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Your Day Job

Austin Kleon talks about it in his book “How to Steal Like an Artist,” Elizabeth Gilbert has a chapter about it in her book “The Big Magic,” Hugh MacLeod explains it with a beautiful example in his book “How to Be Creative.”

Basically, the message is the same.

It will take time for your art to make you enough money so that you can live off it. In the meantime, you need a day job.

“A day job is which pays you well enough and doesn’t rob you off the all energy so that you can’t even create. It gives you connection to the world and a routine. A day job puts you in the path of other human beings. Learn from them, steal from them.” – Austin Kleon

Hugh Macleod has Sex and Cash theory.

“The creative person basically has two kind of jobs, one is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bill. One year John Travolta will be in an ultra-hip flick like Pulp Fiction (“Sex”), the next he will be in some dumb spy thriller (“Cash”).

Soon you accept it, I mean really accept this, for some reason your career start moving ahead faster. I don’t know why this happens. It’s the people who refuse to clean their lives this way – who just want to start Day one by quitting current crappy day job and moving straight on over to best-selling author … well they never make it.” – Hugh Macleod

Elizabeth Gilbert takes it one step further.

“I have always felt like this is so cruel to your work – to demand a regular paycheck from it, as if creativity were a government job, or a trust fund. If you can manage to live comfortably off your inspiration forever, that’s fantastic. That’s everyone’s dream, right? But don’t let that dream turn into a nightmare. Financial demands can put so much pressure on the delicacies and vagaries of inspiration. You must be smart about providing for yourself. To claim that you are too creative to think about financial questions is to infantilize yourself – and I be you not to infantilize yourself, because it’s demeaning to your soul. (While it is lovely to be childlike in your pursuit of creativity, in other words, it’s dangerous to be childish.)”

Many creative souls murder their creativity by making it their prime source of living too soon.

Many artists go broke or crazy because they have this idea that they can’t create unless they dedicate themselves exclusively to their creativity.

And when they can’t pay their bills and they have to take a “job” they descend into resentment, anxiety, and aversion to art. That is when they say goodbye to creativity forever living a life of resentment

Elizabeth Gilbert kept her day jobs until her fourth book got published, way after the insane success of Eat Pray and Love.

J. K. Rowling worked when she was an impoverished single mother while writing the Harry Potter series.

Toni Morrison used to get up at five o’clock in the morning in order to work on her novels before going off to her work in the publishing industry.

I had to wait till my financial responsibilities were over and I had access to my superannuation before I took the plunge into my creative life.

What you can do is to find a job that can pay you well enough to pay your bills and leave you with enough time and energy to invest in your creative pursuits.

You can also look for a job that can teach you certain skills you need towards your creative endeavors.

A library job can teach you how to do research, graphic design job can teach you how to make your website look pretty and copywriting job can teach you how to sell things with words.

The worst thing a day job does is take time away from you, but it makes up for that by giving you a daily routine in which you can schedule a regular time for your creative pursuits.

Figure out what time you can carve out, what time you can and stick to your routine. Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time.


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