Rules for Creatives (by Cynthia Jeub)

My sister, Tabitha, creating what she loves.

“When you are writing without a contract, you feel as though everything you say is completely worthless (technically it is, until you get a contract).” —Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Prior to the release of Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller had written several books, but none of them had earned him a name. By the time he was writing Blue Like Jazz, he was getting a bit discouraged, so there are several parts about writing discouragement and the hope for someday being a bestselling author. It’s ironic, because by the time most people read the book, it was a bestseller with 1.5 million copies sold, and now there’s a movie based on it.

Writing seems to be (and can be) pointless if there’s no contract behind it. This is why it’s necessary to find contracts, live up to them, and keep working on the things without contracts behind them.

A few months ago, I came across these “Rules of a creator’s life“:

  1. Do more than you’re told to do.
  2. Try new things.
  3. Teach others what you know.
  4. Make work into play.
  5. Take breaks.
  6. Work when others are resting.
  7. Always be creating.
  8. Make your own inspiration.
  9. Love what you do, or leave.

These have ruled my days as I slowly build the work I’ve been doing. When I’m doing the work I must do for my contracts, I don’t neglect the writing I don’t yet have an obligation to do. If I waited around until the work was demanded, I would be out of practice and have a load of work to do. I’d much rather have half the work done when the task needs to be finished. That’s why, among my other published works, I have hundreds of pages of writing in progress.