You must support IT
“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
― Stephen King
I truly believe Stephen King when he says not to put pressure on our art to support us.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Author of Eat, Pray, Love, Big Magic etc. agreed. She has always talked about how she didn’t choose to have her writing support her. She felt she had to support it.
“…The first ten years of my creative journey, I did not make a single dime out of writing. And for the next ten years of my creative journey (which included the publication of three books) I always kept alternative day jobs — always made sure I had other streams of income to rely upon.
I did not quit all my other jobs until EAT PRAY LOVE became a crazy bestseller, you guys. And, EAT PRAY LOVE was a freak of nature. The reason I always maintained other streams of income was because I never wanted to burden my creativity with the task of providing for me in the material world.”
I see so many writers trying to put pressure on their writing. Many of them burn out because of the pressure.
I feel the opposite.
I want to take the pressure OFF my creativity so I can feel freer to do better work.
Think about a friend you have. If you put pressure on your friendship or expect way too much from it, this friend might feel uncomfortable and resent you. You might even lose this friend.
I am not willing to lose my most precious friend (creativity) by putting extreme pressures on it.
My writing muse wants to run freeee. It doesn’t do it’s best work if it feels imprisoned.
Don’t you create better when you feel you are not confined?
I know I do.
Yea, financial anxiety is a biggie for many creative people (writers especially.) But, it just makes sense that if we took the pressure off the writing and found another way to support it we might create with far more joy, peace and freedom.
When my brain is not in a state of emotional stress or financial worry I feel happier. I have been in that frantic state many times in my life, so I get it, but to me:
Writing is a joy.
Writing is a privilege.
Writing is a healing act.
Writing is like breathing.
Writing saved me so many times in my life, so I now respect, revere and honor it.
I honor it too much to put it it through stress by demanding it take care of me.
I’ve written steadily in a journal since age 8. That’s over 45 years of steady writing. I will never stop. I feel at age 57 that I‘M JUST GETTING STARTED! I want nothing to damper my love for writing.
If I wanted a career that was a sure money maker I would not have chosen the writers life, or any creative job. I’d have gone to medical or law school or studied to be an accountant. lol.
A writing friend said this to me yesterday about this subject:
“ Every successful author I know didn’t get into it for money or steady money… they got into it because they loved to write. They wouldn’t still be here years later if they got into it for the almighty buck — they would’ve burnt out or gotten frustrated…I think, or quit..”
YES. When we do anything from a place of fear, anxiety or pressure or with this mantra in our heads…”If I don’t have money from this I’m screwed!!” then we live out of lack.
Recently I had an amazing turn of events in my life that I am so thankful for. Now I have zero pressure on me to make a dime from my writing!
Every day when I sit down to write I think of it as a freedom. I am happy that I GET to write. I am beyond thankful that I have a few other income streams that are helping pay to support my dream. I am determined to keep my writing life sacred — and fun.
I don’t expect anything from writing.
I believe my writing expects things from me though. It expects me to stay clear on my vision and commitment to it.
THANKS FOR READING!
Michelle Monet has published 5 non-fiction books including 4 Poetic Memoirs. Her upcoming Memoir will be about her life in show business. She is also writing an autobiographical Broadway Musical.
Here is the full version of Elizabeth Gilberts wise and wonderful words about CREATIVITY AND MONEY. I thought I’d post the whole thing because it’s damn good.
Dear Ones -
Please understand that I have NOTHING against people wanting to make money out of their art. I always wanted to make money out of my art, I always strived to make money out of my art, and now I do make money out of my art, and I am grateful as hell.
But for the first ten years of my creative journey, I did not make a single dime out of writing. And for the next ten years of my creative journey (which included the publication of three books) I always kept alternative day jobs — always made sure I had other streams of income to rely upon.
I did not quit all my other jobs until EAT PRAY LOVE became a crazy bestseller, you guys. And EAT PRAY LOVE was a freak of nature.
The reason I always maintained other streams of income was because I never wanted to burden my creativity with the task of providing for me in the material world.
I do not believe that Creativity comes to us from the material world, and therefore she has no concept of what it takes to survive in the material world. Creativity is a timeless little playful disembodied weird other-worldly goddess. She doesn’t need to eat, she doesn’t need a roof to sleep under, she doesn’t need to go the dentist. (WE DO, but she doesn’t.) Creativity just wants to engage with us (or not, sometimes!) in her own crazy and unpredictable ways, but she never promised to provide for us.
I adore Creativity. I love her. I have devoted my life to her, because she brings me joy. But I do not suggest relying upon her to pay the oil bill. She is not very reliable. Creativity has no idea what the words “oil bill” even mean. Creativity doesn’t give a damn about your auto insurance. She just wants to dance with you, and then sometimes dance away — on her own schedule, on her own strange rhythms.
This is why I made a promise to my writing life when I was about 15 years old. I said to writing: “I will never ask you to provide for me financially; I will always provide for YOU.”
I was willing to work hard, in other words, so that Creativity could play lightly.
I have seen so many beautiful creative souls murder their creative process because of this relentless insistence that they are not real artists unless their art pays the bills. When it doesn’t work out (and often it doesn’t, because, once more, Creativity is a FLAKEY AND WEIRD airhead goddess) these people become angry, bitter, stuck, bankrupted, and — worst of all — they often quit creating at all.
Let me tell you what makes you a “real artist”:
Are you making art?
Then you’re a real artist.
I met a women recently who’d quit her job in order to embark on a creative project that, in her words, “didn’t work out”. Now she was in both financial trouble and emotional trouble. She said to me, “I am angry at creativity. I took the leap. I gave it everything I had. And creativity let me down.”
Those of you who follow this page regularly have heard me say it before, but I will say it again now:
CREATIVITY OWES US NOTHING.
Creativity owes us NOTHING in exchange for our devotion to her — except the gorgeous experience of getting to work with her at all.
You know how they say, “Jump and the net will catch you?” Well, not always. Jump off the cliff on Creativity’s watch, and she might be polishing her nails at the moment of your leap, and she might forget to catch you. Because she’s a FLAKE.
Nothing is ever promised, nothing is ever certain.
Those are the terms; that’s the contract.
This does not mean that you should not take creative risks. But know that they are risks. Creative endeavors are always freaky casinos. You cannot go into any creative field expecting or demanding satisfying worldly rewards. (You can want it, and you can strive for it…but you cannot demand it. You do not get to set terms and conditions upon which Creativity delivers rewards.) The joy and strangeness of the creative process itself is your reward — MUST be your reward. Otherwise, you are doomed to be anxious and angry all the time.
You do not need to be a millionaire in order to fund your own creative explorations. You do not need a sugar daddy. You do not need a “studio wife”. You do not need a trust fund. You just need to say, “I am taking complete accountability for my own creative journey.”
I wrote my first book while I was a diner waitress. I wrote my second book while I was a diner waitress and a bartender. I wrote my third book while I was a bartender who also worked in a bookstore and who also worked as a journalist. When EAT PRAY LOVE (my fourth book) came out, I was still working at a flea market on weekends. If it wasn’t for the bananas success of EAT PRAY LOVE, I would still be doing other jobs.
Nobody has ever paid my bills but me. Not a parent, not a man, not an artistic patron.
I paid my own bills, and then — on the side — I was free to dance my own crazy dance with the beautiful, irresponsible, irresistible, unpredictable goddess of Creativity.
I have always been my own artistic patron; you can be yours, too.