003: What the phrase “Do what you love” is NOT saying

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Thinking

003_DoWhatYouLove

In this episode of The Picturebooking Podcast I celebrate my first father’s day by giving out some fatherly advice and explaining what the phrase “Do what you love” is NOT saying.

Show Notes

Nick’s Script:

Hi all, I hope everyone had a good father’s day weekend. I know I did. Today’s episode art is a picture of my father’s day present from Lilah! She worked really hard at it so if you are listening on iTunes you’ll have to stop by the site picturebooking.com/3 to check it out.

Now since I’m a father … I suppose I can give out some fatherly advice.

Do what you love.

I’m sure you have heard this advice many times. I imagine that I’ll give this advice to my daughter at some point.

People gave it to me … but I’m not sure I fully understood it. And it has taken me along time to understand what this advice is not saying.

It is not monetize what you love. It is not do what you love and get paid for it.

It is simply and brilliantly Do what you love, period.

For my whole adult life I misunderstood this advice. I thought the goal … the key … was to monetize what you love.

Of course it would be sweet to get paid for doing something you love but money or fame or power shouldn’t be the reason you do what makes you happy.


 

Ten years ago I discovered the joy of creating picture books.

I remember how excited I was. How much energy and enthusiasm I had for the medium. I had found it! I was going to do what I loved.

But that’s not what I did. I like so many of us, I took this passion and tried to monetize it. I went straight from wanting to create picture books to wanting to be a professionally published author-illustrator.

Looking back, it was silly.

Imagine a person … lets call him Steve.

Steve goes to a major league baseball game, and falls in love with the sport. He decides to become a professional baseball player.

How many times do you think Steve would have to hit a baseball before he could do get paid for it?

Millions? Right?

Well if Steve followed my original plan to become a picture book author-illustrator he would have taken a couple practice swings and then called up the Yankee’s for a try out.

Literally that’s what I did. I would write a story. Thumbnail it out. Design the characters. Rough out a dummy book. Finish one or two illustration and … stop.

I would stop in the middle of creating the story.

I would stop to show my half finished stories to publishers.

Then I would wait. I’d wait for the industry to judged my practice swings, while my excitement for the story died.

Do you know how many picture book stories I completed in the first ten years of pursuing this medium?

One.

One story. One book. Ten years.

Now I know industry standards would tell me that that’s ok. I did it right. And it takes time to make these stories.

But I don’t think I should let myself off that easily.

It’s a sign of an amateur to start a project and not follow through with it.

And stopping a project at the moment you’re the most excited about it doesn’t make sense either.

Publishers will tell you not to finish the story because they’ll change it and you’ll have to re-due your work. They don’t want you tied to the story and unwilling to make it better.

But that’s assuming you’re a professional picture book author-illustrator. That’s assuming you have the experience needed to tell great stories.

But if you have only created a handful of picture books, you probably have a lot to learn. And the only way to get better is to finish the project all the way through.

Sure you’ll probably re-due some if not all of it before a big publisher will pick it up, but you will learn so much more about the art of storytelling than if you never follow through.

Stopping in the middle … waiting to get picked … that is a sign that you are trying to monetize what you love.

Be careful … because if you tie money to close to your love, you suck all the joy out of it. And soon you’ll be looking for some other outlet for fun and happiness.

If you have to work at a full time job, take the advice of Bobby Chiu, and do something completely different than your passion. Work in a toll both to make money and save your creativity for your passion.

Then following through and complete your projects … because that is a sign that you are doing what you love.

And let somebody else worry about the rest.

 


Thank you for reading my show notes.

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