In nearly any realm of niche interest on the internet where productivity is a factor, it’s common to see all kinds of motivational posts created specifically for that niche. While I myself love motivational quotes, especially those garnered more towards writing endeavors, there is one specific word that drives me crazy every time I see it used: Hustle.
Note: Please keep in mind that is is an opinion piece, and it is not the Gospel. Please read this with an open mind. Not everyone who likes and/or uses the word “hustle” is a “bad seed” in my eyes; my personal problem with the word derives from the cult-like mindset it has seemed to infiltrate in the creative communities. My issue is on a large-scale, not a person-by-person case.
Hustling Smothers Creativity
Hustle is a word that, by its very definition, carries a negative and forceful connotation. Oxford Languages defines “hustle” as:
1. [VERB] “Force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction.”
2. [VERB] “obtain by forceful action or persuasion.”
I don’t know about y’all, but forcing myself to do anything, especially a creative outlet like writing, rarely produces my best work. Yes, sitting down to hone your craft every day can produce quantitative success, but how is its quality?
One of modern society’s greatest downfalls, in my opinion, is a shifted focus to increased output rather than creating original, organic content. Have you noticed upwards of 75% of the films that have released over the past few years have been either remakes or sequels? Mainly slightly tweaked carbon copies of media that once set the standard for quality entertainment, but that is now being beaten like the dead horse it is. Why?
For financial success. Those films are known money makers. So, instead of doing the more difficult thing and brainstorming and creating something new, modern filmmakers are hustling to milk the cash cow for all it is worth. The faster they produce, the more insta-money they’ll make.
Hustling Has Tainted Authorship
So, that was a random tangent. What does all that have to do with why I hate the word “hustle”? Because, from an author’s standpoint, the “hustle” mindset has shifted the market to where authors now feel as if we have to mass-produce books and write to market to make any royalties. Observing the author community on social media, I hate to say it, but it really seems like, especially in the contemporary romance genre, that the exact same types of books are written and published on repeat, and the ones that do so are making the most money. Just like Hallmark Movie writers, I’ve noticed some authors pick tropes to write about, because they’re tried and true and they know readers will eat it up, and hustle to write and publish their books as fast as possible. These, again, I hate to say it, carbon-copy books are always the top-sellers in every category. The top 100 books all look identical due to their eerily similar tropes, content, and even covers. Branding to market is also a factor… but, my main concern is, whatever happened to the creative aspect of writing?
When the creative process is tainted by a “hustle” mindset, where authors are forcing themselves to come up with content good enough to make money as fast as humanly possible, ideas of quality caliber are rarely reached. From personal experience, when I’ve tried to think of a book idea that would best fit “market standards” for my genre of choice, I’ve failed miserably. My heart is never in it.
However, my best book ideas are the ones that have derived naturally, when I allowed myself to slow down, think, and marinate in any and all possibilities. regardless of whether it’s a “market standard” or not. Creative work should be about setting new standards, not copying and pasting what has already been done over and over again for the sake of money. For then, it is no longer creative work, but something more akin to an assembly line in a factory.
Creative work, in my opinion, should not be entered into with a “must produce this as fast as possible to make millions” mindset. If we put that much pressure on ourselves, we’re bound to lead to burnout, decreased interest in our work, disappointment in our work, or even depression. Again, while habit development is a good thing, if for some reason or another we find ourselves needing a break from creative outlets, we should allow ourselves to stop and unwind, to allow our creative wells to refill before punching the timeclock again.
Creative work should be entered into with a mindset of “What has never been done before? How can I show the world my unique perspective and create something new?” That’s the only way quality content will make a return in the quantity-driven markets of this day and time.
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
Do you agree with the concept of “hustling” when it comes to creative outlets? Why or why not?
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.