Getting Paid

by Randy Murray on June 12, 2012

How do know if you’re a professional? You get paid.

Being a professional doesn’t have to do with quality, it has to do with compensation. Some of the finest practitioners of arts and sciences have been amateurs. I greatly dislike the term “amateurish,” when it’s used to mean ‘of poor quality or effort.’ Some of the finest athletes on the planet are amateurs. You can be a great writer, musician, artist, and never collect a single paycheck for that effort. There’s pride in being an accomplished amateur.

It’s the pay that makes you a pro, not the quality of your work.

In this true sense of the word what are you a professional at? What to others pay you to do? Now ask yourself another question: what are you really good at? What do you love to do?

Your answers might show two or more completely different things. Frankly that’s OK. It’s more than OK to play and sing well, but never get paid. It’s great to be a writer with an audience and never collect a penny for it. Frankly, only a lucky few get to completely align their interests and activities with what they can do to earn a living, to get paid.

It’s also OK to be good at something other than your great loves and to be paid for that.

What does getting paid mean? It may mean a change in your motivation. Why are you doing this thing? Just to get paid? Does that make you more or less happy?

For the artist, the writer, it’s a very difficult question. I get paid to write for businesses writing and, fortunately, I find that fun and interesting. I get paid, but very little, to write plays and fiction. It would be great if I could make a living as a playwright, but it’s not essential.  Because I can make a living writing for business, the play I’m currently writing  may be less commercially rewarding than if I could have collected a paycheck for writing it (I always hope for commercial success, but don’t count on it).

I get paid as a writer because over the years I’ve developed the tools that make me valuable. I thought for a while that I’d have to make a living as a business manager and I could do that and still write. I’m glad I can write for a living. It was not a betrayal of my art to take a paying gig. It enabled my art.

And that’s why you need to get paid.

The Getting Paid by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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