Recently, I’ve run across a couple of articles that promote the popular motivational idea of changing the way you think about whatever it is you consider “work.”
The idea is that, instead of saying (or thinking), “I have to do this…,” you ought to train yourself to say (or think), “I get to do this…”
Apparently, when you have to do something, you’re doing it out of obligation. It’s a drudgery. It’s not fun. You gotta do it because you gotta do it. Whereas, the things you get to do are fun and enjoyable. You’re carefree as you work. You skip through the delightful doing lightheartedly. Yay! Whee! I get to do this really cool thing!
That advice sounds nice and super-positive, but I think it completely ignores the way many creatives feel about their work.
Here’s the thing: Sometimes, there are things you feel you must do. Things you have to do. Things you are restless to achieve. These things are not necessarily drudgeries. They aren’t boring or dull. On the contrary, these goals and activities are exciting. Momentous. But, make no mistake, these things that must be done are not fun. You can’t breeze through them in a carefree manner. Sure, you get to do them. But, you have to do them too.
I feel this way a lot about writing. I am compelled to tell stories, to seek truth through words.
Is it fun? Hardly.
Do I love it? Absolutely.
Do I find ways to avoid doing it? Definitely.
But, I still have to do it.
I think most creatives — or, at least, the best creatives — feel the same. Whatever your passion is, there’s something inside you, a fire in your veins, raging to be free. And you submit to it — with all the nail-biting difficulty that it entails.
Because you have to.
Writer, singer, actor, rapper, producer Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) expressed this feeling when he told the New Yorker, “I feel chosen. My struggle is to use my humanity to create a classic work.”
Perhaps, you, too, feel chosen to create some great work, to craft some new world.
The ideas won’t let you go. The music won’t stop. The voices won’t be quiet.
You can’t be you unless you do this thing you have to do. And, it’s okay to accept — to embrace — that you, like Prometheus, are bound.
This thing you must do is a burden — a burden you can only rid yourself of by making, by creating, by bringing to life.
Don’t shrink from the things you have to do.