The 90% tax on your creative work

Mahershala Ali says:

You really only actually act between action and cut. 10% of the time. 

The rest of it is prepping for [it]—the wardrobe, the costume elements of it, the building the psychology and getting ready for the piece itself. Actually getting to act is such a miniscule part of the experience that you have to love it that much. 

That’s not to say it isn’t great, because it holistically is an amazing experience. But there’s a real tax within it that you have to be conscious of—going within it, and say, ‘Alright, I love this so much that all these little aspects that add up to make this the fuller experience—I’m okay with it. The time, the sacrifice… you don’t see [your family], like you really don’t. You’re just passing ships, for maybe ten months in a year. In some ways, it’s good for people to know that.

I’ve found that to be the case for writing full-time as well; when I did it, there were days when the administration, the promotion, the research, the conversations, all took up way more time than actually writing.

If you’re interested in pursuing your creative work because you love it, then you’re actually not missing out on that much if you don’t get a chance to do it full-time. In fact, if you take on a full-time job and do your creative work outside of that, you’ll be free of all the financial and social pressures that come with a full-time creative role.

There’s a lot of freedom that comes with this path. You can choose to be near your family, for starters. You can choose the jobs you take—because you’ll be the ones initiating them. Nobody in your creative work can exert control over you with money, because you don’t really need it; you’ve got a job.

With that path, what you will miss out on is the scene, the prestige, the life experiences—the highs and the lows—that come with the business model of creative work and trying to make money from it. That’s not insignificant either; you might gain more recognition and people will, sadly, probably take your work more seriously. You’ll also be able to relate to other people who do it full-time better.

But either way, the inner scorecard will remain similar; you’ll still be able to spend 10% of your time on your creative work. If you work a day job at 40 hours per week, you can wake up an hour earlier each day, or sleep an hour later, in order to do it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *