are bills to pay and the Inland Revenue does not accept vegetables and eggs, no matter how happy the chickens are.
Right now my Inner Businesswoman is very cross about the state of my book-keeping and is threatening to hire an Inner Accountant.
Another example. I have been struggling with newsletters but I was brushing my teeth the other day when to my surprise, an inner Girl Reporter suddenly turned up. She’s keen as mustard and doesn’t need to be paid because apparently she’s an intern. I hope she likes typing.
Hmm, this could be getting a leetle bit out of hand…
It does work though. Marketing making you cringe? Create your own PR person. Having trouble standing up for yourself? Oh honey, your Inner Diva has that one covered. Need help with the filing? Just access your Inner Secretary
Stock photo of Joan from Mad Men
And no, it doesn’t matter if you’re male, you can still imagine yourself as Joan from Mad Men. You’ve probably got better legs for stockings anyway.
Just don’t blame me if tidying up the studio requires an Inner Archaeologist.
This only works if you can access a part of yourself that is vaguely competent.
My Inner Graphic Designer is clearly an eight year old child who’s prone to temper tantrums and doesn’t understand what’s wrong with Comics Sans. If your Inner Accountant seems like the kind of guy who’s going to run off to Bermuda with your money, you should definitely hire a real one or find a more competent friend you can barter skills with.
Get a hat. Get lots of hats
‘Wearing several different hats’ is a critically important skill for any self-employed person.
I have taken this to its logical conclusion and frequently wear my sequin tiara when I’m working on business stuff. Apparently my Inner Businesswoman is a bit of a princess. But because I do it often, putting on the tiara now sends my brain the message, ‘hey, we’re doing business stuff now’. I’m thinking of expanding this: I’d like a writing hat and an art hat to add to my business tiara.
Dammit, I heard that. No, my art hat will NOT be a beret!
Given the choice between sticking their toe in a blender and having to market themselves, many creative people would have to sit down and think about it.
I understand. It’s cringe-worthy, embarrassing and gruelling putting your delicate, precious, creative endeavours out there.
In my experience, anything that helps you stand slightly apart from your creative work helps immensely. It could be silly hats, a public persona, a pseudonym or parts of yourself temporarily taking charge. Start thinking of yourself as a one-person publishing company instead of just a writer. Hell, delegate to your cuddly toys or draw paper doll alter-egos if it helps. You could even ask the cat to take charge. Actually, no, don’t do that, most cats have no work ethic and they’ll screw things up just to mess with you.
Now excuse me, I have to go, my Inner Businesswoman is tapping her foot, apparently time is money or some such shit…