Writing & Money

What is your relationship to money? We tend to accept it as a given that if we create, we will be poor, but what it we challenge that assumption?

I contend that the traits that most often lead us into the arts, or at least into creating fiction, are many of the ones that limit earnings. So often we come to the page or the stage out of need, out of hurt, out of a desire to make things right for ourselves, to find a voice denied us. The higher elements of motivation – creativity and imagination – are the ones to point the way to a more satisfying relationship to money and success.

Can you own your full potential? Are you willing to put everything on the line or do you make excuses for not finishing the short story, the novel, the play, etc.?  For not writing today? We all have 10-15 minutes a day to write no matter what excuse we make. What about not submitting it once it’s done or undercutting yourself to a potential agent or publisher?

First comes the inner work. For much more on this, read Overcoming Underearning and Financial Recovery. Challenge your assumptions about what is possible, not only with your time and your writing, but about what comes after you finish.

The Balkanization of society into fragments is not good for the arts. You’re not exploiting another culture if you explore it, certainly not if you love it. I know a Dutchman who loves Japanese culture so much, he learned Japanese and found a way to live there half the year. Who knows what new ideas and relationships may come out of that? We need each other. We need commonality, communal explorations, not only to find solutions, but to find those intersections where great art resides. You want to make money? Do what you have not dared to do. Go where you have not been. Learn about yourself and your limits. And get your work out into the world. It may not come in the form you expect. Chance are it won’t arrive the way you thought it would, but if you don’t try, don’t risk, you are guaranteed stasis.

Breathe into your fear, your fear of finishing or of failure or of success and experience the alchemy that happens when fear is transformed into excitement and energy. That will fuel the persistence necessary to the creative life. Break through your old assumptions. Now, go write!

2 responses to “Writing & Money”

  1. We all have to do what we can to cope with the ups and downs writing brings us, but I love the idea of casting off the presumption it won’t bring money. I try not to think about profit while writing on a story, as I’ve never been able to guess the market, but I hope to get “out there” with my writing in as many ways as I can. If you’re out exploring the arts and the writing world as much as possible, you never know when a collaboration, an acquaintance or a new idea or opportunity will come your way that could change the game entirely.

  2. It takes years of being underpaid, paid late or not paid at all to overcome the notion that writing is an easy and reliable way to make a living. Then it takes a few more years to get over the bitterness and to learn the patience required to wait out publishing cycles. You just have to write it, release it and get back to writing something else while waiting for the submission to come to fruition. I’m in a place now where I realize that writing is its own reward – and it is in this place where the compensation for the work has become fulfilling and satisfying as new projects and markets arise. If a market doesn’t value me, I off-load it. I just sent off a letter this week cancelling my complimentary subscription to a regional magazine that did not pay me promptly or in full. I’d stopped writing for it, but the mag kept coming in the mail and every time it arrived I felt the anger and outrage rising. I feel much better!

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