If You Build It, Will They Come?

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Nothing like having your bluff called by a legendary writer and creator…

For a few years now, I’ve been saying I’m a writer. An author. Ask me what I really want to do and, behind closed doors, I’ll tell you I want to write a transcendent book every 2 years, speak on stuff that changes lives twice a month and teach a course on the renegade lifestyle and entrepreneurship, both privately and at a university.

Holy crap…was that out loud?!

Thing is, I also have to support a family and I like to be comfortable, so when it comes to me being a writer, I’ve been keeping this whiteboard of book ideas that I’d like to write and that I think I can sell to a large, hungry market. And, sitting here, for the better part of a year and a half, not writing my next book.

Not because I don’t have ideas. Hell, I’ve got tons.

But because I’ve been trying to suss out which idea will have the most commercial potential. That, and my “people” essentially told me, don’t bother writing the next one until Career Renegade has run it’s course, because the publishers will tell you what they want you to write next. Plus, you want to get paid to write, right?

Then, along comes book and screenwriting legend, Steven Pressfield (The War of Art, The legend of Baggar Vance, Gates of Fire, Tides of War) with a riff on his blog about how he chooses what he’s going to write next.

In his post, Pressfield reveals:

The people I was meeting with were uniformly smart, motivated, funny. They treated me with respect. They were good peeps. What was wrong? Was it me? This was serious. The emotion was such a downer that I thought, I can’t keep feeling this and stay in this business. What was happening? Finally it hit me.

I realized that floating in the air over every meeting I had been on was an unspoken assumption. The execs and producers and studio people all shared this assumption, and they assumed—because I was in the room with them—that I shared it too.

The assumption was this: We will do anything for a hit.

I don’t fault that position. It’s a good business model. If ultra-violence will get us a smash, let’s go with ultra-violence. If jerk-off teen comedies work, crank ‘em out. Movies based on board games, old TV shows, comic book characters … cue ‘em up, let’s roll.

The problem for me was I didn’t share that assumption. That was why these meetings were depressing me so much. I hated those kinds of movies. That wasn’t why I was here at all! I had decided to take a crack at the movie business because I loved movies; I wanted to write stuff that meant something to me. Movies like the ones I worshipped. Movies I myself wanted to see.

Wham!

I want to make money. I need to make money.

But, you know what, I write not just because someone believes my content has blockbuster potential and is willing to pay me. I write at least in part because that’s who I am and what I do. Because it’s proven itself a powerful channel to connect with and impact others.

But, here’s the hard part. The one Pressfield seems to have found peace with, yet I still struggle with.

He continues:

I drew two big circles on a piece of paper. In one I wrote STORIES I LOVE. In the other, STORIES THAT MIGHT SELL. These were two separate circles. But, I thought, let’s move them together. Is there an overlap? Is there a quadrant, however miniscule, where these two spheres intersect? Yes, there is. That tiny sliver I called MY BUSINESS….Here’s the interesting part: it didn’t work.

…As much sense as the overlapping circles made in theory, they didn’t work for me in practice. What did succeed was being totally stupid and jumping off a cliff. That’s my business plan and I’m sticking to it.

That sliver, the commercially-viable sweet spot of which Pressfield writes is a bit like the psychic Mafia.

Every time you try to get out, it just keeps pulling you back in. I’ve operated within the sweet spot in business and it’s served me well and generated millions in revenue.

But, doing so in the context of my own pure, solitary creative output has become a far bigger struggle.

And, it seems, the more skilled I become at my craft, the more pronounced the struggle becomes.

I know, intuitively, that it is possible to reach a place where craft, seasoning, intention and action become so exquisitely aligned, the rules cease to apply. I’ve seen it happen. We all have. And I’ve experienced passing moments in that gorgeous place.

Questions is, how do you know when you’ve arrive at that place where the rules no longer bind you?

How do you know when to build it and simply trust they will come?

Or, like the guy who asks how much the Lamborghini costs, does that very fact that the question’s being asked imply you’ve not yet arrived?

And, if you haven’t…

Is there some accelerant you can pour on the process beyond time in the game?

I’m working hard on the answer.

And, coming ever closer to getting stupid and jumping off a cliff..

How about you?

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55 responses

55 responses to “If You Build It, Will They Come?”

  1. Jonathan, sounds like you are coming at this from the belief that other people won’t like what you want. How do you know that is the case?

    It sounds very wishy-washy to say but I’ve always found if you follow your heart’s passion you will always be ok. It may be an uphill struggle to begin with but things always seem to have a way of working themselves out, one way or another.

    I think now is a time, possibly more than any other, that people are searching for hope and a lifestyle change. If you don’t grab your ideas and run with them, someone else will.

    Questioning happiness over money, I would say, ask a better question – how can you have both? Find a way.

    Good luck!

  2. Hear me scream? That’s the sound of your blog post striking a nerve.

    This is not only true for traditional books, but almost creative endeavor, isn’t it? Like Hugh MacLeod wrote, sex vs. cash.

    Keep up the great work.

  3. Alysson says:

    You mean I’m not alone in my existential professional crisis? Whew! It probably shouldn’t, but somehow that makes me feel a little bit better. Luckily for me, I don’t have a family depending on me to pay the bills. If I fail, I’m the only one who starves.

    I’m at the point where I’m actually okay with that. I’ve discovered over the past year that I’d rather live in my car doing something I love than live in a mansion I have to whittle away pieces of my soul to pay for. Hooray for epiphanies! 🙂

  4. Jenna Martin says:

    Oh boy does this ever hit home! I’ve struggled with this for years and years. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I will always fail if I don’t be exactly who I am inside. I can’t change myself to suit others, especially not for money. At least not for any extended period of time. I won’t bother anymore. I’ll just sit over here in my alternate universe being my weird little self and loving every minute of it. I won’t get rich but I’m a LOT happier accepting it for what it is and myself for who I am.

  5. Something tells me when we “arrive” there, we’ll realize we were there all along.

    One of my favorite lines is from “Joe vs. the Volcano,” where Meg Ryan says, “We’ll jump, and then we’ll see.”

    • Wow; so I’m *not* the only person who ever saw that movie. Frustrates me that Shandley delivers some marvelous life lessons (like ‘leap and see’) that people have missed because they were expecting something else from this movie.

      One of the most intelligent movies ever made.

      Maybe that’s what went wrong . . .

  6. It is certainly good to know that I’m not the only one with this internal debate going on. I know what I like to do, I know what I can get paid to do, now I just have to figure out how to merge those two.

  7. Jesse says:

    or is it, Ready. Fire. Aim. ?

  8. Adam King says:

    Wow. This is intense. At some point the calculated risk just needs to go away and the Big Leap just has to happen.

    Because, quite simply, you’ve proven to yourself time and time again that you are on the pulse of your people and in no way should ever doubt the intuition that inspires the next book, or conference, or training.

    Also, wouldn’t the accelerate simply be the action of creating and releasing? I’m pondering that too.

    I’m saying this for my own benefit. Great stuff.

  9. “Questions is, how do you know when you’ve arrived at that place where the rules no longer bind you?”

    I think you’re already there man. We all are. We just can’t see it.

    The work isn’t to GET somewhere. It’s to be able to see things as they are right where we are.

    The only reason we don’t “jump off cliffs” is because someone told us it was dumb, scary, stupid or dangerous.

    Chances are, they told us that because they were too scared to do it themselves.

    If you don’t jump off a cliff, I think it’s far harder to fly.

  10. Fantastic questions and great food for thought today! I appreciate you being vulnerable and sharing your thoughts with us, which I know SO many of us can relate to!

    I remember when I made the leap and left my corporate job (which was a great job!) to launch my own coaching business. My vision and dream of building the coaching business was so strong, that ‘it’ began to call ‘me’. I found such strength when I locked on to that vision and didn’t let go. At the time, all the experts told me I had to do it a certain way…with a thoughtful business plan, a solid foundation, etc. Instead I did what intuitively felt right to me–I followed my gut, followed my heart. I never created a business plan (and still haven’t, seven years later) and I jumped.

    And it’s been the most incredible journey of my life! Fulfilling, rewarding, satisfying, joy-filled. LOVE the idea of being stupid and jumping off a cliff. It doesn’t fit the mold of what we’re ‘supposed’ to do, but who gives a rip? We are each the expert on our own lives. Reminds me of the quote I have posted in my office by Norman Vincent Peale: “Throw your heart over the fence and the rest will follow.” Amen to that one!

    As you mentioned above, I, too want to make money and need to make money. And I struggle with this one, and have to keep learning the lesson over and over–that when I’m in the zone, when I’m following the things that bring me joy…the money follows, often quite effortlessly. I have to remind myself every day to trust in that.

    Thanks, Jonathan, for the getting me to think bigger today. And I’m cheering you on to get “totally stupid” and jump!

  11. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by twittybean: If You Build It, Will They Come? http://bit.ly/d1u1Ly

  12. I agree with Jesse. Ready, Fire Aim…and sometimes, after firing, you find you don’t need to aim! You’ve hit it!

    That’s how you tell, Jonathan. Take the jump. The only way to find out if you fall, or if you fly, is to leap already.

  13. Daniel Sroka says:

    Fascinating how Pressfield describes that the union of “Stories I love” and “Stories I might sell” didn’t work for him as a business model. Quite a relief actually! In my art business, I’ve been trying to toe that line for quite a while. While I have always felt the push to make art that I know there’s a market for, I’ve been drawn to make art that I am more passionate about, but honestly, may not sell. So I too have been trying to find that sweet spot in the middle and been getting frustrated. Playing the sweet spot does neither side any justice. I think you have to play one side or the other: go whole-hog commercial, or jump off that cliff and follow you passion.

  14. “What did succeed was being totally stupid and jumping off a cliff. That’s my business plan and I’m sticking to it.”

    Haha! It reminds of a line I read once in a blog post about an interview with a musician. He had tried a variety of ways to make money with his music, and I don’t recall how it finally worked out for him, but it did.

    The description he gave has always stuck with me – he said it’s a like a magic cow that poops money. He doesn’t understand how the music makes him money since the business model isn’t what he envisioned – but he just keeps doing what he does, music goes in one end and money comes out the other!

  15. Yeah, there’s a reason “Just Do It” resonates. Eliza Fayle, of silverandgrace.com wrote about her commitment to run a marathon by citing another writer who suggested instead of thinking “I have to do it,” think “I have IT to do.” I liked that a lot.

    Devoted effort to a passion will reap rewards. If there’s a redefinition of what a reward is during the process, e.g., something not financial, I’m idealistic enough to believe needs will be met despite that aspect. I also know that focusing primarily on the money portends radically different output than not. So, the question becomes, what would serve you best at this moment? The answer determines how you proceed.

  16. Dave Doolin says:

    I know I’ve reached when I can go into the grocery store and get whatever I want without worrying about it.

    Until then, Bills Must Be Paid.

    Yeah, I could burn all my stuff and live in an econoline with my surfboards, but, I’m not *quite* ready for that either.

  17. ami says:

    Like some stupid teenager at a party full of bad judgment, I want to chant, “Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump!”

    Because seeing other people do the dumb thing makes me want to do the dumb thing, too.

    Except in this case, maybe it’s not so dumb.

    Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump!

  18. Mike Willner says:

    Sorry to throw cold water on your dream, but I’m with Dave Doolin, a man’s got to eat and feed his family. You have to consider what would happen if you build it and they don’t come. Can you live with the consequences? If you can, then go for it. If you can’t, than you can’t buy that Lamborghini. Venture capitalists pool all their money, money they can afford to lose, and fund companies that may, but most often will not, make it. Are you willing to play venture capitalist with your life? Was Pressfield “totally stupid” when he jumped off the cliff, or was he wearing a golden parachute? When did he draw those circles, after he was already financially secure? Calculate your minimum financial requirements and figure out if you will still be able to meet them if you build it and they don’t come. If not, you should build up the kitty a while longer before you take the leap. IMHO

  19. Mark Silver says:

    This is such a subtle line you’re talking about- it seems so huge and big and meaningful, and I can feel the ache, too, at times.

    And I can’t help but wonder about our attachment to “the dream.” I think about my ancestors, peasants and eastern European Jews, all of them. And I think that the meaning they found in life was in their community, in their spiritual practice, in the connection with others, as you write about.

    The work itself was just the work. You farmed. You sold useful things. You were a dairyman or a butcher or a baker.

    I sometimes long not for jumping off the cliff and the amazingly meaningful worklife, but going back to a simple routine of work, and finding the extraodinary there.

    It’s true I had a bit of an extraordinary job as a paramedic- but lots of it was pretty routine, too. The search for meaning in the act of work is I believe, ultimately, found more in the act than in what the work is.

    What if writing were a day job? How would that change your relationship to it? I wonder that for myself…

    And still… and still… a mighty nice post, Mr. Fields. Which has me on the contrarian view as well, saying, “Just jump.”

  20. Very thought provoking.

    Things I’m pondering as a result:

    ~ A cliff is a metaphor. It holds within in adrenalin, danger, excitement, but also an on/off distinction with a certain amount of finality.

    Maybe it’s not a cliff. Maybe thinking of it as planting seeds, or combining colours on a palette, or taking a different fork in the river (that ultimately all leads to the same place) might change things somewhat.

    ~ Maybe our success has less to do with our ideas, than about the fact those ideas are being presented/filtered/offered by us. Maybe it’s us, and it doesn’t really matter a great deal what we offer, if it’s done with verve and intelligence and subtlety (or whatever). Like we like songs by the same band, because we like the band’s sound, not because there’s this one song…

    ~ We (I) have this idea that there is this single-ish destiny-like track and I’m either on track or off track. Thing is, there is no future life life until there is a future life. There is no next thing until we choose the next thing, then we’ll never know if the other things would have been better… Arg and eep – the human condition.

    ~ People can’t love a thing that doesn’t exist yet.

    Thanks for making me think.

  21. Haider says:

    Maybe the problem is in trying to find a bestseller, rather than a book that resonates really well with only a sizable chunk of people?

    Maybe it’s best to go for a series of booklets you can churn out every month or two, rather than a fat book that’ll take you a year to complete?

    If you have a loyal fan base (and you do), who are eager to read what you have to say (and they do), maybe offering them a steady stream of paid content might do the trick?

    Of course, you know about this stuff more than I do, so I’m only offering my two cents, and would be interested to know whether my suggestion makes sense or not. 🙂

  22. Karanime says:

    The answer is right in front of you, Atlas. Shrug.

    /<3

  23. Tara Mohr says:

    I love that you’ve put words around this so eloquently and with such sharpness – this is something I’ve been struggling with. I have no coherent position or answer but here are a few fragments that are helping me.

    1. When it comes to blogging/having a personal brand, the creative person at the center of that is an a very odd position: half artist, half business person. Your work is art, and its a consumer product. It is about personal expression and authenticity, and it is about meeting the market. It helps me just to remember that this is weird, that it is inherently challenging – because I’m moving between two modes and alternately using tools from two different worlds – art and business. I’m not a widget, and I’m not an avant garde grant-funded painter either. I’m something in between.

    What works for me is “jumping off the cliff” and acting like the artist when it comes to my content, my message, what I stand for. I act more like the business person when it comes to learning about how that message can best be heard by an audience, and where/how I can get the message out.

    2. I can’t game the system. I can try and convince myself I can decide what will be popular and produce that, but more often than not that just leads to something unoriginal.

    3. This is a long-term game. Wanting to have commercial success over the long haul is a lot less maddening than being attached to having a “hit” in the current round.

    I trust that if I’m producing quality work, and am awake and learning from what resonates with my audience…I’ll have some hits in my career. But every round won’t be a hit.

    If it was, I’d actually worry that I wasn’t stretching myself or my readers enough.

    Plus, so many of the filmmakers, novelists, etc that I most admire move between hits and flops. And the flops are often an initial working through, a shipped “rough draft” of the album, film, play, book, etc. that became a hit.

    Thinking long term not short term about this helps me.

    4. Last but not least, we all have to be rigorously honest about how we talk to ourselves about money. We all want to feed our families and have our basic needs met. But a lot of times when we use that language, what we really mean is “I want to make a whole lot of money.” Nothing wrong with either desire, but I think it is important to be honest with ourselves.

  24. Adrian Munday says:

    What would happen if you didn’t jump? Or maybe more importantly, what wouldn’t happen if you didn’t jump 🙂 ?

  25. Jesse says:

    I gotta ‘jump’ in here, again. I hope my kids learn that it’s admirable to live modestly, make sure the bills are paid, save for a great trip, and jump for/at/into the things you love, in the process.

  26. Jeffrey Luke says:

    I guess the question is, do you want to make Avatar or do you want to make The Hurt Locker? Do you want to herd a bunch of sheep or do you want to raise purebred dogs?

    Every inch you move toward the Stories That Might Sell circle, you have to compromise. If you go far enough, you become a whore – when all you ever wanted to do was make love.

    The best place to experience music is in small venues, not stadiums. In a stadium you might please a lot of people, but in a small venue – you can really move people.

    Do you want to please people or move them?

    At this point in my life, I’d rather move 500 people rather than please 50,000.

  27. I agree that maybe all this is more about the journey (steps forward that include thinking, trying, failing, succeeding) than the destination (the edge of the cliff or some “utopia”).

    I’ve been noodling a lot on this, mostly because I am at the point where I know I am great at what I do, I have something to say, a way to say it differently and make a big impact, but putting the words (or the work) together is the tricky part for me.

    Seth Godin says it well: artists ship! Get whatever it is together and get it out to the people!

    And I don’t think this means you have to quit your day job. If you have a new idea, start small. One comment above suggested paid content or smaller booklets. See the response and grow (go) from there. You can take a giant leap, but do it with measured steps.

    Jonathan, I love reading your thoughts! They get me all fired up, spin my thinking wheels, and inspire me. Go, go, go!

  28. Wow, did this hit home on every level. I’m right there with you at the edge of the cliff. I’ve got my stomach in my throat and I know that once I jump I’ll be thrilled that I did, but I’m still at this moment on that “Oh my God, I’ll die if I jump” place. I can feel myself being ready and can even feel how great the water feels at the bottom. Wanna hold hands and go together?

  29. Greg says:

    We do want “the” answer, the one that is going to resolve the immediate issue and anyone like like it in the future. Unfortunately, what works one time is not the same thing that works the next time. In one circumstance it is patience and discipline (the intersection of the two circles) and in another it is a wild leap of faith (solely in one circle). Each situation has to be examined on it own merits. What worked for you or someone else in the past is not automaticly the best path. I believe we are unduly influenced by “success” stories, because we usually hear from the victors and not those who have failed.

    As one best seller says “…there is a time for every season…”

  30. “Leap and the net will appear…”

    How many “out of the park” successes came from cold rational calculations (boardrooms) vs. gut feel? We all probably have a strong inkling on that one question.

    Maybe the best question to ask in stillness is “what feels right?” Happy flight !

    p.s. excellent post !

  31. So many of the business success stories I’ve read about involve someone who has an idea that seems very unrealistic or unpopular. However, he believes in the idea so much that he takes the risk, jumps, and works as hard as he can to make it a go.

    I admire those people, and still believe I will be one of them someday! Where would the world be without those who took a risk to do something they believed in?

    Thanks for the thought provoking article!

  32. Leigh Kramer says:

    I think you are struggling because you are trying to figure out ahead of time whether you can write a commercially successful book. Why not put your heart into writing the book that YOU want to write? You will risk nothing but your time, and most likely will feel extremely satisfied with your efforts.

    Then, make the marketing and sales project its own stand-alone endeavor AFTER you’ve got something you’re really proud of.

    As you know, there are no guarantees in life except, you know, death and taxes.

  33. Jonathan, not too long ago, you gave me some excellent advice: “Sometimes, you have to get a job to pay the bills until your dream happens.”

    Excellent, but, well, wrong.

    In the six weeks since you wrote that to me, those 9 1/2″ holes have started punching through the 10″ wall. Things are happening so fast I can barely keep up.

    Unless it’s going to put your family on the street or make your little one go without food, jump off the cliff.

    “how do you know when you’ve arrive at that place where the rules no longer bind you?”

    The day you ask yourself “is today the day?” and the answer is something, anything, besides “no”

  34. Just wanted to toss in another thought:

    If you already have an audience that trusts you and is willing to buy just about anything you put out, what else do you need?

    • Dan Sherman says:

      Product that audience is interested in consuming. Even “an audience that trusts you and is willing to buy just about anything you put out” is only willing to get burnt once, twice if they’re naive. Which is what the post was about. Pressfield has that audience, and he still saw serving both his artistic desires and those of an audience as an untenable position.

  35. Also, this:

    “my ‘people’ essentially told me, don’t bother writing the next one until Career Renegade has run its course, because the publishers will tell you what they want you to write next”

    I’ll use my public manners here and politely disagree. If you wanna give me a call so there’s no record, I’ll tell you what I really think of that . . .

  36. Dana Shino says:

    . . . . oh, I jumped off the cliff without looking alright and y’know — it is working in its own way. The operative phrase being ‘in it’s own way.’ Because these things take on a life of their own despite our ego driven brains. Like so many who have posted. I agree. I’d rather create something I love than do the ‘hafto’ dance. Just somedays I wonder how long I can painstakingly build this brand new platform in the wings of the wings of the wings. It’s sobering on so many days – yet in such a meaningful way.

  37. Karin Manske says:

    “How do you know when you’ve arrive at that place where the rules no longer bind you?” When you stopped asking the question.

    Just jump!

    Good luck, can’t wait to read your next book.

    Karin

  38. Maryn van Biljon says:

    We can only create the world we want to live in, by being that world. Speak your truth Jonathan, for if more people were to find the courage to speak theirs, the quicker the wave will move – it is exponential, albeit slow for now, but it is moving none the less.
    When will someone take the lead to question the values that is being put out there by the media? – movie makers, writers, Hollywood – violence, always a villain someone bad versus good instead of what’s the lesson? shallow drama of special affects, cheap rides without any depth or reason – entertainment without life. Then people get upset about crime that increasing, a world based on fear and locked doors, of distrust, failing politicians, a society based on big tits and less giving.
    Who is taking responsibility? We can blame the media, but it all starts with ourselves. Keep doing what you’re doing and do it with truth to YOUR essence. Trust that abundance will come for following your heart, because you are doing what is right, not what is giving you the easy life. BE THE CHANGE! You already are – don’t sell out!

  39. Here are the keys:

    1. Start with what you care about.
    2. Tell a compelling story about that thing you care about.
    3. Figure out who, beside yourself, will benefit from that story.
    4. Put that story in front of those who can help you reach those people.
    5. Reach those people.
    6. Don’t ruin your life doing any of the above.

    That is not jumping off a cliff. It’s jumping into yourself.

    • Napkin Dad,

      I think you’re right on with numbers 1 and 2. Most of blogs I follow (and I do buy many of their books) are because they care about what they’re doing and they have a compelling story to tell. I know it doesn’t always fit into a nice, marketable niche. But, on the other hand, neither does my life (and many others for that matter).

      I think book publishers and marketers often get caught up in works that “meet a need” or “present a solution.” Instead, they should focus on writing that makes a connection.

  40. It sounds like you listened to some bad advice and stopped writing. Start writing now! It doesn’t matter if it’s commercially viable or not.

    If you had spent that last year writing what you wanted to write you would be in the same position you are now, except you would have the satisfaction of that piece of writing.

    The waiting game only ramped up your delima and delayed your satisfaction.

  41. Janet says:

    Ah, the eternal struggle between cash and creativity. I’m old enough to have observed some people jumping off the cliff and doing the psychic equivalent of smashing onto the rocks below, so I’m not as impulsive about the advice, “Just jump,” as I once was. The problem with choosing the cash is that it, too, can be the psychic equivalent of smashing onto the rocks below. People under stress tend to think in terms of, “Either/or,” and it sounds like that is what you are doing a bit. The best answer is probably, “Both.” Your creative ideas are likely more commercial than you are anticipating (you are an excellent writer). The advice to let “Career Renegade” run its course seems ill-advised, especially since you have enthusiastic readers waiting for your next offering. Perhaps pilot your ideas and let the marketplace either reassure you or fine-tune your initial thoughts.

  42. Ligia Buzan says:

    I understand the struggle, and I also see how the more I ask the question ‘how’ (can i override this or that rule, etc), the less energy I have to leap $ create. The mind constantly seeks the comfort of the “known.”

    In the last few months I had this reccurent thought about your work Jonathan: if you published your new book online (your site, etc) I would pay to read it. I know others who would do the same.

    We’re searching for the SELF of course– but we’re half blind. When I read your thoughts it;s as if there is this huge mirror in front of me– I can see clearly. Your thoughts, my thoughs are one, part of the SOUL of the world, as Coehlo puts it.

    Build it, they will come!

  43. […] I read about Steven Pressman in an excellent blog post by Jonathan Fields. I also just read a somewhat-related post by Seth Godin, where he discusses: “should I write […]

  44. Dan Sherman says:

    Damn it all, Fields, and write what you can’t not write. Read what Charles Bukowski said about writing. There’s no more convincing argument for your current dilemma than his words.

  45. I can understand the dilemma well. I have this and a similar one, here it is:

    Most of the successful writers and bloggers write about their passion. Jonathan, your problem is a heap of passions and ideas for writing and the dilemma of finding the commercially viable option. I like what Pressfield and many commenters have said and it makes sense to me.

    My problem is I’m not very passionate about anything. Well, thats not entirely true – I’m extremely passionate about my wife of 14 years and our two children, but I’m sure nobody else whats to hear about it.

    I love tennis but only play socially and occasionally.

    I enjoy photography, was a keen cyclist a couple of decades ago, like travelling. The problem is none of them is a burning lifelong passion.

    As I write this I realise my problems run far deeper than what to write about – they are more about “what to live about” 😉

    • Richard, I’m sorta with Jesse on this—I understand why you assume nobody wants to hear about some guy who’s in love with his wife and cares about his kids, but, really, look at where far too many people end up. You’ve got something pretty special there.

      And here’s where you have to get heretical: everybody who wants to make a great living doing something they love starts out looking for *and existing business idea* they could love.

      That’s all wrong.

      Start with your passion, and from there, find something you can deliver. It’s not intuitively obvious to the casual observer how being genuinely passionate about your marriage and family could lead to making a great living, but, hey, if it was obvious, wouldn’t everybody be doing it?

      That box you keep hearing you should think outside of?

      This is that box.

  46. Jesse says:

    Richard,
    I would love reading about a guy who’s passionate about his wife and kids. That is “what to live about”.

  47. […] Awake @ the Wheel, Jonathan Fields asks: how do you know when to build it and simply trust they will come? Share/Bookmark var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname="On Following Your Pride"; […]

  48. izle says:

    I’ve been trying to toe that line for quite a while. While I have always felt the push to make art that I know there’s a market for, I’ve been drawn to make art that I am more passionate about, but honestly, may not sell.

  49. John Mitchel says:

    I agree with the guy who linked to the Bukowski poem. Writing should come tearing out of you or not at all if you’re really trying to do it creatively instead of just to make money. Bukowski’s words have helped me a lot with my writing. I follow a Bukowski Quotes Twitter feed you may find inspirational. Anyway, good luck with whatever you decide.