Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's Not Always About the Money

Whenever someone tells you to be practical, you may immediately think, “This is about money.” This may lead you to think that you have to write to get money, and that you have to write to appeal to the people who will give you the most sales and therefore allow you to earn the most money. After all, when you finally get all the money that you want, you can do pretty much whatever you want to do – and for that matter, you can write whatever you want to, right?

I won't say that it's wrong to want money. But when you start writing only to get money, you may end up producing something that is not only up to par with your standards; but something that you might not even want to be remembered by. Granted, not all money-making writing projects are bad or are expected to be badly written. But remember, when money is the only thing that drives you, you can burn out quickly. Your writing can turn into a duty, and not an enjoyable one, at that.

The complete opposite may not be advisable either. Completely eschewing money and writing for free will work only if you already have a lot of money to begin with, are living off your parents, or if writing is a side job for you. The key is to balance your work: you might want to have some paid projects that are not exceptionally brilliant but that pay your rent; and you might want to have some projects that don't cover the bills, but that you enjoy doing nevertheless.

When you write something for the money, try not to think about getting just the money, but actually reaching out to your audience. Chances are, you can get more writing jobs in the future and you can fatten your wallet. On the other hand, if you are writing something that you enjoy, try to avoid thinking about what to write to earn the most money. Remember, you have to enjoy writing. When it stops becoming enjoyable, then you may need to stop writing first and rest.

In the end, you can please no one but yourself. Take a look at your writing, whether you are earning money from it or doing it for the sheer pleasure of writing. Is it good? Would you read it? Would you buy it if it were on your newsstands or on a shelf in your bookstore? Would you borrow it from the library? When you start writing to make yourself happy, then you might just come up with something that people will actually like.

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