Is The Company You Keep Hurting Your Creativity?

Support System

We are who we surround ourselves with—after all, they’re our coworkers, our inspirations, our mainstays. But is the company you keep helping or hurting your creative career? Ask yourself these three questions to check in on just who impacts your freelance life.

Who surrounds me physically?

You’re at the center of your creative life, but the people in your immediate orbit can be just as important. Ask yourself who you see on a regular basis. Who are the colleagues, friends, family members and competitors you run into when you walk down the street, go to a conference, or grab a desk at your local coworking space?

Now, assess how each of these people impacts you. Assign a mood grade to each. Do they elevate your mood or send it crashing with harsh critiques, boundary transgressions, or inconsiderate sucks of your time? Do they help you stay focused or discourage you from what matters?

Who surrounds me emotionally?

What’s your support system like? If you were to give it a grade, what would it earn? If your support system earns a B- or lower, consider this your wake-up call. In order to produce our best work, we need a solid scaffold of people who help us learn, let us vent, accept our flaws and foibles, and offer encouragement.

If you’re running low on support, decide how you can build out your network. Perhaps it’s time to hire a life coach, go into therapy, find a mentor or networking group, or just call your best friend more often.

Who do I want to be?

Okay, not the easiest question to answer…but once you know what you’re aiming at, it’s easier to tweak your professional network to support those dreams. If you’re a writer, but never go to book-related events, why not? If you’re a visual artist and know zero people in the gallery world, it’s going to be that much harder to get your work displayed and recognized.

It can be intimidating to claim your space among self-proclaimed creatives, but just remember—you’re defined personally and professionally by the company you dare to keep. Make sure you’re surrounded by the people you want, deserve, and long to have in your life.

Erin Blakemore FOLLOW >

Erin Blakemore is a library school drop-out, historian, freelance writer, and author of the award-winning The Heroine’s Bookshelf (Harper). She dishes about books, history, and channeling your inner heroine at