I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost count of the number of websites, blog posts, tweets and links which talk about how someone grew their following to an enormous size very quickly.
Websites which show you how to ‘guarantee’ you’ll be a success, to ‘maximise the income’ from your blog, and ‘grow your fanbase’. And many of them are happy to sell you their ‘guaranteed’ path to success and wealth.
You know the ones I mean, right?
Now I’ve got nothing against people making money from their work. One day I hope and expect to do it myself. Work costs time, energy, and sometimes money to produce, and making money from it, with integrity, isn’t wrong.
But I’d rather read more posts about how to discover my true identity, become a better, more authentic writer, and be true to the person I was born to be.
There are some out there. But not nearly as many as those which promise success, fortune, status – and fame. They don’t use the word fame, because it’s no longer fashionable to do so.
But that’s what they mean.
For someone nearer the beginning of their journey, it’s easy to get suckered into believing these are the point. And into thinking if you don’t achieve their incredible stats, you’re a failure and should give up.
As I’ve shared here before, I’ve fallen for this story myself, several years ago. Fortunately, I had good friends who put me right. It led to my three month break from public writing, instead writing every day, but simply or myself.
It was the most liberating, freeing, creative period I’ve had.
I fell in love with writing again.
I found my voice.
More recently, I lost the appetite for blogging. I felt I’d begun blogging out of duty. So I freed myself from that obligation, which has led to the same result.
When I gave up the need for a result, the obligation to anyone or anything else, I was liberated to create better, more honest work. And ironically, I became much more productive.
The Biggest Lesson
So what can we learn here?
1) When you tie your identity, your security, to what you do, failure can destroy you.
2) When you tie your creativity to results, it doesn’t make your more creative, but less.
Making money, getting healthy stats, and getting subscribers are good things. But they aren’t the point. They’re never the point.
If you get into any work merely to make money, it’ll never be your best work. And no matter how good or successful the work you do produce, it will never be great work. When you have a failure – which if you’re breathing, you will – you’ll either give up, or allow yourself to drift, and remain unfulfilled.
You’ll never love your work. You’ll only love the fruit of your work.
And whilst fruits can be enjoyable, are they worth it if you feel unfulfilled and empty?
If you’re a writer, do you want to be the best writer you can? Do you want to create the best, most honest work you’re capable of, whatever the outcome?
Then learn to love the work. Not the fruits of the work.
And if this means working a job to pay for your life whilst you create that work, so be it. Because it’s better to create honest, authentic work birthed deep in your soul than it is to produce empty, soulless work which only exists to make money.
Now of course, we all have to pay the bills. Let’s not ignore that.
Some of our passions, callings – medicine and law for example, have natural, straightforward, sources of income. Others don’t. Sometimes pursuing our passions can make us wealthy. In my case, whether I end up making a living out of my art or not, I’ll never use money as my principle motive for creating.
I’ll keep on writing as long as I have breath. Whether I make money from it
I don’t listen to the voices trying to convince me of what is success or failure, guaranteed paths to glory, or inauthentic voices whose work betrays that their true motivation is money.
None of us should.
We all need to ask ourselves what’s more important: To sacrifice authenticity, make loads of money but feel unfulfilled – or potentially have less material wealth, but be totally fulfilled and have joy like you’ve never known?
I’ve made my choice.
James Prescott is a author, blogger, writing coach & podcaster from Sutton, Surrey. James edits 'Christian Writer', the official magazine of the Association Of Christian Writers.
He has authored two e-books, 'Dance Of The Writer' & 'Unlocking Creativity', which you can obtain via his website www.jamesprescott.co.uk. You can listen to his podcast on spirituality & creativity, 'James Talks' on iTunes.