I think we can all agree that writing is an art form. It’s an expression of oneself, after all. And it requires a huge dose of raw talent—talent that must be refined and polished and crafted over years of study and dedication.
It’s no different than dance or ceramics or music or any of the other arts. And sure, sometimes it comes in the form of a nonfiction how-to manuscript. Sometimes it comes in the form of a news article. Sometimes it comes in the form of a really splendidly written Tweet. But it’s still art even if it’s not hanging in a gallery or moving people to tears.
And yet have you ever noticed how, unlike other artists, most writers put pressure on their art?
They expect it to be profitable.
They expect it to advance them.
They expect it to become that side business that eventually becomes a full time business.
And if they don’t see any of these things happen, they wonder why they’re writing at all.
Why do we do this? Why do many writers (especially newer ones) look at their art like they would investments or a retirement plan? Why do we expect so much out of it?
You don’t see this with most dancers. Most dancers are happy to dance and for them that happiness is enough. They don’t have this need to justify their art by pointing toward how much money it’s made them or how often they’ve been part of a professional production. They just like to dance. And dancing is enough.
You also don’t see this mentality with many potters, either. Sure, they might have Etsy shops and they set up tables at farmer’s markets, but they don’t look at their yearly earnings and question whether or not thy should be doing what they’re doing. They just do it because they love it.
So why are writers different? Why do we need to have the bylines and the royalty statements and the publishing contracts to justify our art? Isn’t the fact that we love doing it enough?
I want to hear your thoughts on this topic … and I know you might be thinking “mortgages don’t pay themselves!” but we’re not talking about whether or not you should turn your writing into a business. Every artist needs to be smart about how they share their art with the world.
Instead, we’re talking about how writers put pressure on themselves to be profitable, successful, published. It’s something that I’ve rarely seen in other art forms, so I’m curious to know your thoughts.
Is there too much pressure on authors to be successful? If so, what can be done about it? And yes, I’ve blogged about this before but I think it’s worth discussing again.