Lexcursions – Business advice for creatives

1 May 2014 | Published in Archive of Everything, Blog, Featured, Law Society Journal, News, Writing | Comment

In-house Lawyer

I didn’t plan to become a lawyer.

Don’t think I ever planned for anything much. That’s the problem really. You see, I was supposed to become a writer, not a lawyer. Instead, I’ve just resigned myself to thinking that law is probably the best paid writing gig going.

But recently, I received an email that rekindled my interest in writing as a career: “Personal Business Advice for Creatives … Anyone working in advertising, animation, film design, illustration, music, performance, writing – or almost any other creative pursuit – can get one hour of expert business advice at no cost.”

I signed up straight away.

I received an email from facilitator and mentor, Monica Davidson: “I am looking forward to hearing about your business … So we can make the most out of our time together please can you email me … your top two challenges in business today.”

I wrote back: “My top two challenges are: finding time to pursue my creative business and making it pay as much as – or even half as much as – my ‘professional’ business.”

The day of my appointment arrived. I met Monica at the Business Enterprise Centre in the city. She asked me about myself, and my creative business.

“Well, I’m a lawyer …”

“I’m not writing down ‘lawyer’,” said Monica. “Just so you know.”

I went on, and told her about my articles for the Journal.

“I’ve just submitted my 50th article.”

“That’s great.”

“And every single article, I’ve submitted on time,” I said, keen to emphasise my professionalism.

“Really great,” she said. “But let me get this out there right away: you’ll never make as much money as a writer as you do as a lawyer. Not even half as much.”

“You never know,” I said. “I might be a really good writer and really crap lawyer.”

Monica said she was sure I was good at both. And it turns out that she’s a writer as well. She said she uses her paying gig – providing business advice – to support her creative pursuits.

“Wait, that sounds like what I do,” I said. “Are you saying that what I’m doing now – supporting my creative work with the law – this is as good as it gets?”

She put down her pen.

“Let me tell you about unicorns and workhorses,” she said.

“Okay …”

“Unicorns are beautiful and precious and special, but you can’t feed a family on a unicorn.”

“I reckon you could get a few good meals out of one.”

“What I mean is that unicorns are important but they can’t carry a heavy load.”

“Oh you mean you can’t carry a family on a unicorn.”

“It sounds to me like your regular column is becoming more like a workhorse,” she said. “I bet nowadays you can just churn out an article without too much effort.”

“I put in loads of effort,” I said. “I made time to come here.”

“You came here for business advice, that’s a workhorse thing to be doing.”

“Could be a unicorn in workhorse’s clothing.”

“I think you need a plan,” she said. “If you want to make a business out of writing, you need to plan – just as you would as a lawyer.”

“Lawyers don’t plan,” I said.

“You must plan for court cases, things like that?”

“Nope. The only reason I ever get anything done is because my clients are always hassling me, chasing me up to do whatever I’ve promised them.”

“I see.”

“Hey, maybe I can use that same strategy in my writing. Make a whole bunch of promises I can’t keep, and then wait for people to start harassing me to deliver.”

“If that sort of pressure works for you, it could be a plan.”

A plan! My hour was up, but I left with a plan. A simple plan – over promise and never deliver – but it’s a plan nonetheless. Methinks it might just work.

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