Hustle culture is killing creativity
And when they played they really played.
And when they worked they really worked.
~ Dr. Seuss
I used to love to make music, draw and, occasionally, paint. I sometimes shared these things with others and received positive feedback (sometimes).
The main reason I loved these things, especially music, was that they were all for me. I neither sought nor required validation. I didn’t care if my songs, pictures, paintings or whatever else were masterpieces or absolute rubbish. Creating these things was the point, because I loved doing all of them and they helped to calm my overactive mind.
At some point, maybe 10–15 years ago, I began to lose interest in all of them. At first, I simply thought that work and family responsibilities were taking preference and I had less free time to pursue my hobbies, which was true to a degree. But something else was going on that I didn’t notice at first.
I started blogging in earnest in 2005. People told me that I should share the things I was doing with the world. Who knows, they said, it could even turn into a career. So I started sharing. I get swept away by the thought that these things I loved could actually earn me money. And then I started to take these things “seriously”. If they were to earn me money, I needed to start thinking about the business side of things: promotion, marketing, networking, perhaps even advertising.
And I spent so much time thinking about the business side of things that I stopped creating anything. In fact, it even got to the point that I stopped listening to music. These things that had helped me to relax and free me temporarily from depression and anxiety were becoming one of the leading causes of both problems.
We hustle enough
It took me a while to realize I’d fallen prey to hustle culture and the idea that I could monetize my hobbies. The internet, and social media in particular, was sucking all the joy out of small moments of pleasure and escape. Instead of simply enjoying something, I felt the need to record and share it.
It’s taken me a long time to rid myself of these thoughts, but there’s certainly light at the end of the tunnel. I’m now getting back into music and drawing as an outlet and something I genuinely enjoy, not as a thing to share or make money from.
Funnily enough, it’s my other love — writing — that has brought me full circle. I’ve always written for fun and for money, and I’ve always managed to keep those things separate. I’m working on a novel, which I’m yet to share with anyone, and that’s allowing me to truly enjoy the creative process. If and when I do try to release it, I’ll be going the old-fashioned route of seeking a publisher and/or an agent. Why? Because I don’t want the hassle and I don’t want to ruin something else with the hustle.
We hustle enough, and hustle culture can often kill creativity. Let’s keep some things to ourselves. We deserve them.