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?

3 Ways to Pay It Forward in Your Creative Career

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” —John Wooden

id-100172390.jpgReview your journey in your creative career. Haven’t you received valuable nuggets from others who made a difference in your creative work? You’re thankful, but often repaying your benefactors is nearly impossible.

Then pay forward the help you received. You can help another struggling artist.

3 Ways to Pay It Forward

1. Tweets, posts, and links

id-10074109.jpgThis era of social media helps us pay forward what we’ve received.

In a tweet, a blog post, or other social media, we can share with others the nuggets that were so helpful to us.

Example: In an online course, I received a better understanding of writing in deep point of view. So, I shared what I learned in a recent blog post by sharing several of my homework examples. I directed people to the instructor’s website, her book on the subject, and her online course. Hopefully, several of my readers learned from my examples and were encouraged to buy the book or sign up for the instructor’s next class.

2. Reviews

When we like others’ work, taking the time to write honest online reviews is one of the best things we can do to help others’ in our field.


Example: An author invited others who enjoyed her book to join her promotion team. She said we could join her team for the purpose of learning how a promotion team works. I have a book coming out soon and wanted to learn how to implement such a team.

As I helped the author get the word out about her book, I learned much from her. She also took the time to promote several of my blog posts. On her team, I learned how to write reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Now when I like a book, I promote it through writing honest reviews. Paying forward what the author did for me.

3. Mentors and teachers

id-10034692.jpgWhile I’ve grown in the craft of writing, I’m amazed at how many people have stepped up to help me. Mentoring others pays forward the help we receive from our mentors. Teaching classes or workshops, or simply sharing what we’ve learned with our critique groups pays it forward also.

Example: I moved into a small rural community. A woman in my new church gave me a newspaper clipping about a local writers’ group.

The president of the writers’ group is an editor for a small publishing company. She took me under her wing. She encourages me, alerts me to valuable writing information, sends me links to opportunities, and invites me to teach elements of the craft in our local group.

I’m happy to lead workshops to pay forward her help. I believe God used the woman in my church to provide me with this wonderful mentor.


  • You can pay forward the help you’ve received from others in your creative craft.
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How have you paid forward help you’ve received?