20160830_135840Did I Write This Week?

YES! But not as much as I would have liked to.

What Did You Write?

Once again trying to flesh out and finish Zombies and Loathing, I’ve got about 700 words of the next part down. I’m thinking that when I’ve got 3 or 4 of the final 6 parts completed I’ll start posting them. So there’s that.

Last week I spoke about the struggles of actually finishing a project. Back in June I talked about how I generally try to stay motivated without someone breathing down my neck and the reality that in all likelyhood there won’t be any sort of financial payoff.

I’d like to (and who’s going to stop me) expand on that a little bit.

Last time I really focused on writing for the joy of it, not taking yourself too seriously and kind of forgetting that maybe, if you’re incredibly talented, motivated and lucky, you could make some money doing the creative thing that you love.

This week I’m going to let myself dream a little bit and imagine what it would be like if someone told me “Hey, I would like you to write about this, and I will pay you.” Or, more realistically “Hey, I would like you to write about this, and I will give you exposure.”

What do you do then? You’re doing this thing (be it writing, making music, painting, pro wrestling, or whatever) and you’re all about just doing it for fun and for yourself. Now, somebody comes along and is wanting to make it a little more professional, either offering you actual financial compensation or some other intangible reward (like exposure and recognition).

One of the main reasons we started up this website was to have an outlet to cut loose for our more creative endeavours. At the time, we all had 9to5 jobs; but none of us were defined by those jobs. That’s changed a bit, Sophie now more or less supports herself exclusively with her talents as an artist (makeup or otherwise), but for the rest of us, it still holds true.

How come I’ve never really tried to get work as a writer? Because I want it to stay fun. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself. I like the idea of being able to put this down whenever I want, to take a week off here and there if I choose to.

I suppose there’s the problem that without tying my well-being directly to my creativity I won’t be hungry enough to really tap into that raw panic mode of “I will literally not be able to pay rent if I don’t get out there and push myself”. But then I’d sacrifice the financial safety of having a regular 9to5 job where I’m contributing to RRSPs and whatever grownup stuff.

What I’m trying to get at is I think you need to do some soul-searching when you’re deciding what level of involvement you want finances to play in your creative process. Are you happy not making money from your art? Do you want to make a little money on the side? Do you want to go all in and try to support yourself completely with your art?

I decided that I want to write a book, and if that book ultimately gets published and I make some money off it, I’ll be ecstatic. If I just publish it for free and a handful of people read it, I’ll be happy. I know full well that the process will take much longer since there’s no way I can devote several hours a day to writing while also working a full time job, so in that sense, there’s a bit of a sacrifice. My “conservative” timeline has me finishing 100,000 words of manuscript in about 2 years. Then who knows how long it will take me to go back and edit all that. I have literally no reference for that kind of work.

If I quit my job, I feel like I would probably suddenly have the panicky motivation to sit down and put a few hours a day into this project as I quickly burnt through my savings. I’d either have a finished book in under a year or I’d come slinking back to work with my tail between my legs like a scorned puppy. I guess what stops me from quitting is that there’s no guarantee that when I finish the project I’ll actually ever see a dime.

I mean, we’re all aware how hard it is to “make it” creatively. Where would I be if I finished and edited a book and couldn’t make a penny from it? Flat broke. Unemployed. No savings. Ugh, that’s heavy man.

Maybe that stark reality would produce my best work, or maybe I’d just be a sad sack who is depressed and the opposite of creative.

Man, I don’t know.

Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.

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