J.O.B. vs J.O.Y.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

June 2017:

I’ve been reading a fair amount of stories here on Medium. It’s a pretty cool place and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all manner of insights shared by my fellow bloggers. As I looked closer at some of the stories it became clear a few of the bloggers were pros or semi-pros offering various services to writer wannabes out there. Strategists at manipulating tagging and data and so on to get your message ‘out there’.

I read the comments section under one such ‘spiritual coach’ and found many thankful desperate souls searching for an iota of guidance from the chalice of webmaster wisdom to grow their audience and set them on to the road to Shangrala. And then, there was this one person. I instantly loved them. Their comment was more or less of the ilk — ‘Why does it matter?’ My soul screamed ‘YES!!!’ and applauded loudly!

Why does it matter who reads your work or what your ‘numbers’ look like? Growing your audience here gets you what? More kudos? More likes? More responses? More followers? A bigger fan club? It clicks the ‘ON’ button in your ego center and warm fuzzies flood your brain whenever you check your stats page. I understand. But be careful with that because once the ego gets involved, all the joy starts to trickle away.

Here’s the deal with art or creative ventures of any sort. When someone tells you to do what you love and try to make a living at it — they are leading you down the road to disaster. Very few humans (human nature being what it is) will be able to sustain the love of their craft through the drudgery of turning it into a ‘living’.

Yes, I do understand the financial rewards of the Medium Partnership Program as I am a member.

But if you are writing to make a living and are desperate to get your stuff read, you need a day job. And likely writing won’t ever be your day job. Writing is a creative endeavor. According to the hierarchy of needs, you would have to feel safe, be feed and warm before your creativity would begin to be engaged (Psychology 101). That, boys and girls, is the definition of a day job.

Do not despair, however. There are day jobs which allow you to pursue your creative outlets and grow them. And if you are good, open, vulnerable and lucky (more lucky than good — I think), you might get to the point where the creative outlet becomes the major breadwinner. It happens. But not usually.
The most any of us can really hope for is a good balance. We have a job which provides us with safety, food, and shelter so we can open up our creative channels and pursue those avenues of expression which bring us joy.

For each one of us, the tipping point on the scale is very personal — the fine edge between obligation and self-expression, responsibility and creative release, J.O.B. and J.O.Y.

I’m not any more interested in giving my money to a writing coach to tell me how to express myself creatively than I am in giving it to an evangelist to tell me how to express myself spiritually. Both experiences are deep. And personal. I think if you need to pay someone to tell you how to do it, you might need meditation and some self-reflection to set you on your path more than an outside opinion about what is right for you.

No one paid me to say that.