Do What You Love; the Money Will Follow (Maybe)

I read a little interview with musician Jack White in Entertainment Weekly recently that caught my eye. White was asked about his priorities since announcing the retirement of his first band, the White Stripes, to which he replied: “[My bands] Dead Weather and the Raconteurs are alive and well. At Third Man, we’re on our 95th record that we’ve produced in two years. You don’t have a job where you work 9 to 5 at a factory because you’re an artist? Well, okay then, you better make some art.”


It never fails to surprise me that some folks think the creative life is an easy one. Um … not if you want to buy a house. Or, you know, groceries. (Mike Hyatt, chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, names four myths he calls the romantic view of creativity: “The creative life is easy and effortless. People will beat a path to your door. People will love you for your art. You might just get rich—or at least able to make a living.” You can read his thoughts about the creative life here and here.)

So let’s be clear. Making a living as a creative takes discipline, determination, and persistence, day in and day out. You have to listen to naysayers and critics and have the courage to walk your own path in spite of them. You have to say, with as much good cheer as you can muster, “Okay! No prob!” when a client asks for a rewrite of some copy you thought was pretty darn good. It means going to the creative well over and over and, on occasion, finding it dry. And then what?

There are lots of theories about inspiration and how to get some of it. Brainstorm. Research. Music (think Bach). Sleep. Indulge your curiosity. Read. Journal. Let your mind wander (and then take notes). Ask “what if—?” Walk away for awhile. Visit another artist (in the studio, in the museum …). As you know, I like Julia Cameron for inspiration.

I’m all about finding work that makes you happy. You’re gonna have to get out of bed and “go to work” (in all its myriad forms) for a long, long time, so it needs to be something you can enjoy. Some folks like teaching. Some like making art. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s going to be easy simply because you enjoy it—or even because you’re good at it. You’re going to have to make some art (whatever that looks like for you) every day.

(I wrote this post for, where it originally appeared.)


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  1. Internet Quote says:

    “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” — Mary Heaton Vorse

  2. The creativity could be disadvantage sometimes (Most of times for few). If we are earning from job which contradicts from our creativity then it will be hell of job to focus on the given job and same time ignore our creative voice. It is the problem with people in India (My country). People here are too focus on earning predictable or fixed income rather than take the leap of faith or consider inner voice. I have little idea how we can change this generations of mentality but someone who can show this by example can be great help.. Indians wake UP!!

    • Jamie says:

      I saw that here in the 90s, when it felt like every kid in college was getting a business degree so he could get rich, rich, RICH!