Episode 157: Don’t Do What You Love!

By CBramkamp Newbie Writers Podcast, Writing Tips Comments Off on Episode 157: Don’t Do What You Love!

The Newbie Writers’ Podcast

Special Guest:  Rachel Nabors

Rachel Nabors

We were intrigued by our guest, Rachel Nabor’s blog post, Don’t do what you Love.

Here is some of that post, originally shared on Medium:

I don’t like advice like “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Not because it isn’t true, but because it’s a monkey’s paw: it’s true under the right circumstances with the right people, and for everyone else, it’s just bad advice.

I used to make comics for a living (these comics, right here), and I gave out similar advice and professed similar goals: If I just tried hard enough, I’d make it doing what I love, making comics for a living. If anyone was less successful then I was, well, they must not have been trying hard enough.

To an extent it worked! I won awards, had hordes of fan girls, a weekly syndicated web comic I got paid for (very well by comic industry standards, too). I thought I was doing great doing what I love.

And then it all ended.

I needed surgery.

And I didn’t have health insurance.

Almost overnight the series shut down. My fans and friends ran a Herculean donation effort for me, but it wasn’t enough. I quit comics and went into web development, something I’d enjoyed doing to support my web comics presence, but I wouldn’t say Iloved it. Not then.


After five years in web development I’m at the top of my game. People from around the world ask me to speak their conferences. I live in a great city where I’m starting my second company, Tin Magpie. Even if I fail or have a medical emergency, I can easily pick up good, paying work, and make more in one weekend than I did on my 60 hour comics work weeks. I love what I do. And it loves me back.

Comic layout experience is very useful not only in designing user interfaces, but also in showing how you aced designing those interfaces.

But my first love, comics, gives me an edge in this industry. If I’d just gone straight into web development because it seemed like a money-maker, I wouldn’t be half as excited about what I can do or as interesting to others in my field. I and my community are better for the years I spent making comics, even if it wasn’t a successful career choice.

But, if I’d kept “doing what I love” in the industry that didn’t love me back, I would have never realized that there are other, more profitable, things I love.


In Starting Point: 1979~1996, Hayao Miyazaki writes that many young animators are huge fans of the art. They want to dive right into animation as soon as they graduate high school. You’d expect him to utter some platitudes about doing what you love, starting early, etc. But no. He insists that you should go to school and study and enjoy life for four years. Why?

Once involved in the business of creating animation, the truth of the matter is that you wind up working on project after project and rarely have time to read, study, or to come up with great ideas. And then the question invariably arises: “Why am I creating animation? What am I doing this for? Is it just to make a living?”

(I wish someone had told me that when I decided to make comics instead of going to college. It’s a lot more nuanced than “just do what you love and money will follow!”)

I  started making comics when I was 17. At first I made them for gURL.com for a little bit of money, but eventually they hooked me up wit ha weekly contract. This income allowed me to move out on my own and start my life, and I’m eternally grateful to the fans who supported me. But it wasn’t enough. I had to get jaw surgery and needed health insurance, so I used the skills I’d gained publishing comics online to launch my career as a web designer.

I still make comics in my spare time.”


Those of us with happy childhoods have to make up a certain amount of angst just to get real emotions into the pages of our novels. Go back and write up some happy childhood memories for your main character. I believe that joy can inform character as well as tragedy. What was that for your character? What was joy for you?

Tortured Sentences:

[From the Salt Shaker, newsletter of the First Presbyterian Church of Hamilton, Mass.]

The ladies of the church have cast off clothes of every kind and they can be seen in the church basement on Friday afternoons.

Word of the Week:

From  A.Word.A.Day  with Anu Garg




adjective: Interchangeable.

When you lend someone a dollar bill, you don’t care if he returns the same bill or a different one because money is fungible. Same with things such as gold, a cup of sugar, etc. However, if you lend someone your cell phone, you wouldn’t be pleased if he returned a different phone even if it’s exactly the same model. That would be an example of something nonfungible.




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