Torn Between a Turtleneck and a Paycheck — Writing for Love, or Money?


Is writing like breathing to you?  Did you feel you were destined to become a writer ever since you could pick up a crayon?  And, most importantly, do you own a beret?      

There are many writers who tirelessly follow their inner-muse, writing poetry, short stories and novels — using their own blood and tears as ink.  A magnetic force deep inside their literary souls compels them to preserve words on paper whether anyone else ever reads their work or not.  These writers are called  “artists” who “pay homage to their craft.”  And, with all of that paying, these writers are also called something else — “poor.”      

The sad state of the industry is that unless you’re a well-known or best-selling author, creative writing alone probably won’t allow you the financial freedom you need to buy a house, raise a family, or…eat.  If you’re a writer who wants to make an actual living at writing, sometimes you must go-eth where opportunity knocks.  Yes, my literary friends, I’m talking nonfiction.  I’m talking magazines.  I’m talking corporate writing.  I’m talking (stay with me) viewing your writing as a business!     

Believe me, I would love to sit and write fiction and poetry all day (every day), discussing the many (many, many) layers of character depth and plot dynamics with all who cared to listen.  But, with four kids and the ever-approaching college years upon us, I recently had to re-evaluate my writing mind-set.    

When I first started submitting my work, I dabbled in everything — short stories, poems, service articles and essays.  However, my main interest was on writing fiction — a market with fewer chances of publication, and less available dollars, too.  Now, I’ve shifted that focus a bit to accommodate my family’s needs, and a desire to get paid for something that I love.    

Changing your focus isn’t easy: How do you give up your visions of black turtlenecks and a broody demeanor without feeling like you’re selling out on your creativity?  No, it’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone.  Some are born to be starving artists, but I was getting hungry.     

See...Turtleneck AND money!

There are a lot of resources out there to help those who are thinking about getting serious with their freelancing.  I’ve added a few links to get you started.  One book that helped me jump-start my career, and emphasizes the change of mentality necessary for such a switch is Kelly James-Enger’s, Six Figure Freelancing, The Writer’s Guide to Making Money.  The first sentence of her book was the kick in the pants that I needed, “I believe all writers fall into two categories: writers who simply want to write and those who want to make money doing it.”   He-llooo?  Let’s make some money, people.  Only you can decide which kind of writer you are, or want to become.     

Do I write for love, or for money?  Right now, I’m trying to do both.  I have one foot squarely planted in the smoky, finger-snapping cafe,’ and another in the world of queries and business cards.  I enjoy both kinds of writing — especially when I’m exploring different topics and learning something new.    

No doubt, some of you will achieve great monetary success with your creative endeavors — I hope you do.  I’m still hanging onto that dream myself.  Until then, I’ll be trying to earn a little safety-net along the way.  Say “Hi” to J.K. for me~


I’m curious to know how others with “split-writing-personalities” deal with writing for different venues?  Do you have two separate websites, different business cards, or multiple blogs?  How do you mentally approach each type of writing, or does it matter?  For example, I prefer to write fiction in the morning —  my queries, essays and articles seem to flow better at night.  I also have a more professional website citing specific writing credentials, while this blog is where I like to get a little jiggy.    

I would love to hear any and all thoughts — thank you!

8 thoughts on “Torn Between a Turtleneck and a Paycheck — Writing for Love, or Money?”

    1. I hear you, Barb! I only pitch for work that’s truly interesting to me — MY day job, so to speak. I’ll always write fiction and poetry. Here’s hoping for our big breaks…thanks for your comments~


  1. Hi Amanda!
    Ah the great dilemma; love or money? 🙂
    I say both! And there is nothing wrong with doing something you love and making a living out of it… But, like you pointed out, unless you’re a best selling author, it is not likely that you can. So making a living out of fiction remains a fantasy for the majority.
    I’m hoping to get my MA degree, then hopefully a PhD and stay in the academia, teach creative writing in collage… I love teaching, I believe I’m quiet good at it (I used to teach English as a second language) and it will have something to do with writing… Fingers crossed! 😉


  2. I found your via Lua’s blog and I am so glad I checked out your page. I have been thinking of freelancing myself, whilst I attempt to finish my first novel. The way I look at it, you’re getting paid for doing something you enjoy, so what’s better than that? I don’t know whether it will be something I will enjoy but it’s worth giving it a try 🙂


  3. Thanks for your comments, Agatha82. You might find that you like freelancing. It can be a great fit, especially if you’re an “ideas person.” Good luck!


  4. once i graduate (13 days and counting!!) i’m going to query my novel like a mad woman…and, start looking for some freelance work to make some extra cash. i wish i could take some time off and just write fiction, but the reality is (like you said) a girl’s gotta eat.

    ps- hello again. 🙂



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