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  • Danielle Archer, Ed.D, LMHC

Common Struggles for Creatives

(**This is not an all-inclusive list**)

Establishing Boundaries. Boundaries are at the root of a fulfilled, balanced life. Without them, people can quickly lose themselves in their work, relationships, familial obligations, or service to others. They can even wind up being exploited or taken advantage of by people who do not respect them. They help define what you are willing to say “yes” to and what you decide to say “no” to. They give you a sense of agency and sovereignty over your decisions. Like an internal compass, boundaries can all start with a “gut feeling” that tells you when you have the time or energy to devote to something versus when you need to say “no.” Good boundaries free you to live life on your terms.


Effective Communication. Effective communication is more about than just exchanging information. It’s about understanding the emotion and intentions behind the information. As well as being able to clearly convey a message, you need to also listen in a way that gains the full meaning of what’s being said and makes the other person feel heard and understood. Common barriers to effective communication are stress and out of control emotion; lack of focus; inconsistent body language and negative body language.


Self-Advocacy. To self-advocate, an individual effectively communicates their needs and desires. Essentially, this means they speak up for themselves when an outcome or situation doesn’t seem quite right. Self-advocacy also includes asserting oneself to convey or negotiate a message that may not have been initially understood. Essentially, self-advocacy consists of two major areas you need to master: knowing your worth and communicating your worth.

Resource: “Say More About That: And Other Ways to Speak Up, Push Back, and Advocate for Yourself and Others” by Amber Cabral

Self-Care. Self-care includes everything related to staying physically healthy — including hygiene, nutrition, and seeking medical care when needed. It’s all the steps an individual can take to manage stressors in his or her life and take care of his or her own health and well-being. Self-care is anything that you do for yourself that feels nourishing.

Resource: “Ten to Zen” by Owen O’Kane

Creative Burnout. Creative burnout is physical, emotional, and creative fatigue. It’s total exhaustion that brings all aspects of life to a halt. It’s an overwhelming combination of anxiety, stress, and guilt that can take weeks, months, or even years to overcome. Creative burnout occurs when a combination of stress triggers combines to shut your body down. These include self-doubt, perfectionism, long work hours, strict deadlines, money worries, relationships, and over-ambition. The problem with being an artist-entrepreneur is knowing when, or how, to stop and take a step back. It’s almost impossible to separate your work life from your home life because being an artist is a lifestyle. Your business must serve you, not the other way round. Avoid conflict, plan ahead, take time off, turn work down, don’t compare yourself to others, and don’t ignore family and friends.


Motivation. We are at our most creative when we are driven by intrinsic motivation (working for the sheer joy of it, regardless of rewards). Focusing on extrinsic motivation (such as money, fame, or other rewards) can kill your creativity. If you don’t feel excited by the task in front of you, it’s impossible to do your best work, no matter what rewards it might bring. You may be determined not to sell out, but selling yourself short can be just as damaging. And when it comes to public recognition, comparison to others and professional jealousy can consume far too much of your creative energy.


Imposter Syndrome. Think of imposter syndrome as the nagging voice in your head that tells you that you have no business writing a song, performing music, or performing on a stage. If you have experienced that, then you know about imposter syndrome. It can also be characterized as a fear of evaluation, fear of not being able to maintain success and fear of not being as skilled as others in the same industry. It can also be a fear of being “found out”. Depression and anxiety often accompany these fears. Feeling this way can crush your self-confidence, motivation, and ability to perform, often leading to poor mental health and missed opportunities for growth in your career. Imposter syndrome affects people across all industries—in fact, 70% of people experience it at some point in their lives - but musicians, artists, and other creatives are especially susceptible to its detrimental effects.

Resource: Me, I have extensive experience and knowledge on this topic and work specifically with creatives on this matter,

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