The Difference between a Job and a Calling

SAMSUNGMost of us have and/or need jobs. Jobs pay the bills and keep the lights on. But not everyone has a calling, or is even interested in finding out what it might be if they do.

Writers are different.

Almost all writers know they have a calling, and they know their calling is to write.

If you’re not sure of the difference, how can you tell?

Examine your reasons. And then explore your emotions.

Let’s use one of my fictional characters as an example:

Oliver is a writer by night. He writes dark fantasy novels about his hero, Octavio Sash, and his villain, the sinister Letitia von Campidonni. Oliver is passionate about world-building and battle scenes and he stays up late to get more pages down. By day, he works tech support for a corporate cable company. He sits in a call center and answers repetitive phone calls.

Here are Oliver’s reasons behind his choice to work tech support:

He needs to pay rent
He needs to pay all his other bills
He’s had tech support jobs before and so he already knows how to do it
Inertia

Here are Oliver’s emotions about working tech support:

Contentment (sometimes)
Frustration (sometimes)
Apathy (all the time)

You can see that if Oliver’s reasons and emotions were put on a graph, they would probably chart a steady line with a few tiny bumps here and there.

Now here are Oliver’s reasons behind his choice to write:

When he isn’t writing he feels like something important is missing from his life
He has always loved books and is naturally drawn to writing
Making up stories is something his brain does on its own, he can’t stop from doing it

Here are his emotions about writing:

Joy
Excitement
Accomplishment
Pride

…and a dozen others that can be summed up in just one word: Happiness.

If Oliver’s reasons and emotions about his writing were put on a graph, the line would go up and up and up.

Sometimes, too, the line would suddenly plunge down. That’s when Oliver falls into doubting himself or runs into seemingly impossible problems in his story. But when the line starts climbing up again, it climbs even higher than before. That’s because Oliver had to push himself beyond his boundaries, he had to grow, to stick with his calling.

A job that is “just a job” very rarely pushes us to grow. But our calling never stops pushing.

We all have bills to pay. I’m not suggesting you give up your day job. What I am suggesting is that you start giving your calling top priority. Your writing is the thing in your life that brings you joy, and excitement, and that delicious feeling of riding the line to the top of the graph. The most important thing you can do is feed it—with your love, your belief, your time and energy.

You will always find something else to do to pay the rent. You will never find another calling. Writing is it for you, you drew those cards. Own it. Start writing as if it’s the most important thing in your life.

Because it is.

 

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