A weird thing happens to otherwise normal people when we attempt to level with each other about work.
People seem to act like if they were to start doing the work they truly loved, other people will think they are colossally selfish / stupid / immature and begin throwing themselves out of seven story buildings or lighting themselves on fire in protest.
We act like if we want to be artists we’ll need to prove we’re “allowed” by only doing what we long to do as a “nice hobby” or in a damp cellar by dank (dank?) candlelight where no one has to see us in all our crazy.
We seem to think that if we were to work on something that we totally dig, this may simultaneously cause our families to implode, our lovers to walk out, our children to disown us, our very physical security to be threatened by some invisible bully.
We think we don’t deserve it. We think they can’t handle it. We think it has to be a big fucking deal and we’ll need to ceremonially trade in everything we’ve earned in our entire lives up to this point in exchange for the right to pursue our creative passions.
But you know what actually happens to us and to other people when we finally dare to start working on our dream?
A whole bunch of not much, babe.
A whole lot of silence. A whole lot of quiet and stillness.
Incredibly, doing work we love – and calling it the work we love – does not, in actual fact, upend the entire universe.
Since I started writing in earnest, what Steven Pressfield would call “going pro” with it, not one goddamn person has thrown themselves under a Septa bus to try to stop me.
Nor has anybody walked naked across hot coals to show his or her undying adoration for what I’m doing here, dude.
And yet, as tough as it is to accept the un-dramatic level of response, here I sit, every day, every day, every day, working, working, working diligently at this my self-selected, self-designed, self-appointed work in the world.
“Would we miss your work if you stopped making it?
What do you stand for?
What contribution are you making?”
Seth Godin from Ten Questions For Work That Matters
I make not a penny by doing it and I have no title and no one is breathing down my neck, checking boxes or deciding whether or not I deserve a promotion, yet I pour everything I have into this work.
Why? Why does my creative appetite continue to grow despite zero angry protests or roaring maniacal rounds of applause?
Because I know a thing that most people aren’t willing to trust and I trust it anyway and that is this:
Energy is what will change the world.
ENERGY, you guys.
Not money. Not buildings. Not degrees or reviews or promotions or the punky new Instagram algorithms that roam without eyes through our feeds as we speak. (Okay: maybe the algorithms. Maybe a little bit.)
The energy of intention to bring forth the best of who we are for the good of all. With focus, trust and commitment to something bigger, more interesting, and more inspired than ourselves.
Through the silence, through the non-event, through the deafening quiet.
So if you are collecting paycheck in return for (barely) putting up with a day job that is slowly sucking the life energy from the marrow of your soul, whatever you are (barely) doing to collect said paycheck, I promise you, is not the Work you were designed and placed so perfectly here to do.
Maybe you call it “work” and they call it “work” and you blurt it out at cocktail parties when someone asks the grossly inevitable question, “So what do you do?” (just once I’d like to respond to this inane question by slowly sucking down this person’s Tanqueray-soaked martini olives and inserting the toothpick directly into my right eye) but it’s all bullshit and you know it and on some level they know it and on just about every level of this shallow not-a-real-conversation everyone knows it.
We know the soul sucking job isn’t what you stand for or what you’re about or what makes you such a devastatingly fascinating creature.
If it’s killing you inside, it’s not your Work.
It’s just a job.
It’s just a way to get money so you don’t end up where you’re terrified you’ll end up if you attempt to become the artist beast you long to become: in a roach infested crackhouse over an air shaft on the other side of the other side of a town nobody wants to talk about at cocktail parties (which is maybe why we ask inane questions to begin with: we avoid asking questions to which we are terrified of hearing the real answer because then we might have to get all compassionate and honest and stuff and that’s tough to do over the first martini with toothpicks sticking out of our eyes).
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.
Charles Bukowski from so you want to be a writer?
So here’s what: I have decided to take back the word WORK. (writers, man; writers and their tricked out words, right.)
I’m taking the word WORK back from whomever decided it was something so monumentally grotesque that it had the power to turn the word “Monday” into an obscenity and the word “Friday” into some sort of wild-eyed-frenetic-prison-release-party.
I’m taking the word Work back because words are energy.
Energy is what will change the world.
Change your words = Change your energy = Change the world.
You are here to do Work that matters to your soul. I am here to remind you that what you believe in doing is absolutely worth your time, energy and commitment.
To that end, let’s get into the three ways to shift your energy around what you believe is your true Work.
The Work that matters.
Your art Work. Your soul Work. Your life’s Work. The Work, my love, that you were put here to do.
These three changes will immediately shift your creative energy and elevate what you do and how you do it to a level worthy of your actual splendor.
3 Ways to Start the Work You REALLY Want to Do
#1 Change the way you THINK about the creative work that you do.
Whatever lights you up and gets your creativity flowing: this is your Work, this is what you do.
Forget the cocktail party answer. You don’t owe anyone any answers. But you do owe it to yourself to decide you will only think in ways that honor you as an artist and a stealth creative beast. We own the word WORK now, remember? (I stole it back for us a few lines ago, chief. We’ve got them now.)
Don’t fall for the mindfuckery of social etiquette, judgment, positioning. Honor yourself and the true work you love to do. Remind yourself that what you love to do is your true work and that you are worthy of doing it.
#2 Change the way you SPEAK about the creative work you do.
Please don’t just rattle on about what you do to earn money. When people talk about what they do to earn money they always seem to end up talking about how it’s draining them / killing them / driving them to drink / not eat / not sleep / not make their kid’s birthday party.
Tell me about what makes you tick, breathe, bleed?
Tell me about that. For the love, please tell me about that or I swear to god I’m all over that toothpick.
“Speak it. Let it know you’re there. Hell, let you know you’re there – because this statement of intent is just as much an announcement to yourself as it is an announcement to the universe or anybody else. Hearing this announcement, your soul will mobilize accordingly. It will mobilize ecstatically, in fact, because this is what your soul was born for. (Trust me, your soul has been waiting for you to wake up to your own existence for years.)”
Liz Gilbert from Big Magic
#3 Change the way you ACT toward the creative work you do. (a.k.a. Go Pro)
Energy is what will change the world.
It’s time to give your craft some serious attention which means time which means effort which means energy. Find something worth doing that feels like magic and gives like a gift.
What could you honestly see yourself getting wild about?
Take it seriously. Invest in it with time, with energy, with research, with indulgence.
If you burn to commit to your art and follow it all the way it can go, and if you believe that you have a bigger, deeper, more important calling than just some day job, be honest with yourself.
Stop worrying about what will happen if you try.
Change the way you think about, speak about and act toward what you love to do.
This is YOUR life, babe.
P.S. If you are beginning a fresh creative thing, I’m there for you all the way, gorgeous. That shit’s hot. Check out my Beginner’s Luck Series for Artists here. Totally FREE. Totally me talking you all the way through the best time in a budding creative’s life. You wanna?
P.P.S. Thank you, as always, for sharing my work with your family and friends. It means everything to me to know that the work I have chosen to do with all my heart is making a positive impact on a broken world. Bless you, stay fierce, love you so. Allison Marie xx