You Can’t Make Me

I just spent 10 days straight writing 1000 words a day for a little project I thought up.

No one told me to do it. I just started because I realized it was important.

The most important things you’ll work on in your life will be things that no one tells you to do. They’ll be yours alone, and you will own that success, or that failure. Because it’s yours, you will value it.

If someone tells you to do it, if you’re getting paid, or there’s any other kind of incentive other than the one that comes from inside you, it won’t be the same.

If it comes from inside, there is a chance that it will be perfect. But no one will guide you there or force your hand.

It’s interesting that as soon as someone wants to make you do something, you instantly resist it, like you’re a little kid again. But if it’s about you, no one can stop you.

On some days I was writing at 3am to complete my daily quota. No one had a gun to my head. I just did it.

What do you work on that you can just keep doing– that you see value in and care about?

Find that. Work on it. No one will make you. No one will care if you do. But that shouldn’t matter, should it?






11 responses to “You Can’t Make Me”

  1. Lisa Avatar

    One of the benefits of writing for a living – as in journalism, or copyrighting – is that it trains you to write fast and quite tight. I find that translates into other writing I do for myself but then somethings just don’t ever look as good on a page as they do in your head. And this is the problem. It’s almost vandalism to write it down. Is that selfish? Not to want to share? Then it becomes a matter of catching the moment when you are feeling “generous” and able to eek it out onto a page.

  2. BRUTE! Avatar

    Firstly, its a smug ethic of art school educators to teach young aspiring artists etc. that inspiration comes from within. As a thirty year veteran of the art game, I can say that 90% of my best work has been created via the conscious or unconscious input of clients, commissioning editors and/or fans. My job would have been almost impossible (when trying to come up with 140 ideas for an advertising campaign or exhibition theme for example) unless I’d had the invaluable contributions from my animation crew or art department that gives me what I cannot supply myself. Without the input of others, one becomes a less fluid and absorbent beast: it’s a fact of life that the guiding hand of money takes you to places you would never reach just creating ‘from within’. An artist may only truly gain pure inspiration three, maybe four, times in his or her life: to suggest otherwise is to rob a growing talent the opportunities of working within hot-house ideas factories, thinking laterally and learning to with both hands. And making money, of course.

    Everywhere I have been, I have met artists hobbled by this ‘don’t compromise’ attitude. They wait around all their humble lives for some grand idea to spring unpasteurised from the snowy whiteness of their subconscious, meanwhile letting their hands and minds grow stale. Your article perpetuates this ideal.

  3. Dave Sohnchen Avatar

    This reminds me of Daniel Pink’s book “Drive” that I just finished reading and the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. I’m at the front end of a transition in vocation and have been asking myself the same types of questions. What am I passionate about? If the money didn’t matter, what would I do? For me, I’m passionate about people and seeing the humanity that’s at their core (something that gets overlooked far too often these days). I know I can always do this for free in whatever context I’m put into, but if connecting with people, really connecting with them, was at the core of a business and there I was making money, would I feel the same way about my passion? Or would something be lost because, now as part of my job, I’m being paid to do it?

  4. Lindsey Donner Avatar

    Another advantage Lisa neglected to mention is the low pay. Writers often write for free. And, heck, look at all of us blogging. (Though, arguably, for many, blogging is incentivized by a number of quantifiable things: followers, retweets, Likes, subscribers, etc.)

    I believe you’re partly right, but I think that this sense of owning a success or failure also comes from thinking outside the workplace constraints and taking on projects that matter for their own sake, rather than pleasing a boss or seeking a pay raise. (After all, not many of those going on these days…) I find it to be true for myself that if I want to do something, I will do it well, and will seek little outside confirmation that it was worth my while.

  5. Julie Roads Avatar

    Beautiful, Julien. I especially like the part about ‘trust’ (wink wink). But, seriously folks – there is a marked difference between my desire, focus and drive when I’m writing my own blog, when I’m writing for clients I love and feel passionate about and clients that are just a paycheck.

    The goal? To get paid to just be me. Can’t wait to see what you’ve created, Julien. Hope you plan to share.

  6. Ramsey Mohsen Avatar

    I got up from my chair at the restaurant and did a lap after reading this. I was that motivated. Nice work, as usual.

  7. Drew Hawkins Avatar

    Awesome. I don’t mind burning the midnight oil if it’s a project that I’m passionate about. It’s a matter of finding that thing.

  8. CT Moore Avatar

    If it comes from inside, there is a chance that it will be perfect.


    But it sure does feel that way, doesn’t it?

  9. Melissa Gorzelanczyk Avatar

    This really resonated with me: The most important things you’ll work on in your life will be things that no one tells you to do.

    Thanks for the inspiration.


  10. Rebecca Laffar-Smith Avatar

    I’ve always found inspiration reaches fever pitch when I work on projects and ideas with the freedom to embrace my own creativity rather than working within the constraints, obligation, and expectation of others.

    I’ve also found that I’m my poorest cheering section. To keep pushing through larger projects, no matter how inspired or passionate I am, I need the support and encouragement of people whose opinion matters to me.

    A blend of internal and external motivation. 🙂

  11. Ankit Avatar

    Having a goal and discipline makes a man perfect. Just follow what you dreamed for.
    It’s inspirational. Loved it.

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