Monday, May 09, 2005

Writing Tip: Don’t Do It For The Money

Are you nuts, Paul? Isn’t that the first question you have for me on this topic? Well, maybe I am, but if you are setting out in your fiction writing career with "money" as your main objective, I think you are missing the point. Sure, you need money to eat, money to buy clothes and money to have a shelter over your head. Yes there are exceptions, but I’m not talking exceptions today and those people who need no money to live are most likely not embarking on a fiction writing career. Those individuals are most likely concerned about scrounging for food and making sure the leaves they use after "going number two" are not poison oak or ivy. But I must stress the "fiction" part of the writing for this post as well, because there is really very little money to go around in that field and a great deal of writers producing work. Nonfiction and article writing is another animal, one I’m not covering here so I’ll say no more about it.

So, on to "not" having money as the purpose of your fiction writing labors. Money, and the getting of it, from fiction writing is not a bad side effect, it just shouldn’t be your main goal. Why not? Well, if the making of money is your key motivator in life (and what a sad life you must lead if this is the main reward you are looking for in it), acquiring money from friction writing will probably be the most frustrating thing you will ever try to do. The hours are long, the work is grueling, the recognition is almost nonexistent and the constant rejections and criticisms are just a part of the lifestyle, a big part. If it’s money you want, screw the fiction writing and get a job at the drive through window of Tim Hortons. You will make more money in one day working for minimum wage than you will in two months writing that great fiction short story and selling it to that obscure magazine that will pay you a mere forty dollars for it. Do the math and you will quickly find that you are making anywhere from twenty cents to one dollar per hour. Didn’t kids in the coal mines get paid more than that? (Yes there are exceptions, and people win the lottery every week too? Oh, didn’t you win the lottery this week? Fancy that. Neither did I.)

The point I’m trying to make is that the pursuit fo money as your main goal for fiction writing seems a fairly obvious one when you are beginning to write. I’d say shift your goal perspective and try writing for the love of creating great fiction, telling a interesting story, or entertaining, teaching or amusing others instead of making money. This goal I can tell you will give you far more satisfaction than any cash payout. And if you follow your passion for writing a great fiction story (in the any form you imagine, novel, script, short story, radio play, etc.) you may find that the money might eventually come. But don’t count on it. And if you are writing for the love of writing not money, you will find that if the money comes you won’t really care all that much about it. You will care more about your next creation and the joy it can bring to others.

So, if you will excuse me, I’m off to my morning shift at Tim Hortons. Hey, I’ve got bills just like anybody else. Keep writing that fiction and following your passion. Let your passion for writing be your mian goal and you will find that richer rewards await you in life than money.


  1. Then you have Samuel Johnson, who said " No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."

  2. I have noticed that when I swim I don't need a life jacket.

    I bob like a cork!

    Maybe there is something to what Samuel said. Hmmm. . . .