Don’t You Dare Let Go of Your Dreams
If you allow practicality to override your passions what do you have left?
At the moment there is a plethora of people out there suggesting that writers should give up trying to find their passion and should, instead, attempt a more realistic approach to life. For realistic approach read ‘follow a course that makes more money’. Money has become the yardstick with which our society measures success. So insidious has this thinking become, the modern assumption is that provided you make money, happiness will automatically follow.
I am disappointed to see how much this mindset is creeping into this platform. There are dozens of writers out there who are subtly, or not so subtly, suggesting that we surrender all of those dreams that attracted us to creative work in the first place. Instead, they would have us take our writing in directions that assure the most chance of financial reward.
One needs to ask oneself where the world would be if every writer, artist or musician had followed this way of thinking.
I am not naive enough to suggest that writers need to abandon reality altogether, but I do believe that they need to cling to those dreams that initially brought them into this field. A chunk of my income is made from ghostwriting. Some of that work can be so boring that I occasionally paint a wall and then sit in front of it to watch the paint dry, just for the adrenalin rush. My dreams, however, are still very much alive and writing about food, culture, travel and the environment are still a big part of what I do. None of these subjects brings in a huge pay cheque but they are important to me and therefore I prioritize them.
In case you are thinking I am young and starry-eyed and will eventually come around to seeing the world the way it really is, I should point out that I am sixty and have chased elusive and impractical dreams all of my adult life. Those dreams have taken me all over the world and paved the way to a million adventures. I have never been, and probably never will be, rich in financial terms. At the same time, I have always lived a comfortable life and never wanted for a good meal.
Most of my friends have kept to the corporate ladder and many of them are now extremely well off. When we sit down over a few beers and they have finished telling me of all their latest board room conquests, the guard often comes down and what is revealed is that they are deeply unhappy.
They now realize that the ladder they have been climbing for so many decades is endless and with each rung they scale, another one appears.
Those massive homes and luxury cars which are so vital to their images aren’t quite as attractive as they once thought they were. They have sold their dreams and their freedom for the illusion that one day they will be able to buy something bigger and better. All the while, time has slipped away and that is the one thing all their money cannot buy.
For those writers, artists and musicians out there, I urge you not to heed the current wave of advice about how to convert your craft into a money stream or how to ruthlessly grow your list of followers. By way of an alternative, I suggest you take some time to examine what it was that first attracted you to what you do and to carve your own path.
If your dreams have become diluted then rediscover them. It is never too late to turn around.
Society’s demands and promises will never really satisfy you if you are not being who you were meant to be. The world wants for men and women with fire in their bellies, not bulges in their wallets. I predict that the current trend of ‘how to get rich’ articles and stories will fade from this platform. Those who survive will be producing interesting and informative content that challenges the reader. That is what writers are supposed to do.
Write the words that you are passionate about and let the world be damned. Passion will make you a better writer and a more interesting person. You might have to do some shitty side hustles to keep things rolling but you will be true to yourself. Unless you do that, everything you ever do is going to feel like second best, no matter how much you dress it up and paint it with gold.