The Artist’s Double Life: The Day Job

Feeling bifurcated? Jekyll and sometimes Hyde?

Creatives often live a life that mirrors our cell phone plans: we spend our ‘peak minutes’ at a day job while our ‘off peak minutes’ (nights and weekends) afford us little time to get our creativity fix.

"Schizofreakia" Creative Commons: -RobW-

As a creative do you ever feel like this pic to the right?

With my 9-5 as a corporate sales trainer, writing this growing blog, doing a video shoot in a few days and a play reading at the end of the month I make Sally Field’s Sybil look normal.

It’s Not the Day Job

A few months ago I had a breakthrough.

I stopped all the hate.

I stopped blaming my day job for the reason I wasn’t creating. I stopped blaming and started creating.

It was time to be intentional.

 A Little Help From Others

  • My brother in law Matthew tossed out a throw-down and I picked it up: to write every day for a month. That was the start of this blog. I started getting up earlier every day to write and haven’t stopped since. Thanks Matt.
  • I read Quitter by Jon Acuff. The sub title to Acuff’s book: “closing the gap between your day job and your dream job.” If you’re reading this post, chances are you’d connect with this book.
  • My wife helped me sort through it all with a listening ear, compassion and unconditional love. You’re the best. The. Best.

A New Mantra

What if… we thanked our day job for funding our dream projects?

What if… we put value on the things we love by giving them our time and attention? (I’m talking to you Facebook, reality TV and other time-sucking mindlessness)

What if… we chose to live an undivided life in which creativity, innovation and ideation bleeds into every crack and crevice of our lives? Day job and all…

Question: How do you strike the balance between your day job and your creative projects?



Author: Andrew Zahn

I'm a son, husband, dad, business owner, actor and good sleeper/eater. On this blog, I pave a highway for creative growth by providing food, water, and shelter for those wishing to live, work, and play with creative zest.

  • Awesome post, Andrew. Just about anyone can write every day if they make it a priority. I want creativity and innovation to fill me.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Tis true Shawn. You, sir, are an inspiration as you travel with your family across America, writing along the way!

  • In reference to the hate, yeah, acceptance is the first step. A new perspective can change a lot without changing anything about the situation. Then you can think about change from a much better place.

    I’m leaving my day job next month to pursue many passions that have been relegated to off-peak hours over years. It’s terrifying and super-exciting at the same time. I’ll still have to do some things I’m not passionate about out of the gate, but it’s the first step of a many-step process.

    For the first time in life (and I’m gettin’ old!), those two faces are starting to come together as one and it feels fantastic. Thanks for this post, and this blog. These are the things that inspire me to stay focused and keep movin’.

    • Andrew Zahn

      That’s so exciting! Congrats… I wanted to say “I’m envious” but then I read that “it’s terrifying and super-exciting” comment.

      Instead of envy, I’m so happy for you… and maybe I’ll join you… sometime.

      • Thanks, Andrew. I really need to be documenting in more detail the roller coaster of emotions this whole process has created. I’m sure it would be fun to read someday 😉

  • I’m struggling with this right now…I read and highlighted the heck out of Quitter when it came out last spring. I started getting up at 5 to write. I even made peace with my day job.

    Since coming back from Christmas break, it’s harder to devote the necessary energy to the insanity that is the day job. I’ve taken to running Chapter 4 of the Quitter audiobook (falling in like with a job you don’t love) in the background all day. Hoping some of it seeps in….

    • Andrew Zahn

      Osmosis right?

      Be brave.

      • Christine,

        I do the same thing with “The Dave Ramsey Show” podcasts every day! It is most definitely learning and reinforcement through osmosis!

  • I am writing pretty much every day but I find my commitment to my blog sometimes steals time that could be spent on my WIP. A little bit of that whole Robbing Peter to Pay Paul thing. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the blogging but I wonder how others balance the blogging, facebook, twitter, linkedin vrs more literary pursuits…

    • Andrew Zahn

      That’s a whole other post in and of itself isn’t it. The balance of blogging and conventional writing.

      Tip toe on the tightrope…

  • Susan

    Ah, Andrew Zahn, how do I love thy blog – let me count the ways.

    As I wander along this especially interesting leg of my journey through life, I am endlessly amazed at the things that have been placed in my path and the concept that there are no coincidences. It started last summer, oddly enough, after I saw Pirates of the Carribbean 4, which for some reason led to a serious bout of perturbation/artist’s existential angst, which led to an intense interest in the craft/art of acting, which got me to the 24 Hour Plays, which you were in… So now I get to read this great stuff that you put out there which speaks to me so very often. I, too, am struggling to make time and find the energy to pursue creative outlets that give me joy. The twist here is that my day job IS creative. Problem is, it’s very intense, somewhat one-dimensional and I feel so burned out at the end of the day I have nothing left for other things like writing or painting, to name just a couple. Maybe I should do a half hour of long division when I get home to even things out a bit… Anyway, thanks again for writing, Andrew; your blog feels like a gift.

    • Andrew Zahn

      If this comment I’m writing were a video, you’d see I’m blushing.

      Thanks Susan for sharing some of your journey and your kind words.

  • Great piece, Andrew, and I agree with Susan that your wisdom in your blog is a gift. So nice to know there are others who also struggle with all their energy (seemingly) going to the day job. Look forward to checking out the Quitter book.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Let me know what you think of Quitter when you do!

  • Thanks for the post today, Andrew. I need to make peace with my day job, as it is our major provision for not only funding my dream, but paying for the financial mistakes we’ve made in the past.
    Being in a leadership role at work is BEYOND time consuming. I’m grateful for my job, but between long hours, long commute, and only 2 hours a day with the family, my dream is constantly taking the backseat.

    I need to reach “acceptance” instead of being stuck in “anger”. I’ve been getting up earlier in the morning to have time for my dream, and clear my head before going off to do the grind another day.

    Your post was like a shot in the arm of “Quitter”! Thanks, doctor!!

    • Andrew Zahn

      Cheering you on from the sidelines here in PA Scott.

  • Great post! I am impressed with everything about this blog most of all how much attention you get!
    I decided a couple of years ago to make my creative life my day job and its funny the amount of ‘work’ it takes to keep it all happening! but at the end of the day i am doing what I am passionate about and i am realising i complain just as much! haha
    Basically if we are going to be happy we will be whatever we find ourselves doing and usually if we choose to be happy we’ll find ourselves doing more of what tickles our fancy…coolio love it xx

    • Andrew Zahn

      Honored that you’ve stopped by a few times here Arna.

      I love the conversations that are happening here. It’s like we can all coach each other vicariously because we’re creatives.

      Our community is both empowering and comforting.

  • Diane Zahn

    The way I strike the balance is to retire, and move to a retirement community. The surprise is that I still have to be INTENTIONAL. In fact, since my days are less full of the “must be done”, intentionality, discipline, and prioritizing have become more necesssary.

    • Andrew Zahn

      It’s good to hear that for those of us that aren’t retired!

      So easy to make excuses regardless of the day job… or lack thereof!

      Thanks for the comment. I couldn’t have written this blog without you … literally 🙂

  • Life is too short to do work that you hate. Writing can pay and I believe blogging IS a literary pursuit and is the new way to get published now. Thanks for sharing.

  • Boom, you nailed this post bro!!! Success and your dream job is all about doing what unsuccessful people won’t do. It Takes initiative to create, produce, and “ship”(Seth Godin).

  • Andrew – writing out my thoughts help me focus on something other than the day job. There are times where I think I would be overwhelmed if I didn’t have the diversion of thought from what I have to do for a job I love, to what I want to do simply because I want to do it. You get up early to write – I stay up late. Great post. Keep on.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Writing brings great focus doesn’t it?!

      It teaches us to listen. To slow down and, as you said so well, to focus.

      Thanks for dropping by Eleanor!

  • Inspiring post! You know you have surrounded yourself with the right people when you read the comments to your post. It is exciting to read about changes in paradigms and courage displayed.

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  • Georgi Gala

    There is so much influence seeping into our subconscious mind at every moment. We all need to magnetize the positive influence of people such as yourself that make it their mission to
    cultivate creativity and to be open to sharing the valley of challenge, and the glimpse of the mountain top. Our world can change when each of us taps into this wellspring we carry within — how to learn self compassion as an artist is how we expand and infuse the world at large –when each one of us can find our purpose we live and serve the highest potential. Thanks for the big VITamin Creative dose you give out in your blog.

    • Andrew Zahn

      I’m so very grateful you find the blog helpful.

      It’s my pleasure… and thanks for dropping in!

  • PS –>Since you dont have the time –> I have pinned you! aha! on my PINTEREST board as a contributor —>joining you in the aim for a creative cultural evolution!

    • Andrew Zahn

      Hi Georgi!

      Thanks for the PINNING! 😉

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  • Andrew Zahn Thanks for finding me thru twitter, and the article about

    The Artist’s Double Life: The Day Job is exectly where I have been and trying to get out of. I am an freelance Illustrator/Caricaturist/Fine-artist/ art you name it that’s me. Durng the day I am a cook in a large retirement community.

    • I hear you Lars…there’s no shame in working TOWARD your dream job! We’re with you!

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