How Love Of Money Destroys Creativity

money 1I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost count of the number of websites, blog posts, tweets and links which talk about how someone grew their following to an enormous size very quickly.

Websites which show you how to ‘guarantee’ you’ll be a success, to ‘maximise the income’ from your blog, and ‘grow your fanbase’. And many of them are happy to sell you their ‘guaranteed’ path to success and wealth.

You know the ones I mean, right?

Now I’ve got nothing against people making money from their work. One day I hope and expect to do it myself. Work costs time, energy, and sometimes money to produce, and making money from it, with integrity, isn’t wrong.

But I’d rather read more posts about how to discover my true identity, become a better, more authentic writer, and be true to the person I was born to be.

Wouldn’t you?

There are some out there. But not nearly as many as those which promise success, fortune, status – and fame. They don’t use the word fame, because it’s no longer fashionable to do so.

But that’s what they mean.

For someone nearer the beginning of their journey, it’s easy to get suckered into believing these are the point. And into thinking if you don’t achieve their incredible stats, you’re a failure and should give up.

As I’ve shared here before, I’ve fallen for this story myself, several years ago. Fortunately, I had good friends who put me right. It led to my three month break from public writing, instead writing every day, but simply or myself.

It was the most liberating, freeing, creative period I’ve had.

I fell in love with writing again.

I found my voice.

More recently, I lost the appetite for blogging. I felt I’d begun blogging out of duty. So I freed myself from that obligation, which has led to the same result.

When I gave up the need for a result, the obligation to anyone or anything else, I was liberated to create better, more honest work. And ironically, I became much more productive.

The Biggest Lesson 

So what can we learn here?

1) When you tie your identity, your security, to what you do, failure can destroy you.

2) When you tie your creativity to results, it doesn’t make your more creative, but less. 

Making money, getting healthy stats, and getting subscribers are good things. But they aren’t the point. They’re never the point.

money creativity

If you get into any work merely to make money, it’ll never be your best work (you can tweet that). And no matter how good or successful the work you do produce, it will never be great work. When you have a failure – which if you’re breathing, you will – you’ll either give up, or allow yourself to drift, and remain unfulfilled. 

You’ll never love your work. You’ll only love the fruit of your work. 

And whilst fruits can be enjoyable, are they worth it if you feel unfulfilled and empty?

If you’re a writer, do you want to be the best writer you can? Do you want to create the best, most honest work you’re capable of, whatever the outcome?

Then learn to love the work. Not the fruits of the work.

And if this means working a job to pay for your life whilst you create that work, so be it. Because it’s better to create honest, authentic work birthed deep in your soul than it is to produce empty, soulless work which only exists to make money.

Now of course, we all have to pay the bills. Let’s not ignore that.

Some of our passions, callings – medicine and law for example, have natural, straightforward, sources of income. Others don’t. Sometimes pursuing our passions can make us wealthy. In my case, whether I end up making a living out of my art or not, I’ll never use money as my principle motive for creating.

I’ll keep on writing as long as I have breath. Whether I make money from it

or not.

I don’t listen to the voices trying to convince me of what is success or failure, guaranteed paths to glory, or inauthentic voices whose work betrays that their true motivation is money.

None of us should.

We all need to ask ourselves what’s more important: To sacrifice authenticity, make loads of money but feel unfulfilled – or potentially have less material wealth, but be totally fulfilled and have joy like you’ve never known?

I’ve made my choice.

What’s yours?




Question For Reflection:

Which way do you choose..and how can you put it into practice?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!



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  1. Danielle DeVane Wells on June 8, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    You’re absolutely right about money destroying creativity! I’ve recently had to deal with this very issue on my own blog, and I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to come the conclusions I have about being true to myself and writing upon those topics I believe are necessary.Thank you for this article! It only solidifies my decisions over the past week!

    • James Prescott on June 8, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      Thanks for this kind comment Danielle, and sharing so honestly. Really glad this post encouraged and affirmed you, great stuff.

  2. Jim Woods on June 8, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Great thoughts James! I totally agree and think it is sad when someone goes into business(es) only to make money and then wants to call it “art”. There is no passion there–it is simply widget making to generate numbers in a bank account. It is very clear to the end user which is which.

    • James Prescott on June 8, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      Absolutely Jim, totally agree. Thanks for the comment and the encouragement!

  3. Onisha Ellis on June 8, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Many go to jobs we dislike, yes even souless jobs because we need to pay the bills. If an author can meet their needs by writing work that sells but isn’t of the highest quality, should they not write?

    • James Prescott on June 8, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      Here’s an example Onisha. U2’s ‘The Joshua Tree’ was an international hit. Afterward, everyone wanted ‘Joshua Tree 2’ – another album of similar style, sound and look. If U2 wanted to maximise their income and guarantee another major success, they would have followed this path.

      But instead, U2 went back to their roots, they deconstructed themselves, they very nearly broke up, but were willing to take that risk to evolve, to find their authentic heart. And they found in the midst of this a new sound, a new, fresh wave of creativity, which spawned Achtung Baby. It wasn’t the album which would guarantee success and sales, but it was their authentic sound. The point for them wasn’t to make money, but to be authentic, to create something true. The album happened to be extremely successful & spawned another album of the back of this wave of creativity. I think Achtung Baby is their best – precisely because it’s so fresh, and it’s so authentic.

      To sum up, I think if we pander to money, we lose something in our soul. We lose our voice, we lose freshness, we lose authenticity – and people can smell it. And although we might be successful with it financial wise, something in us dies, and we still don’t feel fulfilled in our art.

      It’s possible – as U2 proved – to be authentic and to make a living from your art. But the art has to come first, otherwise, you will lose something, and never create the work you’re really capable of.

  4. Luke Kuhns on June 8, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Money can destroy creatively – Looking at you hollywood! but the catch 22 we need money in order to be creative!! a sick cycle

  5. Diane Rapp on June 8, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Years ago I was a real estate agent, hoping to make a fortune from my hard work and intelligence. Interest rates hit 20% and I felt like a total failure. I couldn’t help my clients find buyers who could qualify to own the homes they desperately needed to sell, and my buyers who wanted to get into a new home were out of luck. Was it me? NO. During that time I turned to writing as a way to rid my mind of negative and destructive thoughts.

    Later, I gained enough self-confidence in my writing to send it to agents. REJECTION. I felt like my writing was not good enough to sell until I finally found an agent and a publisher. The publisher went bankrupt. I quit writing for several years, but there was a hole inside me that needed filling. Now as an Indie author, I control my writing future. I don’t write for riches–the money would be in control of my writing. I write because I have stories to tell. If I make money, so much the better. I fill that hole and feel whole again.

    • James Prescott on June 8, 2015 at 5:33 pm

      Great story Diane – and spot on with your point. Writing first, money later.

  6. mnicholeh on June 8, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    James, you are so right. I have read and found that if you are authentic and true to yourself-the money will come. It is about having pure motives. Growth should be gradual if it is to be sustainable. A slow steady growth is what you want in business, not spikes of highs and lows. Great post!

    • James Prescott on June 9, 2015 at 6:48 am

      I tend to agree with you there Nichole – if you’re authentic, chances are money will come. It’s not always the case by any means, but it definitely can be. And I totally agree that slow and steady growth is much better. Thanks for the comment and encouragement Nichole!

  7. Tara Fairfield on June 9, 2015 at 2:51 am

    I’ve found most authors don’t write to make money…it would be nice but it’s not the motivator.

    • James Prescott on June 9, 2015 at 6:46 am

      That’s definitely how it should be Tara, I agree. Thanks.

  8. Elyse Salpeter on June 9, 2015 at 3:28 am

    This is hard because there are some people that need to write to pay the bills so they are forced to be creative, but for them it works. For me, that wouldn’t work. My muse works when she pleases so if I ever tied that into money, I’d be in big trouble.

    • James Prescott on June 9, 2015 at 6:46 am

      Absolutely Elyse, totally understand and agree with you – definitely a tough balance. Great comment, thanks.

  9. lisajey on June 10, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Well, you are preaching to the choir here! I quit doing publicity professionally to pursue my writing and professional fitness careers, and it’s no picnic… but I love it!

    • James Prescott on July 30, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Absolutely Lisa Jey – hope I can get there too eventually!

  10. […] “How Love of Money Destroys Creativity” by James Prescott. This struck a chord because the first thing I think of is “how can I monetize this?” I’m not sure where this came from but it’s something I’ve passed along to my daughter, who is always trying to think up ways she can start her own business using the skills she’s learned (which is not a bad thing, I’m trying to curate that spirit of entrepreneurship). On the flip side Himself almost feels that if you’re monetizing your craft you’re selling out,  that you’ve somehow demeaned that spirit of creativity. I’m hoping that between us we’ll find a workable balance. […]

  11. Aditi on July 27, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Great post James — couldn’t agree more with this message. I think finding the true satisfaction and passion within ones own independent creations is critical before sharing it to a longer audience . Best wishes!

    • James Prescott on July 30, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Thanks for the comment & encouragement Aditi – appreciate it. Best to you too!

  12. Jasemine-Denise on July 27, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    This blog is amazing. I mean, I never realized how much security became a huge part of my life and how it stunted my work and became my biggest insecurity. This really brought me back to myself and my life! Thank you so much! Amazing!

    • James Prescott on July 30, 2015 at 8:31 am

      This comment is so so encouraging Jasemine-Denise, really pleased this post had such a positive impact. Thank you for such an encouraging response.

  13. Olivia Youngs on July 28, 2015 at 3:06 am

    I needed to read this tonight. Thank you! It’s scary how easy it is to make our writing solely about the results we want. Your points are spot on and very encouraging!


    • James Prescott on July 30, 2015 at 8:30 am

      Wow, thanks for this encouragement Olivia – so glad the post was helpful.

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