Tuesday 12 January 2021

If You Do What You Love, You'll Never Work a Day in Your Life?

 We’ve all heard the famous Marc Anthony quote: If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

As an author, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. 

In the first place, let’s get this clear: I believe all authors should be fairly paid for their work. But I’m not a subscriber to the above philosophy. Personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to take what you love doing and turn it into something you rely on for an income.

I think as soon as what you love becomes your sole source of income, you start to love it a little less, and resent it a little more every day.

I’m an author, and like most authors, I have a day job. In my case, that’s software development. I love it and would never want to leave it. Most days, it’s a joy to go to work, but other days... it’s just a job. It’s what I have to do, regardless of whether I’m in the mood, whether I’m feeling particularly inspired, or whether the project I’ve been assigned speaks to me.

It’s my job, and I’m okay with that.

The thing is, I never want that to become my writing reality. I love writing; I love telling stories, and I love the idea of people reading them and reviewing them (a little extra pocket money doesn’t hurt either, because authors, like any artists, should be fairly compensated for their work).

I guess that’s a big part of why it never occurred to me to pursue traditional publishing. I want to write and publish on my terms and only on my terms. I never want to have obligations or deadlines, or feel like I have to compromise the stories I want to tell — and how I present and package them — just to survive.

I know that for plenty of authors, writing full time is the ultimate dream. It’s not my dream, and I wonder how many of those authors have really considered what a full-time career as an author would mean, in terms of all those sacrifices and obligations. 

I’m also intimately aware that not everyone is as lucky as I am. Not everybody has a job that fulfils, challenges, and lifts them up. Many authors are stuck in soul-destroying day jobs that suck all their creativity away, for whom getting up in the morning is something they dread more than anything. To those people, I might say to be even more careful about dreaming of a full-time writing career. Not only is the grass always greener on the other side, but when you’re in this situation, it feels like absolutely anything would be better than what you’re going through now.

To these people, I’d say they should absolutely look for a different job. Perhaps in the same career but a different company with different people (that can make a massive difference to your job satisfaction), perhaps in a slightly different career: one that exercises their creative muscle somewhat, perhaps closer to writing — blog posts or marketing copy or something? — but not the kind of writing that fills them with joy. That kind of writing should be reserved for their relaxation time. The times when they feel inspired. The times when they’re moved and called to write. Not things they’re forced to do in order to make a living and survive.

What do you think?

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