Will I Enjoy It? Will It Make Me Money?
Updated: Jan 11
Will I enjoy it? Will it make me money?
Asking myself these two questions has saved me from accepting work that would only have given me heartache and been so badly paid or risky I that would have despaired of myself for doing it.
These nine words are printed and pasted over my desk as a reminder to myself whenever I’m in doubt about a job. Once again this has turned out to be handy.
Last week I turned down a deal with a well-known publisher because they wouldn’t cough-up a decent advance on a book they were keen for me to write. I’d spent a substantial amount of time preparing a proposal which had been well received by their reviewers.
The book would have taken me at least three months to research and write. Historically, it’s the norm for own-working writers like me to invest time and money in producing and marketing their work (publishers won’t spend on marketing unless you’re a big-name author) in the hope that it sells and we eventually make something from the royalties. If it doesn't sell, I make nothing for my work.
Meantime, the commissioning editor and his team are being paid fulltime salaries while I contribute to their KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators). Not much risk in it for them.
So why not self-publish, I hear you ask? At least you’d not have to share any profits and it’s reasonably cheap and easyish to do. And I might. And this is exactly what I politely put to the really very nice commissioning editor at the well-known publishers. I’ve heard nothing back. I suppose scroll makers hid from the painful truth about books once. More people than ever are successfully self-publishing and I'm probably going to join them with this book.
Of course, we all have to take gigs we don’t want to do from time to time. But a long-term commitment to work which isn’t a good fit and/or pays insultingly is not what any of us left employment to do. Self-employment is tough, very tough sometimes, but on the whole most of the work can be made to work for us. We have a certain freedom of expression and can ask in return a fee which leaves us with a modicum of self-respect.
I want to work to my strengths. The gigs I dislike usually exhaust my faculties. Most of us can put our mind to many things and do a decent job of them but after a while, if they aren't utilising our real skills and interests, they deplete us because they force us into ways of working that are uncomfortable and eventually, exhausting. They don’t make the most of our authentic assets.
I used to organise events and conferences. I learned how to do this out of necessity and was seen to do a good job of it so was asked to do more of the same. Flattered and obliging, I did. One thing led to another and I ended up doing it full time, successfully. For everyone except me. I was bored and the work drained me. The right work should energise you. I was climbing up the wrong wall.
These days I’ll do an event and be fine with it, because I know there’s an end to it. It pays a bill and I deliver a reliable result. But that’s it. Back to what I’m better at. Horses for courses and all that.
So it’s useful to check a few things before you say yes to just any old work. Ask yourself:
Will you enjoy it?
Can you learn from it?
What’s it got to do with what you really love to do?
Where will it get you?
Who will it put you in touch with?
How long will you have to do it for?
Can you stand that?
Can you at least pay the rent with what you’ll earn from it?
Or is it paying so much it’ll seduce you back for more of the soul-deadening same?
I have several times, on putting on my coat to leave the house to do something I’d unthinkingly said yes to, thought, I’d paid someone to do this job for me right now.
That’s how much I didn’t want to do it.
It’s a dismal experience. Even when you’re being paid a lot of money. When work isn’t right for you, well paid or underpaid, it leaves you wanting.
This is your life you’re getting through every day. Discover what you’re good at and what you enjoy and relish and what people will pay you to do. Then begin to use your time to make your unique contribution in these areas because, literally, no one else can do it like you. Your work is simply unrepeatable.
Jane Anderson PhD specialises in Sociospacial Reciprocity and Place Therapy. She's been working in wellbeing for nigh on 30 years and is especially interested in the people-place relationship and how it underpins all other aspects of staff engagement and wellbeing. Her Staff Wellbeing Framework Model is now charter-marked for quality assurance.
www.jcaconsult.co.uk / 07742942651