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Where's the Joy?

For the purposes of this blog, let me define the difference between pleasure and joy. Pleasure is a short term shot of happiness. Pleasure is being cast in a show, getting a gig booked, reading a good review, seeing an article about your work. Pleasure is a lovely but fleeting thing.

But pleasure isn’t joy.

Joy is the long term, sustained feeling. Joy doesn’t mean that the path is smooth, or that there aren’t bad days. But joy is the underlying feeling that gets you through the rough spots.

Does your artistic work bring you joy?

There may be parts that don’t. In my writing life, getting that first draft done is a challenge. A friend once described it as putting a log through a meat grinder, and she was right. There isn’t pleasure in that first draft.

But there is joy. I know that this is part of the process of writing, and that gives me great joy. So I’d rather be struggling with my first draft than not be a writer.

So, here are my questions this week as we explore the mindset of your artistic path.

What parts of your work give you pleasure?

Does your work, overall, bring you joy?

If not, what shifts can you make to change that? Is it a mindset shift of remembering why you are on this path? (Did you download this worksheet and read this blog post about “What is Your Why?”)

Or are you feeling burnout and you need to regroup? Here’s the thing--we all need to step back a bit once in a while and recharge. Frequently, our artistic paths are all encompassing, require feats of juggling, and are physically, emotionally and creatively draining.

If you need to step back and recharge, by all means do that.

But if your work no longer brings you joy, and you’ve been going from one pleasure moment to another pleasure moment to get through, maybe you need to do more than step back. You need to regroup.

What about the work used to give you joy?

Where did that joy come from?

What else will give you the same joy?

I invite you to watch this TedX talk by Laura Berman Fortgang. She talks about drilling down on your skills, on what gives you joy, and thinking expansively about how to use those skills.

I’m not suggesting folks give up their artistic practice. But I am suggesting, strongly, that you check in on your joy.

Thank you for doing your work, and for putting your creative energy into the world. We all need it.


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