What's your Day In The Life of a Creator story?

Are you a full-time creator, managing multiple aspects of your business while staying inspired to create for yourself and your audience? Or do you have another gig you work part-time, which helps supplement your creative craft? Do you have a full-time day job and are working your creative business on the side?

What does a typical day in your world look like?
What are your priorities, and how do you define them?
How do you structure your time to fit everything in?
Have you found any practices or tools that help you?

Wise creators: please tell us your ways! How do you do it?

At Patreon U, we’re exploring how creators of all kinds spend their days, and we’d love to hear from you. We won’t share your feedback without your permission, and we’d truly love your input.

Thanks for thinking about this and sharing your stories!

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Are you a full-time creator, managing multiple aspects of your business while staying inspired to create for yourself and your audience?

I’m a full-time artist and I occasionally take freelance projects if they’re worth the trouble. I’m increasingly picky because there’s so much I need to do for my own practice, and it’s easy to get eaten up by side tasks.

What does a typical day in your world look like?

In an ideal week, being a week when I have no engagements at all, my typical day looks a bit like this: I do admin in the morning, head to the studio mid-day or after lunch, and come home in the early evening. Then I can do housework, food and/or relax, or meet up with friends. In the studio it really depends, sometimes I have nothing particular to do there, in which case I prepare materials (I make my own), test ideas, do studies, or prepare some stock for my Etsy shop.

How do you structure your time to fit everything in?

I structured my day like this because it works with my natural rhythm: I do my best thinking and writing first thing in the day, and I’m totally useless in the evening. So there’s no point in going to the studio early and coming home in the afternoon to do more work, because I won’t be able to focus on anything. This is also interspersed with various things to take care of myself: meditation, a brief workout, healthy food, and never spending too long sitting at the computer.
It doesn’t mean I necessarily fit everything in; I’m (very) good at making deadlines when I need to, but my own work isn’t like that. I always feel like there’s never enough time for all the things on my list, but I can’t push it. There’s a seasonality to what I do that I have to flow with.

What are your priorities, and how do you define them?

My priority is to make art. Everything else, including publishing it online, are things that need to be done for the sake of making a living, but are themselves meaningless. The part that’s real is when I’m engaged in pure creation, because that’s when I’m bringing something new into the world as opposed to shuffling things about.

Have you found any practices or tools that help you?

Discipline. Not allowing myself to be distracted when I should be creating. I don’t take my laptop to the studio, for instance. I pull back if I find myself checking social media, and don’t allow myself to get pulled in (I’m considering a blocker app to do this more ruthlessly). It takes a lot of space to create, which often means allowing yourself to get really bored while an idea is shaping up. It’s very much like watching grass grow, and it’s very tempting to fill the boredom with entertaining things because nothing seems to be happening. But it is, you just have to give it the time to shape up.
Also, ignoring people when I’m busy. I don’t answer texts instantly, much less emails, unless they’re important.

I might remember more stuff later…

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I have a full-time job and a very full life. Story Hospital is a sideline. I make one post a week.

My Patreon patrons get early access on Sundays, so on Saturday night I sit down, pick a letter from the queue, and write an answer to it. If I’m not able to do that on Saturday night, I do it sometime Sunday, but I like being able to schedule the post for 10 a.m. Sunday patron release and 10 a.m. Tuesday public release.

Having a consistent habit definitely helps me stay on track and make sure I get the post in. I also have a Slack chat with my patrons and hanging out with them reminds me to get the week’s post up and spark some conversation.

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Thank you so much for this thoughtful response! I, too, do my best creative work in the morning and find I must block distractions (social media) in order to do my best work and stay inspired. I love that you avoid taking your laptop into the studio, and spend mornings doing admin since you know the evenings won’t be productive for you. It’s so helpful to know one’s own energy flows! Great job, there. :slight_smile:

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Thanks so much for your insight! And yes, having a consistent appointment is so helpful to getting the work done. Great job setting up a system that works for you, even with everything you have going on! :slight_smile:

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I am a full time creator. I am a photo historian and digitise local photos to grow our archives which gives us a collection to choose from to produce local history products such as books, calendars, DVDs, photo prints etc.
I have my own shop in the local museum after becoming a member of the local historical society. It’s an ideal location to grow our content as we meet so many people with old photos, film, artefacts that they want to share.
Much of my day is spent meeting and greeting people and managing my Facebook page where I share local historical photos daily to my 13,000+ fans.
Now that I have a patron community (only a month old) I am spending more time sharing content with them (less on Facebook) and finding new avenues for patrons (community needs for local history).
This is a wonderful platform and looking forward to meeting more creators and sharing this journey.
My Patreon

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Are you a full-time creator, managing multiple aspects of your business while staying inspired to create for yourself and your audience?

I’ve been making my living from my creative work for as long as I can remember, but I’ve been working at home, for myself, since 2005. I try very hard not to work for other people.

What does a typical day in your world look like?

I usually get up when it’s still dark, and spend some time on social media. This month, my next thing is a daily drawing for Inktober, which I’m hoping continues, because it means loading up my file of basic images to use for other projects. I get the dogs up around 10, and do domestic things for an hour. Then I either work on a project in my studio, or sit back down at the computer, or leave the house to do whatever needs doing that day. My work day ends at about 4PM. Then I cook, do more domestic things, work in the garden, play with the dogs. I usually work on my tablet while I’m watching videos in the evening, doing research and writing out ideas. I try to read for an hour before I fall asleep.

What are your priorities, and how do you define them?

Keep the money flowing in, and the art flowing out. Try not to get to bogged down in the can’t do or can’t afford. Keep my eyes on my own path and progress.

How do you structure your time to fit everything in?

I only focus on what needs doing today, and what deadlines are on the horizon. I don’t plan my work day, or week, beyond having a loose list of things I’d like to do soon. I learned early on to make myself have work hours every day. I get up, and go to work—even if it’s just in the next room, and I’m still in my jammies.

Have you found any practices or tools that help you?

Dogs. I have dogs. That means every two hours, I have to get up, walk from one end of the house to the other, and let them out. They are content to snooze in between, but if I make a move or sound that indicates I’ve finished something, they’re at my feet, ready to be my priority. That short break every two hours keeps me connected to something other than screens and lists and paint and canvas.

Wise creators: please tell us your ways! How do you do it?

One thing at a time. Try not to let the overwhelming amount of work and things to be dealt with become—well, overwhelming.

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All of the above? :laughing: I have 3 Patreons: my primary is for my fantasy art, secondary is the nsfw reward tier portion of the primary (The majority of my art is on the primary and I want that to be accessible to anyone), and my third Patreon is for my writing. I also have a brick and mortar junk shop and I do artwork between customers as well as a booth in an antique mall. I also just opened a Teepublic shop last month and I have a Ko-Fi account just for when I do the random fanart. It kind of sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Hahaha!

I open my junk shop around 10 and do shop stuff (putting out merchandise, pricing, dusting, cleaning, arranging displays, etc.) and social media marketing, posting on other sites, scheduling posts, making graphics, setting up Recurpost, etc. until around noon. I have lunch and look over my calendar for what art or art business stuff is on the list for the day, then I read 10 pages from a motivational, art, or business book, watch a tutorial based on what I’m doing that day (it’s important to always be learning), set myself up for the day’s project, and then start drawing, inking, or coloring. I do that until 6-ish unless I get to a good stopping point earlier. Then it’s dinner and tv, posting what I worked on that day on Patreon if I managed to get to a point where it is a postable step , then some writing, maybe a little fun reading, talking with friends online, and ten minutes of guitar lessons before bed.

It’s taken a while for me to come to the notion that art is my first priority. I used to plan to work art in at the end of my day after my other work was done. Everything else used to come first and I never had the energy left for art. I’ve found it’s much better for me if art is first and I work everything else around that. I’m at my best creating in the afternoon, so I stopped trying to force myself to be a morning artist. Just because art is my first priority doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to come first in the day.

I don’t try to do all the things every day. At the beginning of the month I make an artwork for my primary patreon as it is my top priority, once I’ve done that I make an artwork for my nsfw patrons and an art pose reference post and then, if I have time, I try to go back and work on finishing or making some progress on older works in progress for each of the art Patreons. I only update the writing Patreon once a month. I haven’t started really promoting that one, I’m trying to build a following for my writing outside of Patreon and have some bonus things to accumulate within. The writing is sort of a guilty pleasure, so it’s not high priority and I’ve only really mentioned it as a tip jar for my writing on Tumblr/Ao3. I only do fan art for my Ko-Fi a couple of times a year, which gives it lowest priority.

It’s important to be flexible and to know yourself. My best drawing time is at 3pm and I was making myself crazy trying to do that first thing in the morning. I do my best writing in the evening before bed, so it didn’t make sense to try to cram it in the afternoon when I really wanted to be drawing. Definitely have to know your daily creative cycles.

I also use Habitica, which game-ifies your to-do list, daily tasks, and habits you’re trying to form. I put EVERYTHING in Habitica so I don’t have to be thinking about what to do next. It really clears up some brain space. XD

Recently, I’ve started using a Google calendar exclusively for art stuff to schedule the order I need to accomplish things each month (it’s a daily reminder that art is my top priority when I go to plan my day), remind myself when to post where, AND has the added benefit of being a visual record of what I’d accomplished. It used to be that I’d be down on myself for only finishing 1.5-2 artworks/month, but now I can see that I made posts on all my social media, ran a promo, created accompanying graphics, communicated with my fans, had a sale, made regular posts on my Patreon(s), taken webinars on social media marketing, set up a Teepublic shop, cross-promoted with artist friends, and so on.

I find it’s important for me to build at a steady, sustainable pace so I can still clear out some of my works in progress. This way I’ll be ready for my next phase without having things looming in the background. It is also critical that you give yourself time to acknowledge what you’ve accomplished each day/week/month. Give yourself some credit! Also keep learning your craft and your business so you are being productive, not just being busy.

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I work full-time at a demanding day job (academia). I am not one of these people who are amazing at managing their time. I get many things done because I’m passionate about them, and because I get a lot done while in hyperfocus. I keep track of all my projects thanks to my Bullet Journal, which I also use for sketches. :smiley: Patreon is a joyful outlet for me, and I do not want to ever lose my joy, which happens to me if I’m too calculated about scheduling.

I post different kinds of material, and what’s been working really well for me is series. I enjoy developing my Critterfest drawings and my Writing While Autistic essay series, and my Patrons seem to love these in particular. I appreciate the chance to develop both of these series - without Patreon, I would not have a reason to do so. :slight_smile:

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Hyperfocus is a great word!

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Thanks, Joumana! We talk about hyperfocus a lot in the autistic writer/creator circles :slight_smile: I think hyperfocus is familiar to many creators :slight_smile:

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Yes I agree, and it’s interesting that you say that. When I’m in that mode of functioning, and not knowing the word, I always thought of it as “autistic mode” (hope it’s not an insensitive thing to say, but I think you know what I mean) and that’s when miracles of completion happen.

When I was in college, my design professor would intentionally schedule upper level classes in our ground floor studio at the same time as beginning tap in the dance studio above us. Have you ever heard beginners learning to tap? It’s a ridiculous, annoying, uneven rhythm. He said he scheduled classes that way to teach us to tune everything out when we worked. Hyperfocus training?

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Wow. If you can tune that out, your mind is disciplined for life.

I get up, and usually jump right into work. That varies, but it’s usually whatever has to go up on social media that day, plus then working on whatever sample knitting or pattern drafting that needs to happen.

I want to have a life. My computer and tablet has an elaborate scripting of what’s allowed to send me notifications and at what times. So I can just ‘turn off’ my work e-mail and such after 6 pm. That’s me time. :slight_smile:

Horribly! (Well, no). I have a Google Calendar with all my deadlines for submissions, publications. Then I build in some buffer time in case something takes longer then it should. So, I have the Google Calendar telling me what needs to happen in the long term. I also have a giant spreadsheet to-do as well and that’s the short term. What has to happen today/tomorrow. But my work has a lot of flexibility (unless I’m publishing to a 3rd party), so if things do take longer/shorter, it’s usually something I can adapt to.

IFTTT. Seriously, it automates so much! The one I really love is the RSS to E-mail – having almost all my notifications in one place is -so- helpful! But you can customize it for so much more, I feel like I’m still only scratching the surface of what it can do!

Also, just maintaining a sense of perspective – ok, so I didn’t get something in for ‘x’ submission deadline, well, I can always submit to ‘y’ or self-publish, instead!

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I’d love to know specifics on your ifttt usage, sounds like you’re a pro!

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If you would consider being a contract videographer and podcast producer “being a creator” than some might consider me a full-time creator. But my real passion has always been in telling my own stories. Specifically through podcasting & writing (with some video). Which is where I spend almost all the margin I can spare in my life.

What does a typical day in your world look like?

No two days look the same in my world. I try and have my months planned out as far ahead as I can, but since most of my “Real Life Work” is based around contracted videography/editing, I can only ever plan so far ahead. To be honest, I prefer the chaos. Life behind a desk, where every day looks the same, every week is predictable, and every moment is planned, is basically like a slow death in my mind. Each week, once I’ve done the absolute best work I can as a contractor, I get to work on my dream job. I write, plan, record, and edit for a D&D podcast.

What are your priorities, and how do you define them?

Self awareness and authenticity is number 1 for me. The minute I loose sight of myself or the people in my life, it really doesn’t matter what I accomplish creatively. I also believe no one is really looking for a “new” story, just an honest one. I try not to focus on reinventing the wheel or being odd/different. My primary goal is to be true, even when it’s in a high fantasy game played with dice.:sweat_smile:

How do you structure your time to fit everything in?

That is a good question… I guess I make the main things, the main things. Time with my wife, high quality output in my career, and if I’m not asleep or eating, I’m creating for myself.

Have you found any practices or tools that help you?

Grit and Perspective. Malcolm Gladwell wrote this wonderful article about Late Bloomers in which he states “Late bloomers’ stories are invariably love stories…” because often, it takes a great deal of faith and love from those around us, giving us the room and opportunity to succeed.

I’m not where I want to be yet. In fact, I don’t know that there really is a “where” that I’ll ever reach. For now, I’ll continue helping other’s tell their stories as best I can, all the while striving to tell my own within the margins. Maybe I’ll find “success” now, or maybe it will find me in 20 years. Either way, I’m going to welcome failure, embrace the journey, and never half-ass anything. I refuse to let my lack of effort be a scapegoat when things don’t work. “Every idea is just an iteration towards a better idea.” - Andy J Pizza

Thanks for asking these questions. I’ve enjoyed reading other’s responses. :blush:

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Are you a full-time creator, managing multiple aspects of your business while staying inspired to create for yourself and your audience?

I am now, thanks to Patreon and my Kickstarter projects completely independent. I am now making art that I want to make full time. Before I was also freelancing as an illustrator for book covers, card games and other random illustration needs!

What does a typical day in your world look like?
What are your priorities, and how do you define them?
How do you structure your time to fit everything in?
Have you found any practices or tools that help you?

I usually do admin and emails and social media in the morning as I often find it hard to get into art first thing. I don’t have a set goal each week of what to do, I’m very much ‘do what I need to do today’ kind of person. At the start of the month I make sure to get all my physical Patreon rewards done of course and send those out. Some days I won’t paint at all but that is unusual. I set myself deadlines (for instance my book that I am creating currently is on a deadline so that I send it out to my Kickstarter backers on time) and stick to them unless unwell (recently had a trapped nerve in my neck so that set me back about 3 weeks).

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Well, all of my of my IFTTT usage is ‘x’ to e-mail. It means that pretty much everything is in one spot. (It also means I wake up to -a lot- of e-mails, but I can clear them really quickly with the help of folders and search).

RSS feeds probably make up . . . well, actually all of it, right now, now that I’ve looked! The forum I use a lot (Ravelry.com), has an option for an RSS feed for forum threads or subforums. It means that I don’t accidentally miss replies on my threads, or on threads I need to see. It also means that on almost any blog or podcast, I can have the e-mails that there’s a new episode or a new post all in the same place (before I got some notifications in different accounts, and some gave push notifications on my phone but not my computer, and so on.)

There’s a few ‘social media feed’ to e-mail in IFTTT that I’ve tried, but I find those usually don’t work as well as the notifications that come with the social media side. (The exception being Facebook-to-E-mail, which was great until it started getting all weird :frowning: – I still don’t know what’s going on there.)

Hope that helps!

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Yes indeed, thank you :grin:

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