Courtney M. McSwain, Writer

Dear Reader: On Money

Origami Dollar Image

Photo Credit: (CC) Vaguely Artistic

Dear Reader,

When I quit my job to work freelance, I had four months of living expenses and a very lofty idea of how I was going to sustain myself. My plan for earning money was: Get clients. My plan for attracting clients was: Be awesome. Needless to say, I soon realized it would take a deeper level of thinking about how to earn money as a freelancer in order to survive.

Since launching into the freelance world, I’ve had to work part time as a barista and borrow money from my parents to keep the dream alive. Working in a coffee shop was actually fun, but borrowing felt awful because it forced me to confront one of my biggest shortcomings—I suck at money. Managing and thinking about money frequently sends me into high anxiety. Even still, there’s no turning back on my writing and entrepreneurship dreams now, so the only option left is to figure out how to get better.

Many artists and changemakers may feel the same burden of anxiety around money, but there’s no way around the fact that we need it to do our work and make the positive impact we seek. So this month, we’re having an open and honest discussion about money and creativity. To help me, in a post coming up tomorrow, I’ve invited Leah Lakins of Fresh Eyes Editorial to share her thoughts in a new Q&A Series, “Artist & Changemakers On…” Also, later this month, I’ll review the book, “Living and Sustaining A Creative Life: Essays By 40 Working Artists,” edited by Sharon Louden.

Remember, this is a discussion, so I’d love to hear from you! How does your relationship with money impact your creative work?

Share your thoughts with me in the comments section, or you can always find me on Facebook and Twitter.

See you with another post on Friday.



  1. Yay for another post! I’m excited about this –> Q&A Series, “Artist & Changemakers On…”

    Anyway, I realized a long time ago that I wanted to be creative … ‘on my own terms.’ It seems better that way… more authentic… more REAL. There’s nothing like dropping a ball of creativity on the floor… watching it shine and then having others be better off for it… gawking at when you’ll give more. I then got to take more time and decide when I’d bless others (let me live some!) with another ball drop.

    MY reality with trying to pay bills with that type of creativity wasn’t as swell, however. Because bills and expenses are consistent, so too my pay must and that means my creativity output must as well. Oh the conundrum! Is forced creativity even creativity at all? Is it still art? Put there’s pressure! 🙂

    Anyway, I’ve worked it out. As a standard, I teach others to pay bills and THEN be creative on their own time. Sure that doesn’t sit well with everyone and doesn’t apply to all, but really, it’s not supposed to. It’s a good standard though, I think.

    Thanks for sharing your story. So many of us feel like stepping toward a dream is the last step at happiness. While the road after that first step has lots of green pastures, we’re bound to hit our toes on some of the rocks along the way. #ijs

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