Some time ago, I spoke with a man who played the piano. Extremely well. So well that he had got paid to play it. Which he did, for all his money. He loved playing. It was a great joy to him.
“Having to do what you love for a living is a great way to drain the joy out of it,” he said.
That’s not what you hear from the YouTube and Twitter crowds. “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!”
Trouble is, I know that he has a point. Because writing my first weblog was a lot more fun than writing this one.
My first blog was started a great number of years ago, predating WordPress. Or Internet Explorer. Or Netscape. It was an exercise in trying new things, being ridiculous, and staying completely anonymous. It was great fun. Of course, those were the days before “web logging” was a thing.
My second blog started back in the days of Movable Type, as a way for me to record what was happening to me as I lost the best job I’d ever have (I thought), and the ensuing term of after effects. I wrote constantly, had thousands of readers each month, and was embroiled in several “controversies”. I was known in a niche circle.
It was fun. In a way that this blog never has been.
At some point, I decided to “get serious” about using my writing to get work, and I converted this successful (albeit not monetized) and very personal blog into this business-oriented one.
And took all the fun out of it.
I’m not sure that it is all about monetizing it. There are many people who do that and maintain the joy.
But not me. Nor the pianist.
It’s a problem worth thinking about before you try and take your love into money making. It may not just not make any money: it may take your joy away.
Why does that happen to some people and not others? Because we’re all different, and we are ignoring some key things about how we get energy. Some of us are weirder than others: we don’t get energy in work like others do. It’s what lets you get to answers quickly. It’s what lets you do things that others can’t, and prevents you from doing what they can.
This has to do with your native language of decision making. How you use words to talk about work. If you don’t use words the way normal people do — and let’s be honest, almost none of you who read anything I write do — you will struggle to turn your passion into cash.
Which is strange, because you are the exact type of person for whom “follow your passion” actually makes sense, as long as you hold your endeavour in a certain way.
These are not simple things. You must walk with eyes open along a narrow path. You can’t provide value and not be compensated, for the Peoples of the Book all hold a truth like this in sacred text: “Don’t withhold the wage from the one who did the work: give the worker his wage!” Does this apply less because you are doing the work under your own company? Of course not! Yet you also cannot simply monetize it, because putting money first will drive the joy out. There is something about having the right clients or students or “recipients of your art” that is key. There is not straight answer: it is a hard balancing act, and some have it work out easily, and others struggle.
Image credit: A woman sells souvenirs outside Red Square, Moscow, Russia. June 2008. © 1998 Photo by Adam Jones adamjones.freeservers.com. CCBY-SA 3.0. Via Wikimedia Commons.