Wednesday , 23 July 2014
Today I celebrate one year of self-employment. Yep, one year of coffee shop lurking, pyjama pant wearing, and creating into the wee hours of the night. One year of thrilling new experiences, learning, and growth. Also, one year of occasional mind-shattering boredom and guilt.

Keep it Fresh: When Your Passion Becomes Your Job

a very Juicy Scrub, indeed. Undiluted sugar scrub with citrus, so refreshing

Keep it Fresh: When Your Passion Becomes Your Job

I am  celebrating over one year of self-employment. Yep, one year of coffee shop lurking, pajama pant wearing, and creating into the wee hours of the night. One year of thrilling new experiences, learning, and growth. Also, one year of occasional mind-shattering boredom and guilt.

My story may seem backward to many Etsyers: I quit my day job before I even had an Etsy shop. All I wanted to do was what I loved best. In the end, I turned my all-time favourite hobbies (besides eating) into my professions. I became a freelance copywriter and created Stark Skincare (house of STARK on Etsy).

For months I worked with passion, and I worked hard.

Then at some point this past winter, I was bored. Really bored. I would have unproductive days or days of whining about “having” to write. Don’t get me wrong, I was still happy and didn’t regret my choice of becoming a freelance writer/kitchen alchemist. Yet there was always a big BUT lurking around (and I don’t mean the big butt I grew this winter when I refused to go outside for days on end).

I know that most small-business owners out there are nodding their heads in solemn understanding. None of us would change a thing (besides more sales) and yet there’s that sad moment when we realize that we might resent our passion. We enjoy our craft, but when we have to create, it loses all its juicy flavor.

That’s the big BUT. That lovely hobby, once so exciting and new, is now looking too familiar, and is on the verge of becoming a nagging task rather than an exhilarating rush of creative self-expression.

Honestly, it made me panic.

What if I began to hate writing? Even worse, what if I began to dislike natural skincare? What if all the passion just leaked away, never to return? I know many crafters have felt the same way. I know because I’d spend hours on forums (yes, instead of making things), reading and chatting with like-minded creative people.

Luckily, I found a solution. Or rather, the solution found me. Literally. It came to me in my email inbox.

Two newsletters arrived: one about cooking, another about yoga. It occurred to me then that I could simply cheat on my old hobbies with new hobbies, and not feel a tinge of guilt!

Yoga and cooking are my long-lost loves, but ones I had neglected while trying to hone my other two crafts. For months I dedicated myself entirely to writing and product-making, snubbing out all else as meddlesome wastes of time. However, this was only impeding my creativity.

For me, both yoga and cooking are complementary to the fundamentals of my Etsy shop (house of STARK): the joy of simplicity, the thrill of working with awesome ingredients, the connection we have with our bodies, and the daily processes we use to nourish ourselves.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but picking up some new cookbooks and dusting off my yoga mat gave me the creative boost I needed to keep going forward. Once again I would wake up in the middle of the night just to write down a good idea. Once again I would rather create something than watch a movie, and would lose myself in my craft.

Simply by doing things that were for me and me alone, I was able to rekindle my creative fires. By opening myself to different experiences, I was able to regain perspective on my craft.

Think back to when you started your Etsy shop. Are you still as excited to create new items as you used to be? If you’re not, or worse if you almost come to dread it, then pause and take a step back. Your creative outlet should never feel like punishment, so remember to keep your creative juices flowing by keeping it fresh.

Take a mini-vacation (even if it’s just an afternoon in a park or in the country), take a new class, read books, get together with creative friends, do yoga or squash or train for a marathon. Engage yourself fully in activities that may have very little to do with your Etsy shop.

New hobbies will not only help you kick back and relax, but will also complement your craft, and maybe even redefine how it grows. This will not seem obvious at first, but solutions, inspiration, and new connections will begin to pop up when and where you least expect them.

Your other interests will be your path back to loving your craft.
What other hobbies have you been neglecting, or meaning to try?blog ad1

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47 comments

  1. I’m going snowboarding.

  2. Hola !!!
    Tonight will celebrate your first year of self employment.

    Very nice article!

    Un abrazo
    Silvia

  3. Reading, watching movies, yoga, running, knitting, … pretty much all of them… I have been neglecting all of my hobbies… I guess I should choose one or two and schedule some time for them!

  4. Great article and advice! Sometimes we spend so much energy in making our business a success that it becomes a chore. I’ve recently felt this way myself and have taken a few days break and now have come back to it brimming with new ideas!

    • Good for you for giving yourself some time off! I know it can be hard at first to force yourself to relax (lol)…but the payoff is so great! Did you get away from where you live, or stay at home?

  5. What superb advice. For about 10 days now I have not been posting any new creations. Feeling a bit low on the creative front. But when I am back from my vacation on Monday, I will be back with a bang! Hah! Am feeling great already…

  6. Great article! You’re right, I think we’ve all been there. Today is city-wide garage sales in my town! More than likely something out there will become my new inspiration and muse.

  7. Love it! And you made me feel not so alone that I was in those moments, too! xx

    • We all get a case of the creative-blahs… but how you get yourself out of them can be the most rewarding experience! Glad yo liked the article. <3

  8. I have been resenting the loss of reading time! And, I got a horse in March and haven’t even ridden him yet!

    I have to remember to make time for hobbies!

  9. This is so good and so true and I’m finding that out more and more each day. Thanks for reminding me of this.

  10. Thanks for the reminder. Actually, I’d rather be creating than cleaning, doing laundry or filing paperwork, which is piling up. I have to try to turn those projects into fun and organization. I really used to be organized.

    • A ha, yeah… then there’s those “other” hobbies we have to do, right? Sometimes, although not very often (heh heh) I can find a lot of satisfaction and even inspiration when doing chores. Especially rearranging rooms!

  11. Exceptional advice!
    Working for ourselves is a huge commitment.
    1) I have found that working out, just 30 minutes a day is helpful.
    2) Getting outdoors is revitalizing as well, no matter what the weather.
    3) I removed television from my household and studio. It was too much of a distraction. Now I listen to music all the time.
    4) Sticking to a “fun” schedule also helps.

  12. I have found myself very distracted lately and unfocused. Then I realized I hadn’t stepped on the treadmill for months and I am sure that my lack of exercise is a major contributor to my lack of focus.

    Diane

  13. Congrats on 1 year! Thank you for sharing – I’ve been feeling the same way AND have picked up my camera and books again to try to bring new perspective to my Etsy work. So good to hear that I’m not the only person out there feeling this way.

  14. Boy, this article was a refreshing, cold splash of water in the face for me. I hit the wall recently after preparing for a show with creations for over a year. Couldn’t move or talk to anyone or worst of all, create. Then I started writing little stories about the characters I created and in making one little character and story for my grandson found a whole new direction. Now I’m going to throw myself into more writing and into reorganizing my “studio” space. Going to schedule in more fresh air walks and meditation time. Thanks for this article. Gave me the “get-up-and go” I needed!

  15. Beautiful story and a great reminder. I love the days when I spend all afternoon in my garden and simply forget about everything else :)

  16. Congrats on your one-year anniversary!
    And thanks for your very helpful insights.
    During the holiday rush, I was beginning to feel twinges of burnout.

    I’m going to do more reading–and get outside for some walks in the fresh air occasionally. Perhaps that will get my creative juices flowing again.

    Thank you!
    Happy Holidays!
    LeAnn

  17. You are so right! I’ve been trying to take a “sabbath” once a week and just get away from the creative work I love. It makes space in my brain and gives me energy, not to mention opening my mind up to new ideas! Daily treats: yoga and long walks with the dogs!

  18. Very nice article and especially a good reminder during the holidays when we all need to recharge!

    I am getting out my holiday sewing project (which I work on every year) and I think I will work on a jig saw puzzle.

  19. HA! So many of us have been there! Switching from being artist to a business owner and back is huge emotional and mental roller-coaster at least for me.

    I was so close to give up from my photography, I got so tired of business aspect of it.

    Then I found a new hobby – collage! I enjoy it so much, my creativity went wild again:-)

  20. <—nods in solemn understanding! I actually enjoy creating more now than when I first started, but have recognized a need for another outlet. I've discovered what that will be and am doing my homework before implementing the new dream. But I couldn't agree more with the need for some physical movement; the treadmill downstairs has been woefully lonely and calls to me! I have resolved to answer its call! Blood flow equals creative flow, which hopefully turns into cash flow!

  21. Great article…I found out the same thing years ago and felt I should focus on one or two things to be the best at my craft. But then I read about Leonardo DaVinci and he said – (to make it short) – do everything and don’t worry about it. So I did..I love having many interests and it does keep me from getting bored!
    thanks for sharing…now i have to get more serious about writing..which I have neglected lately…(and love!)

  22. Wow! What a great article. It totally rang true with me. I am at the point where passion is teetering on the edge of becoming dread and sometimes boredom creeps in. I have been trying to come up with ways to combat these issues and then I read this article. I know I love what I do and I have only been self-employed for 4 months but everything becomes monotonous if you don’t mix it up. Will be trying to get my other passions into play so that I don’t dread my craft and it doesn’t become just another job. Thank you :)

  23. Great reminder to have fun ! Thank you

  24. I find myself having to really stay on task with adding new items to my shop. I get caught up in the SEO strategy game. Trying to figure out what Etsy likes and doesn’t like can be a challenge.

    And when I need a break nothing better than a walk through the Hoosier National Forest!

    Peace.

  25. Congrats on your anniversary and thanks for relieving our guilt.

    My Dad’s favorite thing to say is “If you don’t have hobbies, you’re dead.” Turning your hobby into a business can be draining. I design jewelry (and love it), but am going to bake more bread and bike more often. :)

  26. You’re a great writer! Thanks for the insight.

  27. You are a fun writer and how I imagine my own writing to be, lol, although that’s probably not true. I loved reading everyone’s comments also.
    I agree with fresh air/exercise as a way to refresh your mind and spirit- those endorphins will really inspire you, and if they don’t, at least you will still feel good.
    I often feel a desperate need to push my brand/items/products ‘out there’ in the hopes to get noticed/feedback/sales, which feels really unnatural for me, as I am a fairly modest person; however, I am unsure how else to get a following, which is quite small at the moment. Lack of feedback on my Facebook page, and Etsy don’t help the feeling that I’m doing something wrong, which can be very disheartening. I hope (through coutless article reading)that I can some up with a solution to this problem of feeling ‘blah’, but in the meantime, it’s time to get back to my other hobby, which is the gym.
    If you’re reading this and would like to help me out, give me some tips and pointers about my products, product photos/descriptions or Facebook posts, please, by all means, let me have it!
    Thanks again!
    http://www.hellololalikes.etsy.com
    lolalikestochat@gmail.com

  28. I also found that – having other crafts in general can help alot. I primarily knit – adore it so much, have alot of plans for stuff to make later.
    However once in a while I, and my wrist, need a break from it. So thats when I create something else – like paper beads and jewelry with them.
    and who knows – sometimes those new crafts, the beads that are created – could spark an idea for a knitted item.
    :)

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