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

by | Creating | 5 comments

“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?

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American Christian Fiction Writers

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  1. Jane Foard Thompson

    I don’t say as much as I used to, realizing most people only want a one sentence statement, if that much. When I’m asked, I give a bare-bones answer. I think the change comes from not caring so much about or pleasing others. Rather, I simply want to do what I feel I am created to do, and do it to the best of my ability.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Jane, I think as long as we are in tune with our audience’s expectations, we don’t need to please others for the sake of doing so, as you say. If we do agree to interviews, I think it helps to understand ourselves and our work.

  2. LoRee Peery

    I’m catching up on blog reading… the first thing that came to my mind besides believing God calls me to write… is I write because I can’t not write…

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      LoRee, I know that feeling. Thus, as we explore our calling into relationship with God, we can be in tune to what He wishes us to write and to whom.

  3. Laurean Brooks

    Before I started my first novel, I asked God to give me the words to write that would heal hurting people. I want to develop characters and stories to have depth. And seeking the Lord is the only way I can do that.

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