It’s the dilemma of almost any creative. You have this passion…for something that doesn’t pay well, if you’re lucky. Most cases it doesn’t pay at all. You need to put food on the table, but all you want to do is write, or create beautiful soundscapes, or draw, or paint. So what do you do?
You get a real job.
It’s all right, you think. I’ll just do this to provide for the family and put food on the table until my big break. Until I can do what I love and get paid for it.
The reality is that for most people, this will never happen.
Come on. Nobody wants to hear that, right? (Especially me)! I want to hear the encouraging stories! The stories about the people who did make it. Who are doing what they love and getting paid for it.
Recently, I was watching a documentary about J.K. Rowling and her journey to success with the Harry Potter franchise. In the middle of the show, they had another author speak about her influence…an author I had never heard of, and doubt many other people have either.
That was sobering.
Here’s J.K. Rowling, probably the most commercially successful author of all time, talking about how she broke through, how she won…and then we cut to a guy that, well, didn’t “break through,” and may never. Now, I don’t presume to know anything about this guy, (who knows, he may be a famous author) but for the sake of argument, let us suppose that he still has a day job. He’s a published author, but he gets his writing done early in the morning, or maybe on breaks at work, hammering out notes on his iPhone in the office kitchen. There are no eight hour stretches of writing, save for maybe the weekends, but even then he’s busy doing things with family and friends.
What am I getting at?
That’s actually something to be grateful for. In fact, I can think of three reasons why, right now, I love my day job…and you should too:
1. It forces discipline
If I don’t have a day job, I can’t guarantee that I get up every morning to write. Having responsibility, having routine – it actually frees up more time for your brain to be more creative! To be better! It’s less time worrying about what you’re going to wear, or when you need to be somewhere, and more time thinking about what your characters are going to do next!
2. It forces me to prioritize
I don’t have eight hours in a day that I can devote to reading, writing, and plotting. I have maybe four. About an hour and a half in the morning, (if I don’t oversleep) and then however many I can steal away in the evening between, dinner, cleanup, house maintenance, shopping, dates, etc. I have to know what I’m working on and stick with it until it’s done.
3. It puts bread on the table
Let’s be real. At the end of the day, what is it that’s paying the bills? Maybe the writing covers an electric bill here and there, or allows for a special date, but about 99.9% of the income is thanks to the ole day job. The grind. So until/if the day ever comes that I do get to do what I love for a living, I’ll keep showing up for work. Staying disciplined, prioritizing, and putting food on the table.
And that’s why I love my day job.
It’s easy to complain. Take a stand and tell me why you love your day job in the comments below! I’d love to hear your reasons!