Big Magic Creativity Beyond Fear when you’re a professional with responsibilities

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“a professional with responsibilities”

So I just reviewed Elizabeth “Eat Love Pray” Gilbert’s Big Magic for Black Gate.

It’s a good entertaining book, and it has a wise message: Give yourself permission to enjoy your creativity for its own sake; don’t burden it with expectations, including the expectation that you will live off it – easy come, easy go.

And she’s right. Creativity is about play, which is hard to do when you are Being Serious.

But what if you have serious responsibilities and you do do it professionally?

I have kids and a mortgage. Other writers just have a partner, and the expectation of partnership is that the resources sometimes flow one way, sometimes the other.

Should we really have gone pro?

Possibly not! I had no choice since my day job then my profession went away. Others made a leap of faith based more on faith than financial calculation. But, just as entrepeneurs cannot resist starting new businesses, doctors have the vocation to doctor, and craft brewers want to just brew, most published writers really want to just write.

So we do go pro if we can, and that means burdening our creativity — and please, I’m using this term as a lable for our capacity to create, rather than a claim to special snowflake status — with the expectaton of earning money.

How do you play for money?

I’m not a fan of the macho concept of discipline, the idea that you should power through writer’s block etc by sheer force of will. I’d rather just know how to write, and do it. However, for me, there is a very real need for mental discipline in compartmentalising the money from the work.

When I sit down to write, I put on music, make myself comfortable and — by an act of self seduction more than will power — forget my adult responsibilities. There’s a judo to it if you do it right; writing — like gaming and reading — is an act of escapism, so as long as you treat it that way, the more burdened you are, the easier it is to escape

To do that, you have to give yourself permission to do something as frivolous as writing in the midst of all that adulting, and giving yourself permission is one of the main themes of Gilbert’s book…

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Writer. Swordsman.
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