Doing what you love

The ABC of doing what you love (according to a recovering perfectionist control freak)…

A is for Admit it

  • You’ll spend many, many years (even decades) pretending that you don’t even know what you love. When you think about writing, dancing, acting, growing bonsai trees, you’ll call the thing you love ‘silly’, ‘frivolous’, ‘unrealistic’. From the day I wrote my first story about the ducks in St James Park, I knew that writing could unlock a magical world of possibility. But I refused to say it was something I wanted to do until a foolhardy day last year when I started this blog. In order to start doing what you love, you have to admit it’s what you love.

B is for Bills

  • Once you’ve grudgingly admitted ‘fine, I love writing. Now leave me alone’, you’ll instantly back out of any obligation to do it by asking, ‘but will it pay the bills? No? In that case I obviously can’t do it.’ But, as the great guru of creativity, Elizabeth Gilbert tells us, it’s not saying, ‘thank you for noticing me. Now I’ll take care of all your financial needs.’ It doesn’t have to be your job. You can do it as a hobby. The thing you love doesn’t have to make you famous and it doesn’t owe you a living.

C is for Commit

  • Here’s the unsexy truth: doing what you love doesn’t feel like love a lot of the time… not the hand holding, skipping through cornfields kind anyway. It often feels like work. It often feels like you’re doing a shocking job of it. I regularly want to take my writing, grind it up and feed it to my dog. But I don’t because 1. I like my dog and 2. my writing and I have an agreement: I will show up to it every day. And in return it will tolerate my insecurities, doubts and temper tantrums.

Deciding to do what you love isn’t easy for everyone especially if you need to know exactly where it’s going and be good at it straight away. It isn’t easy but it does make you feel whole. You and the thing you love take turns kicking each other’s butts like five year olds having a pillow fight.

And something about showing up to do that every day is all kinds of fun.

Start with the love and then work very hard and try to let go of the results […] Please try, also, not to go totally freaking insane in the process


As the great poet Jack Gilbert said once to [a] young writer, when she asked him for advice about her own poems: “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work?

The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say YES.”

Elizabeth Gilbert
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