The Good Life and Hard Times of Embracing Your Creativity: A Lesson from Nina Simone

by HeatherGeo

 “Please be patient with your life, it’s only morning and you’ve still to live your day.”

In the Morning (Barry Gibb) As recorded by Nina Simone on the Saga of the Good Life and Hard Times

Nina Simone/The Jazz SingerCreative Commons License Compose4U via Compfight

In 1954, a young woman named Eunice stepped into the Midtown Bar & Grill in Atlantic City. She was looking for a survival job to get through college and the bar was looking for a singer. She landed the job and transformed into the legendary Nina Simone.

Her survival job changed the course of her life and her career.

 Nina was a pursuing a career as a classical pianist; singing was her side job to pay for classes at Julliard School of Music. She soon began attracting big crowds to the Jersey club because of her eclectic mix of musical styles.

Combining blues, classical, folk, jazz, pop, and show tunes by Cole Porter, and Richard Rodgers, she stamped her personal style across each genre. Her songbook was uniquely Nina.

Please Be Patient With Your Life

Your creative journey will take you to some unexpected places. During this journey you will go through a lot of pitfalls. You may have to work a plethora of survival jobs to pay the bills. If Nina hadn’t been forced to take a survival singing job, the world might have missed out on her vocal mastery.

Creative careers are a rugged path. You may land your dream job only to be laid off or fired. During her career Nina went through many record labels due to creative differences, bad record deals, or poor management, but she made over 40 original albums and was nominated for many Grammy awards.

You’ll have plenty of setbacks. Consider these experiences opportunities to build upon your creative arsenal. The setbacks are your badge of courage. The sobering fact is that any creative career takes time and dogged perseverance.

 So be patient with your creative journey and learn to embrace the pitfalls they will teach you the beauty and discipline of honest perseverance.

It’s Only Morning You’ve Still to Live Your Day

“Critics started to talk about what sort of music I was playing, and tried to find a neat slot to file it away in.” Nina Simone from her 1991 biography I Put a Spell on You

Critics are the weeds in your creative garden and they will show up in full force whenever you push your creative projects.

In her book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron defines such critics as crazy makers calling them “persons who create storm centers” and are always  “long on problems and short on solutions.” Dig them out of your creative garden and throw them in the rubbish pile.

Seek out an honest and supportive creative team and connect with them regularly for feedback.

Throughout her career, Nina did not allow herself to be categorized into a single genre. Her musical talent busted through boundaries.

If you’re starting a business, writing an album, creating a new piece of software, pounding out a book, or whatever your creative path, give yourself plenty of grace for false starts, crappy drafts, total failures and lots of gut-wrenching doubt. But don’t give up on the process.

Remember, it’s the morning of your life – how do you want to live your day?

Action Tip: Do one thing today to embrace your creativity. The act of making the decision to commit to a creative project and following through boosts you from an amateur to a professional. Sign-up for a free business class, start a writing group, take guitar lessons, make the plan to open your bakery.

For further inspiration: Nina Simone website

Nina Simone Biography: I Put a Spell on You

Julia Cameron: The Artist’s Way




{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Hilary Sutton September 10, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Heather, thanks for sharing this. It really resonated with me as I’m venturing from the world of freelance into owning my own writing and social media business, HSL Creative. Getting your start at your day job. Wow. Nina was truly an inspiration.


HeatherGeo September 10, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Hey Hilary,

Thank you for commenting! Nina was an inspiration and so are you for getting out there and starting your own company! Keep me posted on your progress.


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