The War of Art7 min read
For years, I’ve been at war with myself, fighting to get my head to believe that my heart beats to the sound of prose, and not one of a cash register. I’ll admit that I’m materialistic to a point; and we all are. You need food to survive. You need a roof over your head. You need internet, a smartphone, a laptop, and an ample coffee supply. You need money for survival. Fine. But getting paid to do the thing you heart really beats for is often excruciatingly difficult, or just downright impossible. Or is it?
The biggest battle I’ve always lost…
Today’s creatives are under more pressure and scrutiny now than ever before. Not all creatives are hipsters, and not all of us are fleeting idealists who live in a bubble of unicorns, rainbows and world peace. Some of us are regular people with extreme struggles and internal battles. Most people don’t even recognise their own talent. Gods know I don’t (I still think my writing is absolute trash).
But the battle I face is one between the realist (my head) and the idealist (my heart). I’ll give you an example of this… Fundamentally, I’m an idealist who would love to write for five or so hours a day and magically have all my bills paid. But realistically, this isn’t possible, because that’s not going to happen by luck or magic (unless you know of someone who can help with this!). The realist in me knows that I require a full time job that will keep the lights on and food on the table, because creative careers can be as unstable as a leaf blowing in the wind.
Sadly, a lot of creatives seem to resonate with this issue. The battle of the heart and the head is not simply reserved for love and romance anymore. So, how do you end the battle? One side has got to win, because there needs to be a priority. For me, the realist has won the priority until the idealist becomes self sufficient. I need to eat, so I will continue rationally working full time, until the idealistic dream job becomes real and stable, and not just a fleck of fiction buried deep in the fissures of my psyche.
Passion and payment don’t marry…
Ah. The bane of us all. Getting paid for what you do. Most often than not, you’d find that creatives bleed just to make ends meet, with many living just above, on, or just below the breadline. The starving artist it’s called. Yes, the internet has changed that with things like kickstarter, Youtube and Patreon, but it’s still a reality for most. Artists and copywriters who work in advertising experience this on another level, where they have their “dream job” but are still slaves to an overly critical approval system, and the stress to money ratio is always tipped heavily to the stress side.
I’ve been there personally. Being fairly compensated for artistic services rendered is nearly impossible because executives have not and will not see the value in art. They believe that it’s simple for a graphic artist to whip up an ad in a few hours, or a copywriter to come up with a winning phrase that can make or break the company. It gets worse when you’re a logical creative, one who sees structure and organisation in everything you do.
So, what do you do as a starving artist? You have to work twice as hard for the life you want. You have to maintain a steady day job, work on your passion before or after work consistently, all while balancing your social life, education, family time, health, and most importantly, sleep. Never compromise your sleep for an extended period of time; a lack of sleep, paired with a heavy mental work load will result in a mental breakdown, guaranteed. It’s not impossible to be happy enough with a simple day job and a sideline career as a comic, writer, artist or crafter. It’s entirely possible because lots of people have blossomed their sideline careers into incredible lifestyles; and that’s the next milestone!
Consistency is nigh on impossible…
Content is King, but consistency is the Queen. We live in a world of content-on-demand, and this has content creators in a constant state of panic and paranoia, fearful of missing the next wave. You have to constantly create, publish, market, and, please and pacify your audience. And somehow you have to balance this madness with a social life, family life, reading a book a week, a full time job, and education because everything in today’s world relies on how versatile, agile and qualified you are, regardless of industry.
It’s hard work. It’s laborious. I hate it. And I love it. As with every industry, you have the great things and the things you wished remained in hell alongside the Kardashians… The pressure of consistency is one of those things. But consistency is the answer to all your problems as a creative. (Not biting off more than you can chew tends to help. Yes, I’m talking about YOU.)
If you wrote a blog post every day for a year, you’d have enough content for two or three book publications. Yeah, some of that content is going to be shit; that’s why Greatest Hits albums are a thing. But in that time, you would have grown tremendously as a writer, you would have definitely amassed a following, and if you know what you’re doing (or know someone who knows what they are doing), you can start to make actual money from it. Imagine, traveling, paying your mortgage and feeding your kids from whatever it is you love doing. Ultimate bliss.
It’s actually not impossible because other people are doing it. And it’s more close to you than you think. You just have to reach out, put in the effort and get it!
If I can do it, so can you. Get cracking!
I’ve decided to start a new column here on Désiré Writes called War of Art, inspired by the amazing book penned by Jeff Goins. In a nutshell, I struggle to balance a full time job as a marketing specialist and write. I’m sure most creatives have the same infliction. Plus, I have to make enough time to read too, because writers need to read as much if not more than they actually write.
Throw dating, social activities, work projects, family gatherings, three dogs and a parrot into that mix and writing seems impossible. I’m writing this and I’m tired, exhausted, and I just want so badly to close the laptop and finish later, adding this post to the other 360+ half written posts sitting in Scrivener.
Powering through this because I needed to just publish something was the first step. Writing is hard. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. It’s hard work, and requires a lot of dedication. Ask any writer who had to balance a full time job and/or a family.
The War of Art column is about my personal struggles as a writer. It’s tough, but if I can manage to publish something, then so should you. I’m holding you personally accountable for your success as a writer. No one but you is to blame for that unpublished masterpiece collecting binary cobwebs.
So I hope this helps someone in some way… and if it does, please reach out and let me know. I always like to know that I’ve helped someone out there. It also motivates me as a writer to keep pushing, because someone else is depending on me to produce this content. So, go forth, write, publish, share, and change the world… one word at a time.