‘Starving’ versus ‘Striving’ Artist Debate

IMG_3843My recent post ‘Rise and Shine Women. It’s Time…’ caused some unexpected controversy. I posted it in one of the Facebook groups where I share my writing from time to time to inspire other writers in my genre.

The essence of the debate boiled down to this: We should focus on writing and not think of money. No harsh words were exchanged, and people appeared friendly and reasonable in expressing their views.

Except, energetically, it was as if I came up against a wall. I felt anxious as if I’ve done something wrong by speaking up about money. Then even deeper fear resurfaced: people will reject me; they’ll think I am materialistic and in it to make money. As I allowed fear to come, anger flared up. And what’s wrong with wanting to make money? Come on, people! Please tell me you NEVER thought of making it big?! Is it just me? I was getting defensive, trying to justify why it’s a good idea to want what we want. Finally, self-doubt kicked in: Am I writing because of money?

So, I sat with this discomfort. What bothered me most was that I was bothered by what other people thought or said. Why? What in me is reacting to this exchange? What are they showing me? I was trying to work out without much success.

Then I remembered a technique I use from time to time to clear limiting beliefs.

‘I deserve to be paid for my writing.’ I said out loud as I pushed my daughter’s buggy in the local park. On the scale of 1 to 10 (1 – not agreeing with this statement and 10 – fully agreeing), I was at number 2.

Oh, I see now why people’s responses touched a raw nerve in me. I did a bit of inner clearing on the go and felt a lot calmer.

Reflecting on this exchange, I learnt a few lessons:

  • Of course writing comes first. Before we get paid we need to produce something worth paying for. But if we hold deep-seated beliefs, like ‘You cannot make living from writing’, sooner or later it becomes self-fulfilling. Even if we manage to publish our work, it could translate into poor sales and a lack of recognition. Then we start blaming the industry and passing on the belief that as artists we are doomed to starve.
  • Discomfort around discussing money may arise if we hold some limiting beliefs about it. No wonder people would rather talk about sex, religion, or politics than mention money. Yet, at it’s best, money is simply energy and we exchange it for all sorts of things, including writing workshops, competitions, editors, etc. It’s the meaning we ascribe to money that can turn it into a thorny issue.
  • Last but not least, it doesn’t have to be either writing or money. It can be both. Putting a book out in the world to change people’s lives without getting an adequate financial reward may cause self-doubt and resentment, however worthy the message may be. Let’s value ourselves, our time, effort, and money we invest in our creative endeavours. It’s time to rise above our limiting beliefs and shine.

7 thoughts on “‘Starving’ versus ‘Striving’ Artist Debate

  1. As I was reading this I was thinking about money having energy and I saw you made the point. Money is for many people a difficult topic to discuss … actually, as difficult as sex, intimacy .. thanks Gulara … glad you cleared yourself of others’ ‘views’ ..

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    • Thank you for your kind comment, Susan. Yes, money seems to be such a taboo to talk about… There are so many layers to this topic as well. I might keep digging at it until I strike gold 🙂 Deep gratitude for all your support!

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  2. In Australia, we continue to have debates about valuing and expecting to be paid for our creative expression. The reality is that not many do. So we continue to value ourselves and pushing for a world that sees us (women) as important creatives with a will to change the staus quo.

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    • Beautifully put, Rashida. I am acutely aware that this is how industry is and by talking about it openly we can start shifting this whole consciousness and the status quo.

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  3. I think you make some very valid points here. I don’t expect to make much, I do expect to make something, I would love to make a bundle as much because it mean some people who I don’t know want to buy what I wrote. I really do feel you shod be free to want to make it big as much as you should feel fine if all you ever want to do it write. Our motivations are neither single cell nor linear and love of writing and making money are neither mutually exclusive nor a sufficient condition for either to exist.

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    • It’s so true, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I’ve been reflecting on this a lot, particularly on the notion of ‘making it big’. One person’s ‘making it big’ may look like selling millions of copies, some person’s version maybe just the very act of putting his or her work into the world. I guess the true measurement of what ‘making it big’ means to us could come only from within, because the external measurements of success can be confusing and misleading. Many thanks again for reading and commenting!

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