So, since I have the great fortune of having to create a full life under some challenging conditions within this program (i.e., unable to work to earn more money even within disability’s allowance), I would like to pass along a few tips about money and creativity:
Financial security doesn’t always come in the form of cash.
It took awhile for me to recognize this in my life. I had a black and white philosophy about the miracles in this program. I thought that meant I would EARN increasing amounts of money.
But what the Big Book promises is, “Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.” (Page 84) It doesn’t state that I will make a big pile of money. Further, it says that my fear of not having enough will leave.
In DA, the promise is, “4. We will begin to live a prosperous life, unencumbered by fear, worry, resentment, or debt.” Again, it doesn’t say HOW this will manifest or what prosperity will look like in my life.
So, in my case, here is what my DA prosperity has looked like for the past two years out of three and a half in DA H.O.W. recovery:
- Developing a better relationship with my husband because of this program, which caused me to feel more secure in my living situation. My husband and I had a very shaky relationship which felt tenuous at best. For today, though, I have a comfortable home to live in and my spiritual changes have helped both of us strengthen our commitment as we approach ten years of marriage.
- Receiving Social Security Disability when I was sure I wouldn’t. In fact, I’m really blessed because for today, I get an additional disability payment from the company for whom I worked. While that could end at any time, it is a great gift.
- Acceptance that I have enough. Though I would like more, the truth is that I would like more even if I had a million dollars a day to spend. Because of my PRG and my willingness to live by my spending plan, I do have enough for today. However, I do have to often delay gratification, but isn’t that a great skill for a compulsive spender to develop?
- Recognizing that I would rather feel creatively fulfilled than have more money. This is my truth. I feel so prosperous when I am creative.
The joy of creating far surpasses any short-term glee I may feel when I earn money. Yes, it would seem to be great to earn money solely from creativity, but I’m not sure that the pressure that would be inextricably tied with doing so would be worth the price for me.
Maybe We Need to Accept That Our Passion is Not How We Earn Our Living.
This was said to me by A DA friend of mine, who has experienced profound material benefits from DA H.O.W. (including going from freelance work barely making ends meet to making well over $100,000 in a fulfilling job that fell into his lap within the space of two years of working the program).
I kept trying to make creativity, passion, and earning one and the same, to no avail until my disability forced me to stop doing so. That is not to say one should work in a job one despises that sucks the life out of you. But the reality of accepting that FOR TODAY you may not be able to earn a living doing your creative passion shouldn’t block you from doing what you love when you can. Because we all still need that creative prosperity to feed our souls, just as our jobs feed our bodies.
Connecting Passion with Money or Acclaim May Reduce the Passion
I am doing a lot of reading about writers and their first works. Inevitably, as with J.K. Rowling, most couldn’t think about what the world would think of their writing or even if it would get published as this would block them. Instead, they were driven by the passion and pleasure of the work.
Even when I was first drawing, I was so blocked and tight, so self-judgmental, that I got nowhere but into more pain. Once I told myself that I am NOT doing this for ANY public reason so who cares if anyone but me likes it … and then came to REALLY BELIEVE IT, everything yielded.
Time Pressure is the Enemy of Creativity
Now, I know some of us think we work best with a deadline. But for me, the panic over time passing can keep me blocked and stuck, and ironically, increase my procrastination because of it. Yes, I have written to meet many deadlines in my career and without them, maybe I would never have finished the work! But I’m not only talking about external pressure when you are working to meet someone else’s schedule.
I’m talking about the kind of deadline we put on ourselves when we feel like time is running out. For instance, I’m 57 (but I felt it just as acutely when I was 47 or 37 or even 27). It’s the kind of fear that rises up when I feel that there isn’t enough time to write the book because time is passing and I could die, so why bother to start it. The passion gets lost in the future fear.
But do you know what really changed my mind? Reading about authors and directors and artists. It took 13 years for Stephen King to write The Stand. Fifteen years for Ayn Rand to write Atlas Shrugged. It took 15 years for James Cameron to complete Avatar. And 12 years for Steven Spielberg to complete his movie about Abraham Lincoln.
Time will pass, and yes, we will die some day, whether we engage in our art or not. Even Steve Jobs, I’m sure, was in mid-project when he finally shed his mortal coat. Michael Jackson was about to launch his biggest tour ever.
So now, when I feel led to do an artistic project of any length, I may think about a timeline, but I try to focus on the journey rather than the destination. Good creative work takes time. That’s just the truth of it.
Orson Scott Card, in his book, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, said, “You’ll probably have to wait months or years before writing good versions of story ideas you come up with now.” He goes on to say that you can write a bunch of garbage fast, and you can write good work using ideas that have been churning in you for years. But today’s idea can’t be hatched today.
I hope you do not have a day job that makes you want to shrivel up in a corner. But whether you do or don’t, please heed the creative voice inside of you. Everyone has some creative passion, whether for reading, writing, drawing, collecting, or just doodling (that is how I started). Better to let those creative forces well up, be heard, and attended to, then live your life without living your passion. So even if you have a job you hate, at least, you will have listened to the call of your soul and fed it in ways that money cannot buy.
Postscript (added 10/25/12): Here is a great article from Hugh MacLeod’s website on this very subject