Are You Writing for Money? Or for Passion?

Creative writers all should ask this question to themselves. I see most of the writers are out there coming to the world of writing, just for money. They see the success of writers like John Grisham, James Patterson, and Stephen King, and believe that novel publishing is a lucrative business and a ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme. That’s why there is a big failure rate in this world. Statistics looks different from what you see.

On the racks of bookstalls of the US and the UK, every year appears an average of 200,000 books. In a year, not even 1000 of them come up to the bestseller lists. It means the success falls in a fraction of 0.005. Can you call such a business lucrative?

The reason why writers fail is not because they don’t have talent or they don’t have knowledge. It’s mainly because they don’t choose what to write, or more specifically, they write for money.

Yes, your aim is in the very end, money and fame. You still have to pay that mortgage, you still have tax, and you still have to manage your household. And your only resource is your novel.

It is with an obscure idea that writers jump into novel writing. It’s a bad idea not to research your viability. Before you begin writing your first novel, I suggest you not quit your day job. The number of writers who just quit their day job and jump into their first work of fiction is staggering. This is the first mistake any new writer should avoid.

Secondly, ask yourself the most important question: Are you writing for money or due to passion? The passion for writing is something that is inborn or developed through consistent writing. Though you may have love for writing, it may not well be a passion. You have to ask yourself whether you will keep writing after your first novel breaks selling records. This is a simple question that will tell you whether you have passion for it or not.

Recently, one book that I read gave me an idea of writing passion thus:

If you picture yourself, sitting at your desk, tapping on your typewriter, after being successful with novel writing, instead of standing amidst a crowd of fans, signing books and autographs, then you have passion for writing.
It is what I ask you do. Try to see what you will be doing after a year from publishing your first book. If you write with great pain, then you may well be born for another job.

Still, writing is work, writing can be work. It can be painful, though not always. It is painful when you don’t know what to write—when you are in writer’s block. It is a different aspect. My point is, you have to understand when you go into writer’s block. Don’t mistake it for not having passion for writing. Also, you may start a new novel with a lot of passion and after one or two chapters of writing, you may feel that it is not going anywhere and stop. This may also be the outgrowth of writer’s block. Writer’s block gives you the feeling that writing is sort of work, hard work. On the other hand, when you are out of this block, you may well feel that it is fun to write.

Another aspect is your genre. Many writers start writing in a popular genre like crime thrillers, horror, suspense stories, SF, etc. I have always had great doubt that new writers targeting these genres are mainly looking for money and fame. There is a general feeling in the community that genres like drama, family-related stories, etc., have no sale value. On the other hand, the fact is that there is audience for every genre out there. A crime thriller won’t be well sold to family audience. A drama may not be sold to a suspense enthusiast. And a detective story cannot entertain a military novel enthusiast. So, ask yourself which genre you prefer the most to write in.

So, before you jump into this profession do these simple tasks:

1. Ask yourself what you really care about. Is it really creative writing?

2. Ask yourself, are you writing for money or for your pleasure?

3. Which genre of stories do you really prefer to write and why? Horror? Suspense? Crime? Thriller? Or Romance? Which genre would you rather read?

4. Understand and fight writer’s block, and don’t let it make you feel that you have no passion for writing.

5. Don’t quit your day job before publishing your first three novels. Publishing is a tricky business. Your first novel may be successful, but not the second and third.

6. Always make sure you have an additional stream of income.

7. Be prepared to revamp your habits and routine.

Conclusion

There you are, writer! I believe every new writer should read this checklist. I believe that every one of us is born with a passion or another. So, if not writing, you are sure to excel in another field. The idea is to check which field holds your passion.

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

4 Opinions:

  1. It's true! When writing for money (rather than because it's a passion, or about something you are passionate about) your results won't be as good. Unless, of course, you are writing about writing about making money!

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  2. I never went into it with the idea of making it a full time job, but more with the idea of having a second job/hobby that I would feel very comfortable in doing.

    The passion is still there and if I can sell at least 10 copies of anything that I write, then that's at least 10 known people who were interested enough in me as a writer to take a chance.

    And that's all that one can really ask for: a chance.

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  3. You have it 100% correct. With everything so overpowered these days, starting off as a writer in any field is more then difficult. It is almost a downright suicidal attempt to create magic. What makes it worth your while to put the pen to the paper and pour your heart out? The desire to amuse, to enlighten, to take away stress or to teach something to someone else. With other words the joy you can bring and the pleasure it bring to you, the writer. My dream is to be a full time writer who can earn enough money to make it decently, but my reality is that I am still an amateur writer, scratching barely at the surface of literary greatness. So who can tell the outcome, but I know I love the journey!

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  4. I'm writing for both. I intend to make my living by writing. Maybe that's presumptive of me to think I'll be successful, but I am a good writer, and I will make a living off my writing if I have to bust my tail to do it, because it's what I enjoy.

    If you can quit your day job, do so. Most people can't. I'm at a place in my life where I can, and I have. 90% of my waking day is devoted to my writing, and when you put that much time into something, you get a lot done.

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