Monday, February 13, 2017

For Love or Money?

The past three years were challenging to say the least. From a pileup of rare autoimmune diseases, to a cancer scare, then nearly dying from an emergency operation, my body was under siege. Then my husband retired and we moved from one state to another.

The demands on my time were endless. I barely had time to breathe much less write. My vacillation on whether to continue writing didn't start there, but it certainly escalated.

With the move, my writing peeps were now a two-hour plane ride away and I didn't have high hopes of finding a tribe in my new location.

The hubs and I had always dreamed about how we would travel Europe once we had the free time. Due to pharmaceutical tethers and an uncooperative carcass, that is unlikely to happen now.

However, living in the land of eternal summer, there are so many things to do and a new social whirl that eats up the time between doctor visits. Not to mention our new 24/7 togetherness. Gone are the twelve to fourteen hour days of alone time with the cats and a laptop. Two workaholics attempting "retirement" is certainly an interesting social experiment.

As a result, I find myself asking: What is the best use of my remaining time?

I have never made a lot of money off my writing. Mainly because marketing and publicity are things I just don't have the passion for. I always joked that I didn't care about fame and didn't need the money. But the truth is, I have a deep-seated dislike for being the center of attention. I have always preferred giving rather than receiving. Although passionate about the topics, I have never been comfortable talking in public and am not a natural teacher. As an INTJ personality type, I have always preferred my intellectual fortress over the messy real world.

What has remained consistent is my love of the work and the desire to help other people. When people tell me I have helped them, it is the greatest compliment.

Last month, I had pretty much decided to walk away from writing entirely. But it isn't that easy. The ideas continue to arrive. The muses bug me every time I am alone: in the shower, at the wheel of the car, sitting in medical waiting rooms. I still love the work. Perhaps it is the addiction, but I find it difficult to stop cold turkey.

I always had the plan to write a workbook for each genre covered in Story Building Blocks I: The Four Layers of Conflict. So this year, I am plunging ahead and adding fourteen genre workbooks to the series. Nonfiction is easy for me.

So I decided that even if I don't make much, it isn't costing me anything but time. I still have the love of work and if I help even one writer it is worth it.

I am not alone in the internal struggle over whether to write for love or money or whether writing is a suitable use of my time if I am not raking in J. K. Rowling's cash.

Writing can be time spent in happy occupation. You can still use your skills to help and entertain other people.

More importantly, with the world in chaos, there has never been a more urgent time for writers to use their voices to make a difference.

I can't tell anyone else what to do. I can only pose the question: Since there is no guarantee of money, is it worth your time to write for the love?



Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

15 comments :

  1. YES! Absolutely, writing is worth your time, your effort, your sharing of the unique gifts you bring to the literary table. Much of your article resonated with me, Diana. I've given up writing for long periods of time in the past, sometimes years. But those muses are indeed a vocal lot. You state that nonfiction is your love and your outlet. Mine is fiction. Our purpose of reaching out to entertain as well as to help others, however, is the same. Thank you for sharing this piece. You're an inspiration to keep moving ahead with writing even when the painful, aging body is uncooperative and the mind is tired. Well done! :-)

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    1. We need books to entertain us during stressful times more than ever.

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  2. After getting stiffed while writing for money, writing for love is now my default. Hearing that you've reached someone and helped them is, as you said, the greatest compliment. I salute you, my fellow hospital warrior!

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    1. Books have gotten me through some rough physical challenges.

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  3. This post resonated with me, too, Diana. I have struggled with health and life issues for the past three years, so I know the tension that puts on writing time. To me, it isn't a question of writing for money or writing for love, I just have to write. Some of what I write never sees the light of day, but I just have to put those words about that topic down on paper - or in a computer file. LOL

    And I also have that nagging little voice that reminds me that I really should decide how I want to spend whatever years I have left. Of course, one never knows for sure how many years are left, but when you reach a certain age you know they are getting fewer and fewer. So I have recently made a decision to do fewer things that pull me away from writing, like all my responsibilities at the local art center, and put that time toward writing.

    Glad you have decided to do something that fills you with satisfaction.

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    1. Even journaling is a worthy use of time. One of the best forms of therapy I know of.

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  4. I've come to the conclusion that writing keeps my mind occupied, keeps it working, and I love making up stories. There was even a time when I made money, but that isn't the case any longer. Finally, I don't know what else I'd do with my time. I've worked my whole life, traveled enough in the past to cure my yearnings, and now it's my turn, kind of. I love the conclusions you've come to. Here's hoping your health remains stable, and you can do whatever you want. Cheers to you.

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    1. Everyone has hobbies and interests that they are passionate about. Writing fits the bill for many of us. :)

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  5. I don't need the money either, but I also don't love the actual process of writing all that much. But, like you, I believe it's the fastest and best way to get my ideas out there. Why I think THAT's important, I'm not sure. LOL. It's a dilemma.

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    1. You never know who you will touch or help with your words. Keep putting them out there.

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  6. We seem to be in a similar place, Diana. I think my lethargy stems from getting older and losing way too many family members over the last 16 months. Trying to regain focus to write is hard. It's easier to sit and crochet endless granny squares. However, as you said, the ideas keep coming (especially while I'm crocheting) and sooner or later I'll head for the computer and write. I don't have high hopes of making money, but it would be fun to win a book award or get a great review.

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    1. I have had a few fan letters over the years. They bring tears to my eyes.

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  7. Thanks soo much Diana! I am writing a non-fiction book called 'MY CALL TO WRITE"-- Excerpts and Essays from a Writers Journal. I like you am not too fond of marketing. UGH! Id prefer to WRITE WRITE WRITE!! I self published three poetry books recently--mainly for ME to express.I also have a memoir half -written about my life in showbiz, survivng an aabusive hubby, panic disorder etc. I most definitely write for ME but I also have this deep longing to share my story to somehow inspire (help?)others. I have more ideas for upcoming books and esays almsot DAILY now. I even wrote an article about my frustration with 'social media marketing' recently on my blog. www.michellemonet.com/blog

    Thanks much for sharing. I could relate so much to you.

    I MOST DEFINITLEY believe in writing for passion over money. Every author I read about this subject agrees. If you wanted to do something for MONEY go be a banker!haha

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  8. Definitely should have gone into banking, ha ha ha.

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  9. I write because something inside me makes me do it. Marketing didn't used to enter into the equation, but now it's a part of getting my books known. It's a huge distraction and costly, and so far not that effective. I'm not getting rich off of writing, but it's my obsession.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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