Why do we do what we do?

I came across this post about motivation from one of the guys behind Basecamp*. The thrust of the article is that too many people are obsessed with the process of building a business simply to get rich. The post is about the Silicon Valley, but it could just as easily be about art and design.

It seems today that designers have been successful making their side project a full time gig.** And so it seems that every side project is a failure if it doesn’t eventually become a full time job. 

At times, I’ve forgotten why I started Sketchbook B. I’ve started paying too much attention to web traffic and font sales. But the goals for Sketchbook B have never been about building an audience, selling ads or making money. It’s all about experimenting and having fun.

One of the goals for Sketchbook B was to give me a chance to write more, but I wasn’t writing consistently. So recently I started to post daily. I made the decision to try a publishing schedule to force myself into a routine because I wanted to get more disciplined about writing.

After a couple of weeks though, my weekly page views were pretty much unchanged. I wondered if it was worth the effort. No one new was reading. But I came across Matt Gemmell’s post about “blogging” and I remembered that page views aren’t the point. Writing was the point. And I’m enjoying my site more in the last few weeks than I have at any time since I started it in 2008.

I’ve come to the realization that “side project” might be the wrong term for what I do. Maybe “passion project” is a better phase. I write, design type and experiment because I love design and creativity. My typefaces and other random projects were never intended to be a full time job. I’m looking to be creative in ways that I can’t be at work.***

Sketchbook B is simply my creative outlet, and I'm proud of that.

* I’ve used Basecamp for years. And I was a devoted user of Backpack before 37 Signals phased it out. :(

** It probably seems that way because so many people were starting side projects during the recession.

*** I seriously have the best day job.