How to Answer: What Is the Essence of Your Creative Career?

“The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.” —Thales

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /

You’re asked to share about yourself and your creative work. You start to write a blurb for a proposal or prepare for an interview. You realize you don’t understand yourself and what you do as well as you thought.

Answer these 5 questions as honestly as you can. Hopefully, you’ll understand yourself and your creative work better. And perhaps, you’ll recognize changes you need to make.

5 Questions: 

1. What are your motives in pursuing your creative work?

Image courtesy of Keattikorn /
Image courtesy of Keattikorn /

Check all the motives that apply and then rank them:

  • Express yourself
  • Entertain others
  • Shock people
  • Teach principles
  • Gain notoriety
  • Help others
  • Offer audiences better than what’s on the market
  • Make a statement
  • Share truths
  • Make lots of money
  • Provide for your/family needs
  • Obey a call
  • Please someone other than a normal fan
  • Provide yourself a hobby
  • Show off your knowledge or talent
  • Enhance your non-creative work
  • Relate with others
  • Keep your job
  • Impress others
  • Other

Look at your top few and understand why you do what you do.

Image courtesy of twobee /
Image courtesy of twobee /

2. What are you doing, and what do you really want to do? 

  • Be on the cutting edge. Fads. (Chicklit, black-velvet paintings, Disco dances)
  • Perform short-term creative activities (decorated cakes, Sunday school activities, magazine articles)
  • Perform long-term creative activities (books, gallery work, speaking tours)
  • Reach local market
  • Reach National/worldwide market
  • Reach a small niche
  • Obtain successful sales
  • Obtain bestselling status
  • Produce Classics/masterpieces (over centuries)
  • Other

Understand where you are and where you’re headed, considering the work and sacrifices.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /

3. What do you envision someone in your audience doing MOST of the time while they experience your work?

  • Crying
  • Choking up
  • Laughing
  • Smiling
  • Sighing
  • Stewing
  • Steaming
  • Judging
  • Reminiscing
  • Imagining
  • Dreaming
  • Hoping
  • Agreeing/Disagreeing
  • Thinking
  • Ah-ha-ing
  • Thrilling
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /
  • Fearing
  • Trembling
  • Worrying
  • Learning
  • Growing
  • Envisioning
  • Relaxing
  • Delighting
  • Stopping the experience
  • Other

Understand what it is you’re trying to do for your audience.

4. What have others said about your creative work? Recall what you’ve heard formally or casually from:

Image courtesy of stockimages /
Image courtesy of stockimages /
  • Family and friends
  • Reviewers
  • Supervisors
  • Classmates in creative workshops
  • Social Media
  • Contest Judges
  • Creative colleagues in your field
  • Other

Understand how others see you and your work.

5. How would you describe improvements in you and your work? Also, are your answers to the above questions different today than they would’ve been five years ago?

  • Your work is more about what your audience’s wants than what you want.
  • Your work leads your audience to what you wish to convey rather than being simply a creation.
  • Your work receives positive comments that come in sentences, instead of single words, such as “Nice” or “Awesome!”
  • Your work shows you know the principles of good craft.
  • You want to rework, hide, or retract your first works.
  • You enjoy seeking ways to make your work better.
  • You study the works of others in your field.
  • Other

When you understand how you and your work have improved, you realize you’re the artist you think you are.


  • Someone wants to know the essence of your creative career. Maybe that someone is you.
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What do you tell people about you and your creative work?

10 Creative Things to Do While Waiting – Lite

“Waiting in line is a great opportunity to meet people, daydream, or play.” —Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams

Image courtesy of Ambro /
Image courtesy of Ambro /

You hate waiting—in a line, in a waiting room, in a restaurant foyer. It drives you crazy.

Forget about being productive. If waiting drives you crazy, then have some fun creating suggestions like these.

Best for while you wait in a waiting room:

mage courtesy of Ambro /
mage courtesy of Ambro /

1. Pretend you’re working on a survey.

Say it’s a gynecologist’s office. On the back of a receipt from your  purse, keep counts of the number of women who wear:

  • lipstick
  • skirts
  • sneakers
  • costume jewelry
  • nail polish

Work up the percentages. Optional: Blog about the GYN fashion trend.

2. Rip coupons and articles out of your own beat-up magazine.

The magazine must appear to belong to the waiting room. Track how many people give you dirty looks. If you’re the brave type, interview them. Ask what bothered them. The noise or the appearance of vandalism? Another blog possibility.

3. Re-cross your legs in sets of 10, alternating legs.

You can treat yourself to dessert after your appointment—guilt free.

4. Try new fashion designs with your clothes.

Roll up your sleeves. Roll down your knee-highs. Tuck in your collar around your neck. Button up your sweater and then unbutton the middle buttons.

5. Study others’ noses.

Pretend you’re a plastic surgeon. Decide how you’d rearrange each schnoz in the room.

6. Remove everything from your purse or pocket.

Make collages on the coffee table.

Best for while you stand in a line

Waiting in Line7. Give the person in front of you a massage.

Good chance you’ll get to move up a space in line for your kindness.

8. Pretend you’re at a party and perform the Snail Shuffle.

  • Optional. Place your hands on the hips of the person in front of you.
  • Creep your right foot out to the side, placing your heel on the ground. Inch your right foot back in.
  • Repeat.
  • Creep your left foot out to the side, placing your heel on the ground. Inch your left foot back in.
  • Repeat.
  • Scuff forward once with both feet together.
  • Scuff backward once with both feet together.
  • Scuff forward three times. Keep the steps short.
  • Repeat the steps, until you reach the front of the line.

9. See how much closer you’d be to the front if you could rearrange people by height.

If the result is depressing, try rearranging from the least to most obnoxious. That should give you a better position—you minding your own business, and all.

10.See if you can pick up and return everything on the candy and gum racks before you reach the cashier.

Hey. Store people put those things along the checkout aisle for you to touch. If you succeed, they should give you a pack of gum.

You can use these ideas, or get creative with your own, and make your waits a little less painful.


What creative activity have you come up with for us to try while we wait?

5 Steps to Tap “Greatest” Moments to Improve Your Creative Writing

“The wise learn from the experience of others, and the creative know how to make a crumb of experience go a long way.” —Eric Hoffer

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at
Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at

You realize you need strong emotional events for your character’s journey.

Try using greatest, closest, and funniest moments to pump up your story. Here’s how it works:

Step 1 Ask a question at your next social gathering, such as:

  • What situation was the moment you came closest to death?
  • What has been your greatest fear?
  • What was your greatest embarrassment?
  • What was the greatest injustice you suffered?
  • What was your funniest situation?
Image courtesy of PANPOTE at
Image courtesy of PANPOTE at

Example: What situation was the moment you came closest to death?

First, the facts:

Response 1: When she was twenty, she hiked a cliff path with her parents. The drop from the path to the boulder-filled creek below was over a hundred feet. She stumbled on a jutting rock and shot out her foot to steady herself on a smooth stone slanting toward the drop. It was wet and slippery. She slid toward the drop. Her mother caught her arm and pulled her back onto the path.

Image courtesy of SweetCrisis at
Image courtesy of SweetCrisis at

Response 2: On a dark night, a wasp in her car forced her to stop on the side of a deserted road and exit her car. A car pulled up alongside hers, and the lone man asked if her car had broken down. She said it hadn’t. He drove on a ways and then slowly made a U-turn. She jumped in her car, wasp or no wasp, and sped by him.

Image courtesy of artur84 at
Image courtesy of artur84 at

Step 2 Ask the teller to expand on her emotions during the situation.

In telling mode:

Response 1: Desperately trying to get traction, she squealed. Her mother screamed. Afterwards she couldn’t stop shaking. She found it difficult to deal with the realization that her mother, without thinking, risked her own life to save hers.

Response 2: She was terrified the wasp would sting her. The man’s ogling eyes creeped her out. When he drove on, she was relieved. At his U-turn, her heart stopped. Forgetting the wasp, she panicked to escape him.

Step 3 Collect the stories and organize them by subject. I’d file these under Death Defying.

Step 4 Select a situation from your cache when you need a situation for a character.

Step 5 Massage the situation to fit your story. Let’s select Response 1.

Hikers_on_green_fieldsBriefly, in telling mode:

On a team-building weekend, Anne and her colleagues traverse a narrow path along a cliff. Anne precedes Cindy, the ambitious, disliked co-worker. Anne wishes she could pass three people and hike next to Mark, the hunk she and Cindy have their eyes on.

Anne is mentally grumbling about her bad luck, when she trips on a jutting rock. Her left foot zips out to steady herself. She can’t gain traction on the slippery stone slanted toward the boulder-filled creek below. Panicking, she yelps as she slides toward the hundred-foot drop. Cindy grabs her arm and pulls her back onto the path.

Later, still trembling, Anne refuses Mark’s invitation to eat beans together. She’s compelled to understand the woman who risked her life to save hers. She joins Cindy on a log.


    • How to tap yours and others’ “greatest” moments to improve your creative writing.
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    Now you have a situation with real actions. You can add details and show the emotions.

    What situation have you used to enrich a story?