Becoming Self Sufficient

When all else fails, trust yourself. (Excerpt from Have Fun, Get Paid: How to Make a Living With Your Creativity)

For those who immerse themselves in the creative arts with hopes of doing it for a living, life can be full of twists and turns. If you happened to notice that signpost up ahead, you also know that the real world can often be surreal. It’s certainly not always fair. Even so, we dream, we create, and we look for ways to keep the wolves at bay without losing sight of the muse. It is not a journey for the faint of heart.

Then, there’s that moment in the spotlight. After hours on the road, bad diners, worse motels, and hangovers the size of Texas, you stumble onto the stage, blink twice and suddenly come alive. Everything else falls away as you remember why you chose this path. Whether your stage is real or figurative, it makes the journey worthwhile.

Eventually, however, you step out of the limelight and back into your everyday life, already in progress. There’s food to buy, bills to pay, and the knowledge that even if you work on the road, you’re eventually going to want a roof over your head when you get home. All of this requires money.

In a perfect world, you would present your work, the people who enjoy such things would show up, and adequate funds would magically appear in your checking account. It doesn’t take an MBA to see the holes in this scenario. There are many levers to pull between the creation of your art and a check clearing the bank. That means countless opportunities for things to go wrong, leaving nothing but insufficient funds and unpopular excuses when the rent comes due.

One of the most fundamental issues you will face throughout your career revolves around who pulls those levers. Although it’s rarely possible to do every single thing yourself, you can to a very large degree become self-sufficient if you’re willing to face some hard truths and put forth the effort. The reward is a career path that you can count on rather than trusting your fate to the winds. And trust me, in this line of work you’re going to meet a lot of blowhards.

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