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.