Writing for Money
As much as I preach about writing for passion, I know that it isn’t a way to make a living. Some people are fortunate enough to be able to write without these burdens. They may have comfortable jobs, or inherited wealth, or a partner that earns enough for the two of them. Now, that’d be a dream.
Yet, we don’t live in an age where only the upper classes get published anymore. The working class do too, and we write very well, thank you. Unfortunately, this means most writers don’t live with the luxury of writing just for the fun of it and it is a passion that takes a lot of time.
This is time that a fair few writers cannot afford if it does not pay for itself. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to find that a lot of writers are eager to get their work published. Some may subsidise their work through journalism or submitting their work to competitions, they may get into screenplays or start as a freelance writer.
There is a lot of commotion for writers; at least I feel I’ve noticed, recently, regarding the amount of ebooks or self-published authors. The advent of technology has made it easier for writers to publish and monetise their writing and, as a result, there are a lot of writers (ones that would’ve gone unnoticed) now able to give their work a platform.
With the bustling need to make money and the ability to publish at the click of a button, I’ll admit that quality of writing isn’t always par. There are a lot of writing critics that are ready to pounce on these vulnerable writers, but I’ll be the first to say that there is no shame in writing for money.
For those who write for money, they may find themselves facing criticism more often than those who do it for passion. This is simply because of the quantity they write and publish. A journalist may see fifty of their articles produced a year on multiple websites spanning different demographics, whereas one passionate writer may take years to show their first draft of a novel or poem.
There are sites in place for writers that need money to help subsidise their work, such as Poets & Writers, which is a long list of writing contests, grants and awards to writers. Some are international, but some are limited to a specific location such as a state or a country. There is also Words of Worth which offers money for articles. Writer’s Digest offers a more comprehensive list of suitable routes to go through when looking for writing work online.
Due to the demand of writers, but also how little writers often get paid, there is an increased pressure in the supply line. No gap must be left unfilled and therefore there is a risk if, not done correctly, the quality of the work might not be managed. Not every writer will face this issue, and the issue is not at the fault of the writer. Writing quickly comes with its own issues; a reason I refuse to call people out on spelling and grammar errors online. These can be typos that can be missed by proofreaders, especially if those proofreaders and editors have their own pressures.
This is an issue that will affect new writers more frequently than veterans. Practice makes perfect. Though, my advice for new writers would be to ignore the urge to write as many articles and essays and novellas or whatever as possible, and focus on quality. Put out a few good quality articles and one may find the work comes knocking. Start with the best you have, and your best will evolve and grow. You’ll naturally start writing faster, but your quality won’t diminish; your writing skills will get the exercise they deserve and the rest is up to you and your management of your own work.
I’d love to say we live in a world where we can dally away into our passions without the fiscal burdens that comes with it, but we don’t. As much as I say I write for passion, my family still ask how I intend to publish or make money from it. I also fret that no matter how much energy I put into my books, they’ll never quite sell if they’re ever published.
It also wasn’t that long ago when I wrote an article on here explaining that we shouldn’t live in a world of creative competition—but we do. This means that writers also suffer for their art form, much like visual artists. What is popular can also bend to the breeze of mainstream gales, and that means a writer that was popular may not stay so.
So, as much as people say they would love to write for money, it really isn’t that easy. It is a skill set that is harnessed through years of trial and error, through studying the readers’ literary fashion trends and adapting their style to suit this. It isn’t a case of sitting home all day and drinking tea, daydreaming up novel ideas and popping out best sellers.
Writing for money can be gruelling, competing with hundreds of other writers in a similar situation. Some will have been doing this dance for years; others will have recently found themselves trying the steps. Just because one doesn’t immediately land on his or her feet doesn’t mean they’ll be doomed. With the vastness of internet space, I don’t doubt there is a niche for everyone.
Writing for money is an incredibly difficult career path to walk, and as such I would even argue that one wouldn’t write for money unless they were truly passionate about it.
Next: Writing for Passion
© 2016 Lannah Marshall
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Sometimes she writes. Sometimes she doesn’t. Either way, she’s not doing what she’s supposed to be doing.