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Another Type of Tension

I’m going to talk business a little bit here, but hang with me...Today I’m talking about the tension between the creative process/creative flow and business procedure. You may be interested to hear what I’ve learned especially if you struggle with the business side of things.

I am a writer by night but by day I am a mental health therapist. I have owned my private counseling practice for over 8 years now, though I’ve been in the mental health “business” for almost 20! I love having my own business in that it allows me to flex my schedule. I really enjoy being my own boss and creating the type of work life that I want. Creativity. Freedom. What could be better!

But here’s the flip side of that coin: it’s a business.

So the tension comes in when it’s that time of month for sending out statements, or that time in the session when I have to talk to clients about co-pays and insurance coverage. It’s always seemed somewhat counterintuitive to me, or perhaps just simply of no therapeutic value for me to be a hard-line business woman with my clients. But I have come to learn differently in 2019. After sitting down with a business consultant and discussing business practices, goals and strategies for continued growth and success I came to realize that I need to hold the tension between the therapeutic and the business side of things; that I need to develop a business side of myself in order to succeed.

What I’ve found to be very interesting as I have done this is that the therapeutic benefits of direct communication with clients, of holding someone accountable to what they have agreed to do (or pay, in this case) has become evident. My business side has improved but in some ways the therapeutic side has also grown and developed because of the business steps I have taken.

Translate this to the creative life and process. The writer by night part of me loves the creative process. If I’m not blogging, working on a book or short story then I’m free writing, mind mapping or brainstorming. I LOVE that stuff. It’s so much fun for me!

I have completed 3 books to date, 2 of which are currently available on Amazon. Finding Myself...Facing Cancer was the first book I wrote over the course of 2 ½ years during breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and surgeries. I published that a year ago in February. In May of 2018 I followed that book up with a workbook called Keeping It Together: A Patient’s Companion Through Decision-Making. The third book I wrote is a complete departure from the medical focused non-fiction work of last year. It is a middle grade fantasy novel and the first in a 9 book series. That book is currently in the design process and won’t be out until later this year.

It’s been really fun creating the books and putting them out into the world in hopes of encouraging and inspiring readers. I enjoy the entire process of writing a book, well, maybe not the first draft, sometimes that can be a struggle to get the story pulled out my brain...But after a first draft, then second, I love the beta reader process, final draft, design and ultimate publication of the book. It’s so gratifying and exciting to see that little book baby come to life!

I attended the Book Baby conference in Philadelphia in November 2018 where Joanna Penn was the Keynote speaker. I had been listening to Joanna since 2015 on her Creative Penn podcast and knew that writing and publishing was her business, but it wasn’t until after that conference that it was really awakened in me that I wanted this to be a business for me too, not just a hobby. (Because it would be a super expensive hobby the way I wanted to do it).

So now I am holding the tension between creativity and commerce. I’m trying to find the flex and bend and imagination that I so enjoy in creation somewhere within the business side of things. Just as I was able to find the therapeutic value of setting and holding financial boundaries in my counseling business I hope to find the creative value of developing a business plan and marketing strategy for my books.

If you’ve figured this one out or if you yourself have developed a business side where you didn’t have one before, I’d be very interested to hear how you did that! Seriously. Contact me with a voice message on where this podcast originates or find my author page on Facebook, Goodreads or Amazon at Sarah Fenlon Falk.

WHEN I have this mastered, or perhaps when I have a better relationship with the business side of things, I will let you know how I did it so that you can do it too! Until then, wish me luck!

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