Gun. No, wait… Workplace! Yes, that’s it. Now, being a creative type, I have an issue with working daily, mundane jobs. I’m sure I’m not the only one. If you’re working as a laborer, or a data entry clerk, or whatever, but you long to write, or draw, or just create in general, then you know the pains of doing a day-to-day job. I would say most people aren’t completely satisfied with what they do for a living. In this day and age when everybody has a post-secondary education, getting into your field can be tricky; however that’s just a part of life. It’s fine. But when you have a creative mind constantly craving stimulation, it makes it that much harder to sit around and stare at a screen, or do the same repetitive task over and over again.
In my time, I’ve had dozens of jobs. Most part time, some full time, and over those times I’ve learned a lot about both life and how different workplaces function. While I’ve only worked a few jobs I’ve loved, they’ve all been temporary – some where paid internships, other pay per article, etc… But the majority have just plain sucked. So herein lies the issue: happiness. While I was in university I took a psychology course, and for a few weeks we studied the effect of happiness on employees. The study we looked at may be a bit outdated now, but at the time happy employees were 33% more productive. 33%, that’s a bloody lot, however this is a stat that many employers tend to ignore.
I can say from experience that if I’m happy with my job, I do work harder, better, and all around more effectively, and I think many can say the same. A lot of it boils down to something as simple as the management. There are a bunch of different types of managers out there, but I think they can be broken into two distinct categories: Bosses and Leaders. A boss will sit behind his desk, not communicate with his employees and demand results. It’s old school, and not many people today respond to that style. The leader on the other hand will interact with his employees and get to know them as people. Skilled leaders will walk the line between supervisor and friend and never quite cross it.
I’ve worked for both, once in the same job. The manager that hired me was by far the best supervisor I’d ever had. He was personable, friendly, and kept the atmosphere light. He would chat with the staff and wouldn’t stand over your shoulder. He would side with his employees and take bullets from customers, or HR for them. It was a sad, sad day when he left the company leaving his underling to take charge. It was shocking how quickly the culture of the workplace changed. It went from fun loving, jokey, and efficient to overbearing, lifeless, and soul sucking. I know people who still work there, and from what I’ve heard, things have just gotten worse.
It’s the perfect example to show how happiness can affect results. When the leader was in charge, we had a surplus in sales, we had a great customer rating, and we held great events that showed the management cared. After he left, our sales went down, production dropped off, and the customers were constantly telling us that our quality has dropped off. The only change? Leader to Boss. My current job features a mixture of the two. She does the work, but is such a bad communicator that it’s surprising the business is still afloat. Well, it’s not really, but beside the point. She plays with the trust of her employees, and tests them with inane little inside tests, and then tells you that you failed a test you didn’t know you were taking. Suffice it to say, not many people are happy here.
What does this have to do with writing and creativity? Have you ever tried to be creative when you’re exhausted or in a depressed state? You can certainly do it, and sometimes it garners excellent results. But was it enjoyable? Was it effective? Personally, for me it’s a huge hindrance. Life is a fickle thing; one side of the coin says you have to work and make a living to survive, but the other side says you only have one life, why spend it being unhappy. It’s the constant struggle between surviving and living.
I’ve always said do what makes you happy, and if you can make money from it, even better. I don’t believe that people should start making art to make money – it’s a job then. I’ve always said create for you. When I wrote Lizzy, I knew that it wouldn’t be popular. It’s an awkward story that can make people uncomfortable, but it was a story I felt I had to tell. I wrote that for me, and I’m more than happy with that. Now that I’m a bit older though, I do want to create things for other people to enjoy as well, but my latest novel still had my heart and interest in mind while writing it. I don’t think I could ever write an erotic novel, it just doesn’t interest me despite them being popular. Random example, I know.
Anyway, if you’ve read this far – excellent! You’re awesome. But how does work place happiness tie into your creative work? I hope you’ve put it together by now, but if you work in a place that drains your lifeforce, it makes it difficult to jump into that creative mindset. Sure, it can be used as motivation – I have to write this so I can rich and kick my boss in the balls! But that’s where the line blurs between passion and work. As the saying goes, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I firmly believe that.