Being a Creative with a Chronic Illness

creative-chronic-illnessWorking in a creative industry is difficult, period. Being a creative with a chronic illness presents an entirely new set of challenges. When you work as a creative, especially if you are an entrepreneur who works for yourself, you have probably found that you need to work twice as hard as those you know who have a “normal” job to earn the same accolades. It’s somehow not as impressive to start a business as it is to get a job, and that is especially true when your job involves the arts.

You may have found that it doesn’t matter how much money you are bringing in, or how many clients you have. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve just published another book or are speaking at a conference next month. Someone you know is still going to call your creative business or career a “hobby” and ask you when you’re going to get a “real job”.

Surely that business you run on Etsy can’t be real, because you don’t have physical retail space! Surely that freelance or consulting work you’re doing isn’t “real work” because you’ve always loved to draw! You make it look effortless even though it’s not, or you have always loved to paint so surely it isn’t work! – We’ve all heard it.

Now add another layer to that disbelief. Imagine that on top of having people doubt you because on top of not having a “real job” that isn’t something you enjoy, you have a debilitating chronic illness. (Add another layer if you’re someone who has an invisible illness.)

Welcome to the life of thousands of creative people on the planet today, myself included. In this post series I plan to ask others like me how they stay focused, motivated, and productive during the good days and the bad – in spite of the odds and the discouragement that comes from friends and family. (Despite however well-meaning they might be.) – It’s always a challenge when people “don’t get” what you do for a living, but what about when they think you’re “too lazy to get a real job”?

I look forward to diving into this topic in the coming weeks. If you’d like to contribute, comment here with an email address where I can reach you, or email me directly fox [at]

You can check out the interviews in this series here:
Natasha Duncan-Drake
Fox Emm
Sarah Alexander

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