I’ve told this story a few times before, but perhaps a short recap would be useful.
Once upon a time there was a young boy who dreamed of being a writer for living, but upon getting to high school and learning how little that could pay (in fact there was a recent story on that saying the average writer in Canada only makes about $12,000/year) he decided to instead leverage his math and science talents into a degree in Chemical Engineering instead. Somewhat unsatisfied with his career choice he became obsessed with the idea of early retirement or financial independence which would let him then switch back to his dream job of being a writer with out needing the money from it. He figures he could do all of this by his 40th birthday or so.
While this seem sort of practical way to do things to me it doesn’t acknowledge that until very recently I always doubted that I could be a writer. Self doubt in my ability to write has always haunted me and despite any success to the contrary I always thought writing for a career was more fantasy than reality for me. That is why perhaps I would write posts here, but often ignore my writing other projects.
So while I like the idea of the career advice of follow your passion I tend to be a bit wary of it since I find people easily confuse excitement for passion. In fact I just recently read something that I thought nailed the difference between the two. People that found their passion in their work life don’t talk about how exciting, challenging or stimulating the work is but rather they speak in terms of meaningful, significant and fulfilling their work is.
I find writing fulfilling to me. I’m more complete when I have done some writing, but I also understanding writing a book is a LOT of work. For example, so far this month I’ve written 19,000 words on my novel and I can assure you the majority of it wasn’t exciting. In fact, long stretches of it are making me sit down at my desk and slog through a scene that I need in the book but I’m not even that interested in writing at that moment in time.
I find there are a lot of ‘want to be’ writers in the world. They love the idea of writing as a career in their fantasies, but often don’t actually finish a manuscript. They end up burning through their excitement in the first five chapters and then facing the long painful climb to finish the book they give up. I get that since I’ve done it numerous times myself.
Yet when I speak to actual writers who do this for a career they often comment on working six days a week, the horrors of having an editor or agent rip your beloved book to pieces, and the the tough work keeping up social media and other means of promoting their work. Being an actual writers means you get fulfillment from your work even when the entire process can be painful and you know won’t get easier as you go along.
So yes, go for passion in your career if you want, but please do keep in mind the difference between passion and excitement. To be successful in just about anything requires doing work that isn’t always exciting.
What are your thought on doing your passion for career advice? Pointless, a dream, possible or just difficult to do?