Myrmidons! My brothers of the sword! I would rather fight beside you than any army of thousands! Let no man forget how menacing we are, we are lions! Do you know what's waiting beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it! It's yours! [Troy]
Creators have a dilemma.
We want the freedom to create whatever, whenever we want...
But the market will only compensate us for what IT wants.
This leaves your average creator (whether entrepreneur, writer, or artist) in a particularly uncomfortable position, with only two real options.
Option 1: Create what you want, ignore the market…
Many creators do just that. They build for themselves and completely ignore the rest of the world.
There’s only one problem with this: it rarely pays off.
Yes, there are outliers. But that’s exactly the point: they’re outliers.
If the market doesn’t like what you create, you bear the burden.
‘Do what you love’ sounds fun and sexy, until you realize you’ve been living on your mom’s couch for 3 years.
Option 2: Create for the market, ignore what you want…
Many other creators (probably the vast majority) choose this route.
They ignore their curiosities, inspirations, and passions, and build widgets instead.
There’s only one problem with this: it comes at a cost.
How long can we supply the demand for something we don’t care about? How long can we commit to creating something personally valueless? How long until the money’s not worth being a robot in the robot factory?
A False Dichotomy
Of course, this is a false dichotomy.
It doesn’t take a human geographer to realize there are other options besides ‘starving artist’ and ‘miserable cog’ when it comes to the life we choose for ourselves.
Just look at how many starving cogs and miserable artists there are in the world…
I kid (sort of…).
So why do we do it?
We create this dichotomy, first and foremost, because it’s easier to process the world this way. The brain can only process so many things at one time, so simplifying things makes the brain happy (we avoid sensory overload).
Second – and much more insidiously – we create this dichotomy to create an out.
The Enemy wants to keep us stagnate. An ‘either / or’ dichotomy with seemingly brutal consequences is the perfect weapon to make this happen.
If the world is a zero sum game, if it’s either win or lose, if it’s either me or him…well, better reason to just stay put, keep our heads down, and blend into the rest of the tribe…
Now that we have a good, rational reason to sit still, we are off the hook for not taking action. We have our out.
The Real Creator's Dilemma
But of course this out isn’t really an out.
It’s submitting for comfort and safety (or so we think…).
The real dilemma isn’t: do I do what I love, or do I do what makes me money?
This dichotomy doesn’t exist – it never did.
The real dilemma is: do we acquiesce to a life and lifestyle undesired because it’s comfortable and safe?
Or do we take the uncomfortable, uncertain, and difficult path…the one we know won’t be easy, clear, or guranteed…the one fraught with hardship, setbacks and failure…
Because we know it will be worth it?
Take it. It’s yours.
You can do important work and make money from it.
It’s possible, I promise you this.
I meet new people doing it every day.
More importantly, they’re doing it their way: they’re picking the route, choosing their packing list, and drawing the map as they go along. No, it’s not easy - but it was never supposed to be.
The same reality can be yours.
It’s waiting for you, just beyond that beach…
The question is: will you take it?