Creative vs. Professional

For sake of convenience, on this site I’ll use the term creative to mean my work for me and professional to mean my work for others. However, I always strive to make my professional work creative and for my creative work to be professional.

Remember, writing is a craft. It’s one reason I love the word playwright. A wright is an Old English term (wryhta) from an even older Indo-European root (werg) meaning work. Playwright and shipwright are pretty much the only modern words to retain that meaning – mill and wheel wrights having been pushed out by “Big Tire,”

It’s very romantic to think of yourself as something like a cabinetmaker, shaping airtight dovetail joints, carving intricate inlays, and hand polishing burls with linseed to buttery sheen. It’s much better than the image of the hack writer, tapping away madly on an Underwood, pulling out the onionskin to set on the growing stack, only to roll in another and begin again.

There’s an assumption with creativity that it’s something that just happens – it’s magic. One time when I lead a custom courseware development team, our director loved to bring customers on tours past our area with the declaration, “This is where the magic happens!” And afterward (more than once) I would meet with him to correct that line.”

“You can’t keep calling it magic.”

“Why not? It’s a compliment.”

“Because, magic takes no effort. Magic just happens. Nobody will pay for magic. But they always pay for craftsmanship. And they know it takes time.”

Want more proof? What’s the icon for high-paying professional? Doctor. What do they call their work? A practice.

So, while it may be convenient to use terms like creative and professional to differentiate our work, keep in mind, it should always be both.

Image Credit: Henti Smith, Wagon Wheel (cropped from original)

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