In the mid 2000’s I had the great honor to spend three years studying in the Kennedy Center’s playwright training program. One of the instructors, a Pulitzer winner, dropped a great factoid: in the United States there are zero playwrights who make their full-time living as playwrights. This includes the a fore mentioned Pulitzer winner and the Tony winners that came in to run workshops.
Well wait, you say. What about David Mamet? Tony Kushner? Neil Simon?
In order, movies/TV, movies/TV, and movies/TV.
In the world of theatre, once you build a resume and gain some notoriety, you jump ship. You go to Hollywood and make some money. Or, if you are the ain’t-gonna-sell-out type, you can also act, direct, build sets, or work the box office. If you can do that, you are living the dream.
Here’s my point: what ever you love doing- writing, singing, painting, programming- is not the end goal. The end goal is not to die in a Baltimore gutter with ravens pecking on your ear. The goal is to get amazingly good at your art, your passion, your craft. And then someone else will pay you to do something for them. That probably means either a full on career change or creating a diverse portfolio.
This is awesome news! This means, if you are a creative type, things won’t be boring. You will get unpredictable opportunities. You will live a life your children will be proud of. Chances are, you’ll even make a little money.
But first, you have to get amazingly good.