Several days a week I go to the YMCA, around noon. As I walk around the elevated track, I watch the basketball games going on below. Each day around 20 people are gathered, making enough for 4 complete teams for two simultaneous games.
The players are young and old. They are brown, tan, white and black. They are mostly male, but at least one woman is usually among them. There are buzz cuts and afros, dreadlocks and ponytails, and even a bald head or two. Some are decked out in Nike or Under Armor while others are clad in t-shirts sporting logos of their church/favorite team/company. Half of the players wear nondescript blue jerseys.
These people, these ball players, run and dribble and shoot and score. They pass and shout and call for the ball. They smile and offer up high-fives and sweat. These people show up in the middle of the day, in a public space, to do what they so clearly enjoy. They will be back tomorrow.
And if I had to bet, I would put money down on the fact that they talk about their games outside of the gym. I bet they dramatically tell about the perfect shot while miming a hook shot… in the living room, at the grocery store, or while picking up their kids from daycare. I’d also be willing to wager the responses to their stories are not phrases like this…
“Dude, give it up. You’re never gonna go pro.”
“Seriously? Back at it again?”
“Have you signed a sponsor yet?”
“Wait? You pay someone… to LET you play basketball? Something you could do at a public park for free?”
My question for you today is this: Why is writing any different?
Why, when you spend time on your creative pursuit, do you feel the need to justify your time, energy, and expense? Why, are you asked by friends and family if your creative pursuit is financially rewarding? Why do other people get to hunt/golf/quilt/garden/fish/travel with zero societal pressure of success, but writers (and creators in general) are not afforded that same luxury?
The answer should be, writing is not any different. But, if we are being honest, it is not viewed with the same lens. And if we don’t force others to realize that our free time is being scrutinized in a way that others’ is, it will never change.
Today, do this.
Schedule your writing time religiously. Ask your family to honor that time, guilt free. Take the class. Talk about your writing projects with your friends. Sign up for the retreat. Simply put, practice your hobby/craft/passion/whatever-you-call-it the way you see the rest of the world practice theirs.