Two of my biggest talents and passions are theatre and writing. I have spent years looking for ways to make use of both in my career.
So far I have met with only minimal success in doing so. And do you know why? Well, there are plenty of career know-it-alls who think they know why. For years I've read and heard this advice in regards to a career as a writer. (Though you hear the exact same words regarding a career in theatre.)
"If you can even for a moment imagine yourself doing anything else other than writing for the rest of your life, don't write. Do the something else. Writing is not for you."
Pursuant to this, those that are trying to make it their career are often heard to say things like;
"I just have to write. I eat sleep, drink, breath and piss writing, day in and day out. If I am awake and not in the shower, I am writing, and I would write in there too if I could."
Yeah...and if anyone behaved this way pursuant to wine consumption, what would we call them?
The fact of the matter is, I am both an actor and a writer. I am a freelance writer that is just starting to hit a bit of a stride, and I am an actor that performs in amateur productions that don't usually pay. My goal is to make a total living one day utilizing one or both passions.
Yet, sin of all sins, I can visualize myself doing other things.
Yes. I can see myself getting back into radio, if there were any openings. I know I would enjoy some sort of musical career if it came along. I could probably spend a few quiet, content years just getting a paycheck from a used bookstore.
And if I had a family to support in an emergency, I would even be able to see myself taking a more menial job, if a kid's life is at stake.
In other words, there are many things for which I have talent and interest that I could see myself doing, and have at some point tried and failed to get into. The fact of the matter is that I have had more chances to use my writing and acting skills than I have my other skills thus far.
However, even though I am both a writer and actor, and I do love being so, I do other things. I walk. I enjoy movies. I limp my way through video games sometimes. Poker. Conversation. Beer. It may shock you to know I have been on dates with women.
What is my point? My point is, despite being a writer, I simply am not obsessed with the idea of writing. I do not do it all the time, every hour of every day. Any given day I do not write at all. I know that must shock some of you writers out there, but somedays I don't feel it. If I worked for a company I would of course put in writing time everyday so as to fulfill my job duties. But as a freelancer for the time being, I'm not always there.
Nor should I be. This notion that writers, actors and other creative types must be constantly working on or at least thinking about their respective craft is for the proverbial birds. We all have talents, and perhaps all of us have callings and destinies. But it is not for any of us to abandon being a well balanced human being.
Dedication to and visualization of a goal or dream is one thing. And a damned important thing at that. But I grow weary of the suggestion that by being able to imagine my life turning out in some other good way I am declaring myself unfit as a writer. I am equally weary of the notion that in order to be considered a true writer I have to feel compelled by some unknown force to write all the time, everywhere.
It's not like eating, folks. Writing can sometimes be hard work. It can in fact be a pain in the ass. It can be like pushing a rock up a mountain. But I am not a writer because I am in love with pushing rocks. I am a writer because I am compelled to see the view from the summit of the mountain. I just push rocks right now because that is what is required to get me there.
So embrace passion, not obsession.