Let your light shine – how to live a luminous life

When I started Creativindie, I mapped out a 6-step process to Creative Independence. The ultimate goal of that process was Luminosity – becoming a generous beacon, a shining light, helping others achieve their own meteoric rise. I’ve said that this can only be achieved if you’re a successful artist, but this isn’t exactly true.

I haven’t focused on philanthropy yet because in many ways I’m still figuring out my business. I’m jealous with my time so I can build more assets that boost my income – but even though I’m making a good living, I tend to spend it all on new experiments, which means, not only do I not have the financial security I crave, but I’m also not yet ready to focus all my time on bigger projects that help people.

But I’m getting close enough to start thinking about it.

For example, since I don’t have a schedule, it’s pretty easy for me to live anywhere and volunteer more of my time helping causes I believe in. Especially projects that have trouble with branding, publicity, fundraising or awareness (what I’ve learned from online business would make me a valuable asset to any organization).

My platform is also growing, and while I don’t really like the idea of asking my platform to support worthy causes I care about, I could still be at least raising awareness and opening important discussions.

And in this sense, I feel I’m failing. I’ve been too focused on the business, on the growth. Trying to make a full-time, passive income so I can spend 100% of my time on bigger, meaningful projects that inspire me and help make the world a better place. That’s what I’d like to be doing. But I shouldn’t wait until I have more money or feel more secure. I need to start building luminosity into my normal routine.

It was a mistake, I’m realizing, to put it at the end of my six-step process.

It was a mistake to assume that artists and authors who aren’t already making a good living don’t have time or money to invest in helping others.

And it was a mistake to be so quiet about this essential piece of my brand. I didn’t want to be selling my ideology or personal beliefs, so I focused on the practical matter of helping others with concrete, specific tools and resources they can use to see the success they crave (that’s a large part of my brand: I don’t want to just say “You can do it if you try hard enough!” because that’s bullshit. Effort doesn’t always equal reward, if you don’t know what you’re doing or how to package, market and sell your work).

I feel like maybe I’ve had a lampshade on, hiding myself so I don’t offend. 

Waiting until I’d proven myself so that people would take me seriously.

Feeling inadequate, insecure.

Maybe that’s because I hadn’t worked through the whole process yet. My six-steps were the trail of creative independence I wanted to blaze, but it’s taken years and years of effort and learning.

Now that I’m reaching the “end” of my journey (being completely free of “work” and still making enough to live on) I’m a little like the hero of The Alchemist, realizing the quest for my treasure had taken me on a great adventure, but that all I had been seeking was actually at my point of origin.

I haven’t gotten all of this figured out yet, but I hope this is a shift in my thinking that you will probably notice as my brand evolves from this point forward. I would like to…

A) Interact more with the communities I’m living in. We travel a lot and should be much more engaged and involved with our host communities. I could do this, for example, by holding some ‘entrepreneur’ meetups and help local small businesses build their bottom line or see more visibility.

B) Continue serving the writing community, but focus especially on helping teen writers or being involved in literacy programs. Focus a little less on writing as entertainment, and a little more on writing as a tool for expression, communication and healing.

C) SAVE. Making lots of money doesn’t matter much if you don’t save and invest it. Start saving more, so I can give more.

First, I need to finish two more courses on book marketing, about half a dozen new novels, and tighten up all my funnels and processes. But from then on, my content and material will be more broadly focused on the core message of my brand and platform: that creativity is a gift to be shared, and that creative people have the power to make things better.

I’m putting this out there so you know my intentions, and also so I can stay true to them.

Two quotes come to mind.

What Alan Badiou called “fidelity to the event” and the trite “those who stand for nothing fall for anything.”

I was disillusioned by the terrible advice to “follow your passion” because I learned (through my own experiences, and those of the thousands of authors and creatives I’ve worked with) that passion has less to do with success than the market, branding, positioning and sales. And I don’t think passion without success is necessarily anything to celebrate. Everybody has passion. What does it matter if you’re not improving the lives of those around you?

Arguably, success without passion is better, because you have more control over your own life and will start having the time and resources to think about more than your own pressing needs. I know a lot of passionate people who believe in what they’re doing, but have been at it for years and still aren’t making any money (actually it’s often the people who believe that “passion leads to profits” that have the most trouble seeing the results they’re craving). These are the people who rarely have time to help others, because they’re too busy trying to chase their next sale. Instead they keep asking other people to help or support them, because they haven’t figured out the business side of things yet.

Of course, if you can achieve it, a passion-based business full of ideals that is making a practical difference in the world and also earning money would be especially nice.

I think it’s necessary to focus on providing value to others (even if it means doing something you don’t love – I don’t believe the world owes you a living or should provide for you so you can focus on doing what you enjoy all the time). And I do enjoy what I do. I’m just starting to realize I’m missing a why. Besides making my wife and I comfortable, who are we helping? What does it matter? Where do we go from here?

These are things I want to begin to tackle over the next few years.

About Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a book designer with a Ph.D. in Literature. He's been featured on CNN and spoken at dozens of writing conferences around the world. These days he mostly writes young adult fantasy and science fiction, while helping authors build profitable publishing platforms. Find me
  • Cory Reynolds

    I find this article refreshing! I’m also tasked with putting a purpose to my efforts (one that isn’t purely selfish) but I don’t really think about that enough. I know it’s more than just putting food on the table, and entertaining a crowd, but I’m in danger of never doing more than that if I don’t define and remind myself of the bigger picture on a regular basis.

  • Well, here’s an alternate idea for you, in terms of having a why.

    Writing means the world to me. It really has been the difference between having a life worth living–and not. I’m not going to go into great personal detail, but I think most people spend some time in that place, so you’ll know what I mean.

    It’s not enough for me just to write the books. I’ve done that. Written eight novels, three collections, and many more miscellaneous short stories, just because I needed to write something new, and editing eleven books doesn’t happen overnight. I love the craft of writing and editing.

    But it needs to be more. I need to share them with people and find my audience. Desperately. This isn’t a hobby for me. It’s the reason I wake up in the morning. I write stories that I hope will make people believe in hope again (or at least I will edit them until they damn well get there).

    That’s what certain books did for me. That’s what I want my books to do for my readers. And you’re helping me do that, because if my work vanishes into an Amazon oblivion, there wouldn’t be much point to the whole thing. I’m sure many more writers feel the same.

    Don’t know if this will help, but I’m hoping that it will.

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