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Finding Other Semi-retirees Will Lessen the Chance of You Giving Up Your Creative Work

Part of what holds us back from pursuing our creative work is the idea that we are not going to be good enough at it. When you try your hand at writing, or photography, or whatever your interest is, a recurring feeling is ‘why the hell am I doing this?’ If you never move beyond this thought, and never arrive at the point where you take creative pleasure from your work, you tell yourself that there are better ways to spend your life. And you give up.

You need support for your creative work, someone to encourage you in what you are doing. But the kind of support you need when you start out is not someone who will critique what you are doing, who will tell you what is good and bad about it. This is useful later, when you have gained confidence. But not at the beginning, because your initial work will be bad. You will not create great work right from the beginning.

The best kind of support is to surround yourself with other semi-retirees: other people who spend as little time as possible on their paid subsistence work so they can concentrate on creative work. They will encourage you, even if they are not doing the same kind of work. It does not matter in the least that they are not doing the same kind of work – it is the fact that they are willing to spend their spare time on work that no one but themselves has asked them to do is the inspiration you need to carry on. In the words of Hugh MacLeod, ‘The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual work.’

Rent a space in an artists’ studios. (I rent a space for writing and I’m surrounded by other semi-retirees with many different creative pursuits.) Renting costs money, but bear in mind that your social life will become cheaper because your new semi-retiree friends will want to live cheaply as well. Volunteer to work with someone doing your kind of creative work. Aim to hang out more with friends, and friends of friends who have a creative side to their life. However you do it, if you associate more with creative people, and avoid people who have or want a high-flying, well-paid career, you will feel more encouraged to continue, even when you think you have no idea what you are doing. Talk to them about your fears and insecurities. If they are serious about their creative work they will know what you are talking about.

Semi-retiree friends are one of the most important factors in discovering the pleasure from creative work. Talent, whatever that may be, is merely secondary.