In a recent post, Nate Archambault makes a rather compelling argument for the side project. I’m hoping to do just the opposite.
Here’s what Nate writes:
If you’re a creative person, you can’t afford to not work on a side project.
Side projects satiate creative mind in a way that a lot of today’s agency work can’t. Do one right, and it quickly becomes the center of attention.
Nate argues that agency work is less fulfilling than it used to be. For creative minds who feel uninspired at work, a side project can be a great outlet. But then again, so can a new career.
Of course, Nate isn’t the only person in advertising, or the creative/design/tech scene in general, to preach the side project gospel. And most creative people couldn’t contain their creativity to their day jobs even if they wanted. But the insistence that creative people make work in their free time to garner industry attention is misplaced.
Do creative people really need a side project to prove their creative worth? Or advance their careers? No. Or at least, no, that shouldn’t be the case.
There’s a whole world beyond making. It’s called doing.
Here’s an example: I rock climb twice a week. It’s something I’ve been doing for more than a decade now. Do I create anything of social media value when I climb? Do I improve the world or make art? Do I push the cultural zeitgeist forward?
No, I sweat. I sweat a lot.
I know creative people in bowling leagues and others in bands. Some run marathons, others break dance. A few more enjoy being active participants in their kids’ lives.
This is no diss to the side project. They certainly can satiate the creative mind. But, as an industry, we shouldn’t be trying to make them mandatory. There’s a problem when your side dish becomes more important, more challenging and more fulfilling than your main entree.
Not working is good for you. It refreshes the creative spirit.
When we’re not working, let’s not focus on working more. Let’s focus on living more. Do things you love without the intention of earning income or building your online persona. Try building your internal self instead. Try living. Ultimately, it’ll make us better creative people. And, frankly, just better people too.
I originally posted this on Medium. Not sure how I feel about Medium yet.