Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
My writing is worth money.
Deep breaths, storytellers! I would love to know your answer. You can leave a comment below and tell me. I read every one.
But here’s what I’ve observed during my years mentoring writers. When posed with this question, some—we’ll call them Group A—will immediately protest:
“I just love to write! I don’t care if I make money at it. I do it for me."
“Money would be nice, but really I just want to get something out there and published. That would satisfy me.”
You might find these responses attractively modest, or nobly artistic, or both. If so, you’re probably in Group A.
Then there’s Group B:
“Sure, I’d love to get paid to write! I get story ideas all the time. But I know I can never make a living at it, so I don’t even try anymore.”
Ouch. That’s a hard place to land. But even Group B writers tend to lurk around the writing game. They (maybe you?) read craft books, and join writer-centric Facebook groups, and subscribe to emails like this one.
Occasionally they may even scribble down an idea, or two, or ten....
But then they remember what they’ve already decided, which is that writing is a waste of time. The time and effort it takes will never bear fruit, so why bother?
If you have a hard time justifying making time to write, or tend to nod in agreement when you hear opinions like “it’s impossible to get an agent,” or “publishers are all a scam anyway,” then you might just be in Group B.
So: One group idealistically says it’s not about the money. The other pragmatically asserts that it’s all about the money.
But both groups are basically refusing to take their work seriously, because blah blah money.
Ah, my dear storytellers! Resistance is a tricky thing. Here’s the question that underlies all of these mental contortions:
What is your writing worth?
Is it worth money? Time? Effort? Struggle?
Does your writing deserve readers? How about a spot on the bookstore shelf? Or a spot on the bestseller list?
What is your writing worth to you today, and what might it be worth five years from now? Or ten years from now?
Or a hundred years? Or more?
Knowing what your writing is worth long-term will determine how much time, effort and yes, even money you might be willing to invest into it today.
And since today’s choices are what shape the trajectory of what’s to come, this is an important—maybe even urgent—question to grapple with.
In this week’s livestream, I talk about what our writing is really worth—to us, and to others. How much time and effort is the right amount to invest in our creative work? How do we decide?
I’d love to hear what you think. Please leave a comment and keep the conversation going.