Pursuing a career in the creative industry is brave in itself. You opt-in knowing that there isn’t a lot of clarity in terms of your career pathway. That you might have to work for years without a lot of pay, without validation, and then one day, probably as a result of luck – the right person comes across your work with the right opportunity and then you’re all set.
That’s the story we hear and we assume this is inherent and ingrained in the nature of creative industries. The hustle narrative goes like this: the more work you put out, the more shows you do, the more emails you send – the more likely that right person is to come across your work.
That makes sense, and it probably works, but is it sustainable? And what is the impact of this narrative on our creatives, their wellbeing and the expectations of output we have from the creative industries altogether?
It doesn’t help that in our digital age of fervent content consumption there is always room for more to be done. Where work-life boundaries are often blurred, it is easy to take your work home. A tireless, relentless hustle culture has been normalised. You see your colleagues on Instagram creating a continual output of work and you feel guilt from not experiencing burnout. Although, how many times have you heard the justification that if you love your job, it doesn’t feel like work. Of course it is work! The idea that being creative does not require as much effort feeds into the perception that creative jobs are not legitimate jobs.
I think if you are a creative, it is your responsibility to actively find a healthy work-life balance that works for you. The great thing about creative work is that there is a little bit more freedom and space to figure out what suits you at your own pace. Considering one’s wellbeing and mental health feels doubly important for women since they already have to work much harder than their male counterparts to receive the same amount of recognition and success.
Not only does the quality of your work inevitably suffer if you’re not in your best form; it is also important to consider how normalising burnout may be detrimental to successive generations of artists and creatives. Don’t be selfish, take a break.