Writer = Entrepreneur
Are you a writer?
Then you’re an entrepreneur.
You have more in common with the young Steve Jobs and the early Sergey Brin and Mark Zuckerberg than you do with your dad who worked all his life for AT+T or your aunt who’s five months away from collecting her pension from the Post Office.
[Today’s post, by the way, is the kick-off for a new extended series that I’m calling, until someone comes up with a catchier title, “The Professional Mindset.” Over the succeeding weeks we’re going to examine the inner world of the writer and the artist, not in terms of craft or even of overcoming Resistance, but of self-management.]
What emotional and psychological skills does a writer or artist need to conceive a project, to initiate it in the face of self-doubt and the indifference and even outright opposition of others, to hang tough through the “second act horrors,” to bring the work to completion, and then to take it to market out there in the cold, cruel world.
How should she think of herself, this writer or artist? What is her most effective self-conception? Warrior? Mother? Jedi knight?
Step One, it seems to me, is to recognize that all of us–writers, artists, filmmakers, actors, musicians–are entrepreneurs.
We don’t work for the Man.
We work for ourselves.
These are two completely different modes of operating in the world and of thinking about ourselves.
One way looks outside itself—to a boss, an authority figure, an established organization of which it is a part–for daily structure, for validation, for monetary remuneration.
The other way generates these from within. From her own self and her own labors.
This is an earth-shaking, life-altering, monumental watershed of the mind and the heart.
What is an entrepreneur anyway?
My online dictionary says the word comes from the French, entreprende, “to undertake.” It’s related to “enterprise.”
A person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.
Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach defines an entrepreneur as
Someone who has an exceptionally personal relationship with the 15th of the month.
Payday where nobody is going to cut you a check except yourself.
Payday when YOU are the only one generating income.
The artist, if you think about it, is the quintessential entrepreneur.
On the upside, she possesses total workplace freedom. She can tackle any project she wants, execute it any way she wishes, take it to market any way she chooses. She can write a novel, audition for a Broadway play, compose a symphony, lay out the next Assassins’ Creed.
No one is stopping her. No one is telling her “it can’t be done.” She can rise as high as her gifts will carry her.
On the downside, she is all alone in a stark, indifferent universe.
No one guarantees her an income. No one provides daily structure. No one motivates her, no one mentors her, no one pats her on the back.
That’s an entrepreneur.
Over the coming weeks we’re going to examine what it takes—emotionally and psychologically—to succeed in this raw, often cruel, Wild West universe.
We’re going to take a hard look at the Professional Mindset and how it applies to those of us seeking to make our living/satisfy our soul at the intersection of Art and Commerce.