During my stint as a web developer in the corporate world and my short stint as a freelance web designer I found that I would ask myself frequently if I could do design/development every single day for the rest of my life. The answer was always yes, if I could just do it on my own without having to worry about outside influences (aka clients). I always dreamed of an utopia where you could have fun designing and programming without any stress at all. The only criticism laid upon your work was the criticism placed by yourself.
I know that some designers/developers are able to enjoy all of their clients and all the work that they do. How do they do it? I have no idea, because I know that I was never even close to that. Once you invite a client in to pay the bills you lose a part of that freedom. Some clients wish to take all of that freedom away from you and those are the ones that you just don’t deal with.
The reason I say that you lose part of your freedom is because you aren’t painting a piece of art to be auctioned off to someone who happens to like your style (unless you do template design), but you are mixing your design tastes with that of the client. That’s where part of your freedom goes.
That’s why personal site design is so important. Every designer/developer needs her playground to experiment and have fun with. You can see it here on Whitespace every single day almost. I am on design #46 I believe for this site. The design moves along with my tastes for the moment and I get to see what works and what doesn’t. Many would argue that constantly changing the design can turn your readers off. This may certainly be the case, but no offence to your readers, at times you have to look out for your own happiness.
I believe if you want to do design your whole life there has to be a part of your day, week, month, year that you devote to your own work. Try your best to filter out what other’s will think of it and focus on how you feel about it. Hell, you don’t have to make every site you do a public one. Create a section that is just for you and have at it.
Even when you do this though, you can get burnt out from work, whether it be the corporate world or demanding clients. What keeps you going? How close have you been to just saying fuck it and moving on to something else? Can you do design your whole life?