How to Survive As a Full-Time Writer?
“You’re making a mistake,” the professors warned us from the podium.
The induction program in the first week of my Journalism school was soaked in a sad message. That the writing profession doesn’t pay well. Neither does journalism.
The time you spend working in a week and what you earn add up to a terrible deal.
You might as well work for a coffee shop.
Nobody makes a good living as a writer.
Remember Vincent Van Gogh? Even he was a starving artist, struggling to make the ends meet.
History books have repeatedly narrated the stories of poor, old, complaining artists. We have heard them.
Although it is prevalent in society but is the narrative on starved artists still valid?
“No,” Jeff Goins warns us in his latest book, Real Artist Don’t Starve.
Of course, he picks a biggie as an example, the artist behind ‘The Creation of Adam,’ Michelangelo.
The year is 1995. The story goes around a professor who is going to make an unusual discovery; five-hundred-year-old bank records of Michelangelo. What are the odds, huh?
It’s astonishing what he finds in the records.
A few years later the professor reveals to Goins that the old narrative from history class, how Michelangelo struggled like Vincent Van Gogh — is a hoax.
Michelangelo wasn’t just rich. He was a rainmaker. When the records were tallied, he came out as the richest artist of Renaissance, with a net worth close to $47 million in today’s time.
The romanticized poverty around artists, that they are barely getting by, that they are persistently struggling and untimely ending their penniless life, was just a model we picked for the starving artists, for a creative life.
Goins says the solution is to replace the idea of Starving Artist with the term Thriving Artist. With a new set of rules, in which you don’t die with the best of your work. Instead, you put them out and thrive.
Practice in Public
Artists tend to see art as a sacred entity.
That’s what initiates the process of idolizing art-making. As a consequence, we don’t consider our art something we can sell.
The way to break out from that outdated tradition is by consistently sharing your work. Putting things out there. In short, practice in public.
If you publish one article every five months on your blog, of course, you’d struggle as a writer. You’d never get to the point where you get the crucial component of the high performance: feedback.
First, get comfortable with sharing on a platform of your choice. So people can find out about you, and then put the rest of the time to doing your thing.
Don’t Work for Free
Most artists don’t mind giving in to freelance work on the side. That’s where Goin says they make one of the most common mistakes: working for free.
Unless the opportunity is extremely good, Goin suggests never work for free.
2021 is a great time to be an artist.
There are endless opportunities to monetize your talents and make a living as an artist.
Find a way to do that. If you’re a writer, don’t define the metric of being a success by how many books you sell. Instead, acknowledge the power of the Internet. Use the real-time data to find out what you need to do next to succeed as a writer.
It’s no surprise that there are millions of Patrons funded artists in this world, who continue to do what they want to do in life, creating art, while people sponsor them.
They aren’t aliens. They are just like us.
The Starved Artist narrative is a hoax. The solution is to practice in public. Consistently putting out work.
Never work for free unless the opportunity is extremely beneficial.
Find a way to monetize your art.
After my graduation in 2016, I entered the real world thinking I would need to live a life of a starving artist to be able to do what I love.
I’ve since discovered that it has never been easier to make a living as an artist, the complete opposite of what the induction of my journalism school suggested.
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