The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

Balancing Accountability and Creativity July 15, 2010

Filed under: Life in General,Writing — michellehuegel @ 7:59 pm
Tags: , , ,


In my mind, the words “accountability” and “creativity” fall at opposite ends of the scale. Creativity is supposed to be spontaneous, carefree, spur-of-the-moment. Accountability evokes structure, to-do lists, calendars, and rigidity. So what’s the problem with being a “creative” person? Too often, nothing actually gets created. Maybe I don’t “feel” like it, or there’s no “mojo,” or time just slips away. Sometimes I wonder how I made it through college with a near-4.0 GPA, or succeeded at my various office jobs – and then I remember. College and work had deadlines, expectations, daily structure, and accountability.

I think my creativity often “falls down on the job” because there’s no one expecting me to turn in a new scrapbook layout or article. No consequences if I put off yet another blog post. No deadline to complete that album, finish some research, or organize those photos. I only have myself to disappoint, which is a vicious downward spiral of disappointment, guilt, and resultant total lack of motivation. I’ve written about this before, and tried a variety of tactics to motivate myself. Rewards (think Starbucks, a new book, watching a TV show, etc) sometimes work. For a little while. But with no accountability other than myself, every system eventually fails. I’ve come to the conclusion that some people simply require outside motivation, either all the time as part of their personality or maybe only during certain times of their lives. I’m under a lot of stress right now with a young toddler, new baby on the way soon, moving across country, and struggling financially to make it all work. I know theoretically that creative pursuits like writing and scrapbooking are crucial to my emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being, but “in the moment” I’d often rather take a nap or just zone out. So I’ve finally decided (yes, I’m a little slow sometimes) to create accountability in my life – or more specifically, in my creative pursuits.

Getting down to business – I’m going to begin balancing creativity with accountability in my digital scrapbooking. I can’t focus on every area at once, and I’m still pondering ways to create accountability in my writing. But for now I’m going to focus on my scrapbooking. I’m going to stop making excuses like “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t have time” or “I can’t create on command” and actually, FINALLY, apply for some creative team positions. Because really, those are pretty pathetic excuses. I’ve learned a lot over the last two years, I do have time, and I need that pressure right now to create.

By the way, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, a “creative team” works for a designer or scrapbook store to create layouts with new products. They help showcase a designer/store’s products and provide inspiration for projects created with those new products. That’s my definition in a nutshell, anyway! I’m being a little choosy about which designers/stores I apply at as they open up “CT calls,” because I want to make sure I’m a good fit for each one. And I’m extremely nervous about the whole process. I don’t have a gallery full of brilliant layouts (mostly because I’m terrible about remembering to post them!) or experience on other creative teams. I’m struggling with feeling “good enough.” But I’m doing it anyway, letting my “accountability” side triumph over my “creative” touchy-feely side because I know I need this, and I know I have something unique to offer these designers. I’m in the process now of applying to a couple, so hopefully soon I’ll have some good news to share!

Have I inspired you to balance your creativity with a little accountability? Or do you have a tried-and-true technique already for attaining this balance? Please share! I’d love to hear your ideas, and what you think of mine!


2 Responses to “Balancing Accountability and Creativity”

  1. That’s fantastic Michelle! Yes, I’m inspired!

  2. Erin Joy Says:

    Your first paragraph made me concerned for a moment, considering our conversation yesterday afternoon. 🙂 I’m encouraged to hear you’re finding ways to get involved for YOU down there.

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