Life, Music, and Writing, in that Order

I’m a writer. There’s no doubt about that. I’ve written several books, hundreds of blog posts, nearly a thousand songs, and countless poems over the years. But lately I’ve been writing less. Why? There are a couple of reasons. Let’s take a look at life, music, and writing, in that order.

Life Overrules Everything

Although I’m writing this post a couple of days in advance, I don’t have a month’s worth of posts pre-scheduled as I have for the last 5-7 years. Heck, when I was active at Hip Diggs, I had posts scheduled out nearly a year in advance. But lately I’m just not writing to the same extent.

A few months back I added a new category to my blog. The category of Life. I broke all the rules I’d been taught about blogging. Instead of narrowing my niche, I said fuck it, and I broadened my blog to include everything under the sun: Life.

Truth be told, I’d been tiring of writing about specific topics like minimalism and productivity because I felt like I was repeating myself over and over. More importantly, I was tiring of writing period. Not because I’m not a writer, but rather because my work was not receiving much recognition.

Now before you start sarcastically saying, “Oh Dan, you poor baby, nobody buys your books,” let me explain why recognition matters, and why life matters more.

Writing is work. It’s hard ass work. I’ve spent countless hours staring at a computer, researching, planning, outlining, and writing. I’ve sacrificed time with my family. I’ve sacrificed paid overtime at my day job. And I’ve let writing trump life too many times.

But Life is more important than writing. Always. Forever. No contest.

We can’t predict what’s going to happen in our lives from day to day. We can’t go back and relive any day. If you miss the important parts of life because you were too busy with your nose in a screen, you miss it. Period. There’s no going back. You only get one life. You might die tomorrow. Or you might live to be 103.

Return On Investment

So here’s my problem with putting too much time into writing. It’s a simple business term: ROI, or return on investment.

Writing takes a shitload of time. I’ve written several books. I spent 3-5 hours a day for months on end completing those books. I made similar time commitments to writing and operating the Hip Diggs blog. Then I spent even more time trying to self-promote. I used social media, emailed other bloggers and writers, and queried publishers. And in the end, I’ll be lucky to have made $1000 over 7 years for all my hard work. Screw that!

Life is too important to let it slip away while being stuck at a computer keyboard. Life is meant to be lived. And if we don’t live a little, we have much less to ever write about in the first place.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to quit writing. I like to write. It brings me some satisfaction. But I’m going to live first. I’m also going to make more music.

Why I Put Music Before Writing

Although writing can feel in vain at times, it still brings me some personal satisfaction. Music, however, brings me much more personal satisfaction, and it feels less in vain. Why? Because I don’t give a shit if anybody else listens to my music. I write music for my own enjoyment.

If you know me, or you’ve followed my blog for a long time, you know that I was a singer-songwriter long before I started writing books and blogs. You also know that I’ve taken a step back from traditional songwriting and started creating experimental music under the name of Anderhill. If you’ve listened to Anderhill, you know that some of my work is weird and unconventional. And I love it!

I can sit and listen to my own musical works for hours a day. I can’t say that about my own writing. Once I complete a writing project, do I want to read it over three more times? Hell no! Once it’s edited and proofread, I’m done. The only exception might be song lyrics and poetry.

Think of it this way. To me, writing is like digging a ditch, or an underground tunnel system. Composing music is like going hiking, and exploring the wilderness. Which would you rather do? Really? I know my answer.

Let’s Get Back to Life

Life. I know I say it all the time. But we only get one. So use it wisely. Spend time with the people you l0ve the most. Do the things that bring you the most personal joy. That’s success. I don’t care if you write best sellers, live in a mansion, and drive a Maserati. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, you’re not successful.

On the other hand, if you live a simple life doing what you love without expectations of reward, how wonderful is that? No pressure. No deadlines. Just living and creating what you want to create in your own time for your own pleasure. Think about that.

Before you put too much pressure on yourself to become more successful at writing, music, business, or anything, remember, you only get one life. Do what you love whether others accept it or not.