Hard Work Is Its Own Reward

I was listening to a writer talk about his work on a podcast last week.

This writer — who I won’t mention, since he’s particularly hated in certain parts of the internet — was discussing how he thinks about writing novels vs. writing screenplays, both of which he’s done to some acclaim.

He said the screenplays (and television writing, for that matter) are what ultimately keep the lights on in his Beverly Hills home. But it’s the novels — celebrated by powerful insiders, despite not earning him much cash — where he feels most at peace with himself.

Asked why he continued to write novels, when it seemed like he could easily continue raking in the big money for film/TV writing, he had a great answer.

“The work is its own reward,” he said.

I’ve been thinking about this quote ever since.

In this life, sometimes you come to a crossroads and must ask yourself whether it’s worth continuing down a certain path, even though the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t seem so visible.

But you must also ask yourself whether the light is really what you’re running towards anyway. Is the light the thing at the end of the tunnel, or is the light the actual tunnel itself?

I think it’s more the former than the latter, and that when you think there’s some imaginary finish line to cross, some light that you will hit that ultimately answers all your prayers, that’s when you begin running into problems.

Of course, goals are worth setting. It’s good to have goals. But true joy should be found in the work itself, and the goals should be met merely by the act of doing that work.

When it’s the other way around, no matter how hard you try, the lights at the end of the tunnel somehow keep moving further and further away.

You don’t need to find the light. You’re already in it

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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