Passion, Not Obsession.

My two 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 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 book store.

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 were 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.


  1. I understand this completely, Ty.

    I have so much going on in my life these days, more than at any other time, and making time to write–and then to post–has been hard to make.

    Actually have been doing the personal writing, just not the posting, which is so essential these days when one is, in fact, a freelance writer.

    Gotta create content.

    Am on assignment now, so back to it and at it.

    BTW, love your subtitle to XYZ.


  2. Thanks for the comment, Jay.

    And yes, writing is writing. Sometimes you just do it for yourself. But even when you are not, there should always be other facets of life that ebb and flow through your consciousness during the day. Yes some writers were the stereotypical “lost in their work” all day types, but that doesn't mean they were healthy people.

  3. Anonymous

    A great post; you hit on some very true points. It's easy for us creative types to become engrossed in our work to a point of obsession. Workaholic tendencies are too often lauded in our culture. It's so important, though, to remember that a balanced life is a life worth living.

  4. So I'm jealous and looking to (and I believe almost there) get where you are. Some of us are naturally extremists, right? But that doesn't mean we will be successful because 'obsession' is not healthy. To your point and real life example; I love building businesses and driving revenue. While some may say that's not an 'art' like writing or acting, I would argue that it's not a “fine” art, but still an art. I spent the last 7 years working about 80 hrs / week and finally burnt out! I gained a lot of weight, smoke too much, and ultimately ended up being resentful of anyone in the office who did not work as I did…which is an awful thing when you're typically an inspiring, motivating manager…emotions out of control; I burnt out. SO, for the last 90 days I've done nothing but learn “balance”. I chose to consult, which I knew would require more discipline than I've ever had before. People throwing me money to do things and I would have to say “NO” because I only wanted to 'work' 30 hours / week or less. I've found out so much more about ME, it's phenomenal. I spend more time not only with my husband, but thinking about how lucky I am to have him. I work out everyday. I take the time to eat healthy. I don't smoke as much (almost quit!). In general, I'm a much happier, nicer, less impuslive and emotional person.

    I believe you're having a varied skillset and being so self aware will only help you, in more ways than 1. First, with writing, it looks like you would able to write about numerous mediums. You can copyright, develop content, write a book, etc. but can also probably develop radio and film scripts if needed; my guess would be great movie critiques as well. Second, it sounds like you “know what you know” and you “know what you don't know”. Key to being successful.

    I congratulate you on knowing how to harness / guide your passion into the 'real world' and look forward to the time I can be more like you.

  5. Thanks to Anonymous and Jamie for recent comments. You both make excellent points.

    Anonymous: Yes, creative types are certainly not immune to a sort of workaholic tendency. We don't call it that because in a lot of cases it's not what they call “real work”. But creative types need that break as well to be and do other things.

    Jamie: Such a well thought out and sincere comment, thank you. Certainly what you were doing could be considered art of a sort, and in fact the whole nature of my post need not apply only to the fine arts that I was discussing. Good for you for opting to take that step back and refocus on knowing yourself and taking care of you.

    As for my varied skill set, I thank you for the compliment and certainly hope you are right about it being able to bring me as much success as I am planning.

  6. Ty,
    I'm not a detail person, so I can't remember who said this, but the gist was this: you can't spend all your time writing, or you'll have nothing to write about. Living is what prepares you for good writing. No need to feel guilty for doing either. 🙂

  7. An excellent point, Jen, and one with which I wholeheartedly agree!

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