Choose your own adventure: Get your creative career started with one of these first steps

Read time: 2 min.

Practical steps to get past the hardest part in pursuing a creative career — getting started.

Breaking onto the career scene as a creator can be a challenge, to say the least. There is no easy, three-step plan of action for writers, artists, and designers to turn what they do into a living. No two creators follow the same path.

The hardest part is getting started. Once you get started, one thing will usually lead to the next. That’s where the list I’m about to share with you comes into action.

Here’s my challenge to you: Read through the list below and pick just one step to take. See where that one step takes you. Don’t worry about the rest.

The List:

1. Build your portfolio

Creating work is how you get better. It’s also how you show people you know what you’re doing. Create as much as you can, then curate it so you’re only showing off your best work. Create a portfolio website or a physical portfolio.

2. Get an internship

Sometimes you have to start out by working for free to prove yourself. If you can find a paid internship, more power to you. This will help you build your portfolio and network. Internships often lead to permanent jobs, too.

3. Cold call or email

Do some research on Google, LinkedIn, or even Instagram or Facebook, to find the name and contact information of someone who is currently doing what you want to do. Then, reach out to them. Ask them for advice for someone starting out in the field. Ask them if you can job shadow them for an afternoon. Ask them to look at your portfolio and critique it. It doesn’t really matter what you ask — just make the connection.

4. Network

Cold calling can work, but you’re going to get a lot further when reaching out to someone who knows someone who can vouch for you. You could attend a professional networking event, but networking can also happen more organically. If you overhear someone at a coffee shop talking about a job that’s right up your alley, introduce yourself and ask them about it. Walk into a business and ask them what opportunities they have in your field. The key is to make your name, face, and career goal known. Other people can help you take it from there.

5. Take a class

Sometimes having a degree can give you an advantage, but other times it isn’t necessary. Ask others in your potential career field if they think it’s necessary and go from there. You could take a class as part of a degree program, or just take an isolated class to improve your skills. This will give you opportunities to network and build your portfolio, as well.

After you take your first step, let me know how it went (comment below or reach out to me on social media: @theadventuresofmic). I’m willing to bet you will have gotten your start and figured out the step you need to take after that on your own.

The 5 best downtown Springfield coffee shops for writing

Read time: 2 min.

The best spots downtown to get writing or other work done when you need to get out of the house.

When I have some writing I need to get done and catch a pang of procrastination, suddenly my whole house becomes a big project. You might find me cleaning the furthest corners of the pantry which haven’t been touched in years, or ironing every shirt in my closet to perfection, or any other completely unnecessary task that is not writing.

I get a lot of things done when I’m really supposed to be doing other things.

When it’s really bad, the only solution is to get out of the house. Luckily, there are plenty of great writing spots in Springfield, Missouri, the city I live just outside of. Some of my favorites are located downtown. Coffee shops are usually the perfect atmosphere to get inspired and focused.

Here are 5 of my favorite downtown Springfield coffee shops to write at:

1. Kingdom Coffee

Unit #100, 211 S. Market Ave.

The atmosphere: Kingdom Coffee is the right mix of cozy and airy. The decor is modern yet rustic, with an industrial flair. Plants sprinkled throughout the room give it an earthy feel. With two rooms, there are plenty of seating options.

What to order: In the winter, the O Holy Nog is a must — think eggnog, but add coffee for a whole new take on the classic drink. Year round, all the coffee drinks are top notch.

2. The Coffee Ethic

124 Park Central Square

The atmosphere: Located right on the square, you’re in the right place for people watching out the window at The Coffee Ethic. Dimmer lighting and industrial decor makes it cozy so you can feel at home, but not actually be at home where there is a distraction obstacle course.

What to order: Personally, I’m a fan of the chai latte and a cinnamon roll, with plenty of icing.

3. European Cafe

207 Park Central E.

The atmosphere: The European Cafe is the best choice if you need plenty of bright lighting to work. The room has lots of seating and airy, elegant decor. If you want to pretend you’re in Europe for the afternoon, go here.

What to order: You absolutely can’t pass up the macarons. Grab a drink to go with them.

4. Cherry Picker

601 S. Pickwick Ave.

The atmosphere: Cherry Picker has a charming hole-in-the-wall feel to it. It’s extremely small, but if you can snag a spot at the bar facing the window, you’re in for some focused writing time.

What to order: I liked the chai latte (my go-to), and I’m sure the other drinks are great, too. Leland’s grilled cheese was out of this world, if you happen to be there at lunch time.

5. The Potter’s House

724 S. National Ave.

The atmosphere: This place is the closest you’re going to get to a home away from home, as it’s literally located in a house. There are three levels filled with cozy nooks around every corner.

What to order: There is an extensive menu here, and I like everything I’ve tried. The Thai tea is my personal favorite. The Oreo Quicksand is all the buzz if you’re craving a milkshake, and the Honeybee smoothie is a healthier option that will still satisfy your sweet tooth.

What’s your favorite local coffee shop? Tell me where I need to go next in the comments!

P.S. If you’re working on a novel during your next coffee shop visit, check out this resource from author Beth Linton about the concept of showing rather than telling in writing. She gives practical tips and great examples from classic novels.