Thursday, July 31, 2008

How Turning a Love into a Job Changes Things

First, Scrabulous is BACK! Now called Wordscraper! I love the universe once more.

From Lifehacker: Research shows that classic career advice—"find a way to get paid to do what you love"—may be way off the mark. The Washington Post's Shankar Vedantam reports that paychecks and pink slips aren't good long-term motivators:

Beliefs about the utility of rewards and punishments in motivating human behavior are deeply ingrained, and most people don't know that more than 100 research studies have shown that motivating people in this manner can have the unintentional effect of undermining their internal drives.

How fascinating is that? I'd say that's very true. I know that in my feelings about my studio, this is a BIG truism. Part of my "mental" problem is dealing with students who don't pay. I start thinking I must suck as a teacher for them to not want to pay me on time. (Which depresses me, deflates my enthusiasm, and then DOES make me a worse teacher, LOL.)

I HATE money being involved in teaching. It's often a conflict of interests, you know? Especially in private teaching.

I've only ever written for money, although at first, I considered it icing on the cake. So writing for money doesn't bother me, although writing for a market that might not pay me HUGELY bothers me, LOL.

In fact, writing is a refuge in that way: as much as I'm determined to write for readers, I am really happy that it's the one thing I don't mind making money at. Does that sound strange?

The money thing didn't "twist" it into something different I wasn't sure I liked. The money thing was always there, so it didn't change things.

But piano and music? I can't tell you how many times I've said I wish I could teach for free. The money mucks things up. I've also wished I could play piano as a hobby again. The money thing totally changes the experience.

Once you do something to pay the bills, you're doing it to pay the bills. You're not doing it for the sheer love of it anymore. It's a responsibility rather than a joy.

I think Star Trek had something when it decided people would work for the joy of it, rather than for money. One of the many reasons I love Star Trek.

What do you think?

29 bonus scribbles:

Heather Harper 7/31/2008 10:30:00 PM  

Star Trek is teh awesome!

And money is a must because books and chocolate are not free.

spyscribbler 7/31/2008 10:40:00 PM  

SO true, Heather! Speaking of chocolate...

spyscribbler 7/31/2008 10:41:00 PM  

I'm so mad! Blogger locked my blog because it thinks I'm SPAM??? Do I seem like spam to you?

*major pout*

Zoe Winters 8/01/2008 02:06:00 AM  

It would be nice to live in a world where people didn't leave money. That's what heaven would be to me. Not freaky communism or any system that tries to make this happen in a context of force, but a world where we all did the things that we were naturally good at and drawn to and that made us happy and shared those things freely with the world. Farmers just grew food and gave it to the people who needed it. Doctors took care of sick people, etc.

Money isn't even real. I don't understand how we have a system based on something that is entirely theoretical. It's just paper, and half the time not even that, just numbers in an account. How the hell is it that numbers and fake abstract concepts have created an "economy?"

Zoe Winters 8/01/2008 02:06:00 AM  

*didn't need money. ack.

StarvingWriteNow 8/01/2008 06:19:00 AM  

Your teaching methods have nothing to do with it. They're lazy shits who are taking advantage of you. Don't let them do it. No pay, no teach. Period.

Do you need me to beat up those people for you?

Angie 8/01/2008 08:12:00 AM  

There are a couple of motivators for my writing. One is feedback from readers, and the other is money.

I write fanfic for free, but get lots (relatively speaking) of reader comments. Knowing that readers liked my work, having them say how much they loved it and quote their favorite bits and discuss how a story made them feel -- that's awesome.

I write profic for money. Not very much yet [wry smile] but I love getting my royalty statements and seeing how many people thought my stories were worth spending actual money on. In our culture, having people give you money means they really value whatever you're doing for them in return; that's true whether we like it or not.

Some day I hope to get both for my profic -- lots of money and lots of reader (and reviewer) comments. At that point I might consider moving away from writing fanfic and concentrating on my profic. Until that happens, though, I need both to get the return I want.


Christa M. Miller 8/01/2008 08:52:00 AM  

Thanks so much for posting this - I am working on an article that deals with this exact issue... :)

Mark Terry 8/01/2008 09:08:00 AM  

Yes, I'm motivated by money, but I'm mostly motivated by money to write things I wouldn't otherwise write. I've noted before that my attitude about writing changed when I started doing it for a living. Less joy, more discipline. I still love it, but I definitely feel differently about it now.

Interestingly, I recently read an interview with George Lucas where he said his father discouraged him from going into filmmaking, his argument being that when you go into business doing something you love, it's too easy for people to take advantage of you because they know you'll take less money to do it. (What I think could be called The Novelist's Paradox).

I'd never thought about it that way and I see his point. Alternatively, I think if you're going to be successful in anything you're going to have to be sort of hard-nosed about the payment thing, whether you have a passion for the work or not.

spyscribbler 8/01/2008 12:23:00 PM  

Zoe, so true! It is a strange thing. Wasn't it Oz that had all those symbols protesting us leaving gold-based money?

Edie 8/01/2008 12:49:00 PM  

I work for the joy of it now. But I'd really love getting paid a lot of money for it.

Spy, you should let Starving beat those non-payers up for you. I'd offer, but they're probably all bigger than I am.

Zoe Winters 8/01/2008 01:01:00 PM  

I don't know Spy, are we talking "the wizard of" or "HBO prison show?"

Robin 8/01/2008 01:32:00 PM  

In psychiatry, there's this thing they teach you in residency, and it's that if you don't charge for your services, and see that you get paid, people won't value what they get. I always thought it was an annoying psychobabbly justification for charging people. However, I find that when I work at free clinics, people don't show up, don't call to cancel, and don't seem to value me.
Could this be a socioeconomic phenomenon? Well, when I waive my fee in my private practice (people lose their jobs, etc.), the same thing happens.
It's great to be selfless and giving, but that can be interpreted by the stupid society we live in, as not being of worth.

spyscribbler 8/01/2008 01:36:00 PM  

LOL, Writenow. Yes! Go beat them up!

spyscribbler 8/01/2008 01:58:00 PM  

Angie, that sounds healthy! It's good to have balance. Maybe I should approach things that way: pseudofiction as normal, and me as a more exploratory creative thing.

spyscribbler 8/01/2008 02:05:00 PM  

Cool, Christa! Glad I could be timely!

spyscribbler 8/01/2008 04:30:00 PM  

The Novelist's Paradox: I like that, Mark! It seems to be true: I mean, remember that study where average advances have not budged for thirty years?

I do enjoy the more discipline, and I have definitely written a ton more words than I would have, otherwise.

spyscribbler 8/01/2008 04:31:00 PM  

Bigger, shmigger, Edie. I don't think a one of them can stand up to your spirit!

spyscribbler 8/01/2008 04:32:00 PM  

LOL, Zoe! I am SO behind the times. I meant the Wizard and his Yellow Brick Road. :-)

spyscribbler 8/01/2008 04:33:00 PM  

Robin, that's very true. And sad. How sad is that? I've found that whenever I do a student a favor financially, they're the least loyal and the least thankful. It is a strange phenomenon.

lainey bancroft 8/01/2008 05:29:00 PM  

Wow. So many great thoughts here!

1st ((sorry about blogger. you are most certainly NOT spam)) I am gonna 'make the switch' Honest and for real this time, but not to blogger! Heard too many iffy things for a tech-turd like me. :(

2nd If Starving needs back up, I'm in. Been an angry housewife/ac gal honing my kickboxing lately. They WILL pay!Edie can stand back, glare and collect the funds. =)

3rd Interesting what Mark said about GL. I've encouaged Groovy to pursue art for that very reason. I 'loved' to write always but my family poo-pooed it as a hobby. I wanted my kid to know if she did something she loved and had increidible talent for the money would come--or not--but at least she'd be doing something she loved. She, in her zooming toward 18 yo wisdom, has decided she has no desire to cartoon for a living because it will kill the creative outlet it currently is and just become a ^&&%* job.

And finally (I promise) Robin is right. Sadly, almost everyone Gas has helped out with fiddly service etc only becomes a repeat caller expecting him to perform routine maintenance for nothing when they snap their fingers.

Travis Erwin 8/02/2008 02:23:00 PM  

I think blogger has been tagging a lot of people as spammers. Must be a glitch. And I started a wordscraper game with you, but I'm not sure what I'm doing.

Melanie Avila 8/02/2008 02:36:00 PM  

Spy, I don't mean to compare your life to a sitcom, but I'm going to for just a moment. Before reading the comments, I remembered an episode of Friends where Monica was having trouble getting catering clients to pay for her services. She loved the work and felt bad asking people to pay. The solution: Phoebe tagged along as her "muscle." :)

Take up Starving's offer or find some muscle of your own!

Zoe Winters 8/02/2008 07:25:00 PM  

Hehe Spy, well if you get the chance, seriously, check out Oz, the HBO show, it's out on DVD. Really great show.

spyscribbler 8/02/2008 07:48:00 PM  

Groovy girl is really mature and wise. And you ARE right. With a few exceptions here and there, usually when I do extra for a student, they take it as a "right," and then expect more and more and more for nothing. It really doesn't make them grateful!

spyscribbler 8/02/2008 07:49:00 PM  

Thanks, Travis! I think they're still working out the bugs, because the scoring is a little weird. A lot weird. I can't figure it out. Sometimes I score 166 points on a word, and then other times it's like 6 points.

spyscribbler 8/02/2008 07:51:00 PM  

Oh, gosh, I remember that, Melanie! That's great! I tried to make DH my muscle, but he was too mean. Or maybe not, LOL!

spyscribbler 8/02/2008 07:51:00 PM  

Zoe, I just put it in my Netflix queue. I love Netflix!

Susan Helene Gottfried 8/08/2008 03:14:00 PM  

How can I play you at Wordscraper if we're not friends yet???