Starving Like an Artist and Writing Like a Writer

Entrepreneurship and Beyond

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“Having extra stuff means prosperity.”- Joe

My husband’s parents grew up during the Great Depression. His mother told us a story about her uncle always bringing eggs to her family. It was such a delight, she said. A change from our daily bread. We saved everything we had even if we didn’t need it because maybe some day we would.

We live in a time fueled by money. Nowadays we choose careers fueled by money. Regardless of history proving we can survive on little to nothing. Regardless of every inspirational quote in creation telling us to follow our dreams and stay true to our passion. We tend to sell out. It’s the American way.

The 2013 NBC News article, Living on $5,000 a year, on purpose: Meet America’s ‘intentional poor,’ written by Nona Willis Aronowitz features the stories of three people with three different reasons and choices for living on $5,000 a year or less. Though, their lifestyles are by no means filled with modern day luxuries they’ve been able to live a life doing what they love.

Especially in the case of 40 year old, Amy Hayden who moved to New York City with the dream of becoming a writer and some day working in publishing. She had $50 in her bank account when she arrived. She rented a room the size of a walk in closet and began working away at her goals.

Sometimes, though, intentional poverty isn’t a rejection of mainstream success so much as a deliberate means to it.

My studio is packed with all the art supplies I could possibly need through a nuclear invasion, apocalypse or a second term of a Trump presidency. Some of it junk, some passed along by friends and some purchased over the years from discount supply stores. I’m blessed in the sense that I have all of this stocked and ready to go in a moments notice of creative inspiration.

I own a Handmade Shop. My prices are determined by the pay scale of $5 per hour of work with the average pricing at $10- $20 per piece. I make little to no income on my art but I make it a point to share my process and prints all over the internet.

Writing is even more so of a challenge. At the beginning of 2017 I decided I would seek options outside of traditional publishing. Writing stories and articles on topics and interests I don’t feel good about for a mere payout of .03- .05 cents a word was transforming my desire into demise.

I’ve since tried a number of approaches in efforts to sustain my work so I no longer have to produce shit work for the mainstream.

I applied for private funding and grants with no luck. I participated in collaborations which proved to be few and far between and not profitable. E-Books? Eh. I have yet to make enough money to fill my gas tank. I included my PayPal link on the stories and articles I published on Medium.

While reading Austin Kleon’s book, Show Your Work I discovered tips that apply to the type of creative venture goals I have for myself and my future as a creative. Art and writing is just as much entrepreneurship as Fortune 500s, software development and modern day innovations.

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There are several ideas I had already been working on that Kleon also touched on in his book.

Networking-

The best way to network is to share specifically on social media daily, an area where I need to kick up my game quite a few notches. Also working on projects with other creatives is another opportunity and of course there’s always talking about yourself and what you do as often as possible.

Strive to win over hearts and not eyeballs-

One of my most loved gifts of being a writer is building rapport with my readership. I look forward to emails, comments and even the few pieces of snail mail I receive. My readers inspire me to keep writing each time someone tells me they connected with my story or my feelings, thoughts and ideas.

Pay it forward-

Kleon suggests it’s important to support those who have supported you. I can’t afford to do so financially, as I’m struggling myself but I can help by promoting another’s work and passing opportunities along to them.

Pass the hat around-

I don’t write to make money, I make money so I’m able to write. By passing the hat around and asking for contributions or monthly patron support I’ll be able to stay up and running. On the flip side this is also challenging to do. At least 75% of who I’m asking for financial support are creators the same as I am. I remind myself that even monthly contributions of $1 can add up and go along way and often it takes small goals to reach a larger goal.

Become a documentarian of what you do-

I love this because this is where the real show your work comes together. I have a Patreon where I share the process and work that’s open to the public in hopes of gaining patronage. In exchange for patronage I’m able to show my gratitude with more stories. I also have a Medium publication where people can view a collaboration of my completed art and stories.

I don’t want to be rich, or famous for that matter. I want to create for those who enjoy my creations but in order to do so I have to be able to stay in business. Sometimes that requires starving like an artist and it always requires writing like a writer, and even if it means living in poverty, too.

Wanna jump this train? Here’s how and why you should!

Just wanna follow along? That’s cool, too.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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