No Money… Are You Really A Writer? Part 1 of 12

I know that a lot of people want to make money with their writing, and most people want to be able to have some success.  I have to agree that it is easy to write a book, but it is not hard to make money after you publish a book.  However, that being said, there are many who feel that if you don’t make money with your writing, or your books, are you really a writer?  I was sent an email with this thought in mind.

“To suggest to such a degree that writers are anyone who writes is absurd. The only possible way to prove oneself as a writer is to make enough money to be self sustaining. Otherwise, there is no hope for the “writing career” of said writer. Only jokers are willing to sacrifice themselves for a dream. To many people fancy themselves writers and spend time poking at a computer. They don;t have a job to refer to, other than their dream. I say again it is a dream… no money they are not a writer, they are a dreamer. Dreamers need to come down from their clouds and get a real job. I suspect that writers who don’t make money have someone who backs their delusions up…. I repeat again all writers without money are dreamers.”

I’m sorry to those who needed to get off the floor from surprise I should have warned you. It is an interesting email to say the least. The important thing that this person so strongly suggests is that writers must look out for is the bottom line. By this I suppose it means that writing should be on a budget, one for all and all for one, and all for money.

WRONG. There is so much more to writing than money. Of course, each writer needs to remember not to give it away for free all the time, but it’s not easy to make a living on something that snowballs over a long period of time.  The other thing is that you have to publish more than one book.  There aren’t many writers who make money with one book, but there are a lot of writers who earn money by publishing more than one book.

If you follow my line of thinking, you are a writer, and you are one who wants to write, and you have a dream to publish a book. Not to many will give you a chance to showcase your work until you get experience, call it volunteer work if you will, (writing online is one way to do this) so that when you become more shall we say experienced, you get paid for your efforts, not much but some, then more and more.  After a while, earning income becomes second nature.

But that is just my own little idea. Writing is more than money, it’s about passion about soul, about heart. Money is great, but it doesn’t make me a writer. Before I publish I don’t have much money with my writing, and it won’t change me as a writer when I have a book published.

My Question for you today is this: What makes a writer in your mind is it because you make money or because you have something to say?


  • PrettySiren

    Honestly, I believe anyone who writes fiction or nonfiction (that aren't tweets) is a writer. Writer is a very broad term that can encompass many things from the struggling artist to the mega successful, like JK Rowling. You don't have to be rich to be a writer. You just have to have thick skin and do what you love.

    That person's email really irks me. And since this isn't my blog, I don't really feel like I have to be diplomatic when I fire back (though I will keep things civil).

    Personally, I lie somewhere in the middle of the "writer" spectrum, per that email author's argument. Yes, I make good money by writing. Granted, I'm not mega rich. On average, I make enough to buy a couple of nice outfits and groceries for my family. Really, as a twenty-year-old who lives with her family, that's all the money I really need right now.

    My writing world is divided into two categories: non-fiction articles that are profitable and novel-length fictional works that are more art than anything that I *hope* will be profitable (as in, at the very least, read by people other than myself).

    Yes, the non-fiction makes more right now. But I'd never give up on writing fiction, even if I never struck it rich like JK Rowling or Steven King. Why? Because I love writing; it's in my blood, and it will never go away. And that, really, is the biggest thing that makes me a writer.

  • Rob

    A writer, in my book,(no pun intended) is anyone who has spent time working on an idea passionately to the point where they just couldn't let it go. Passion is what makes a writer. It's never about the money. It's a nice thought. But not one to aspire to. People say they aspire to be writers, not filthy rich writers. Plus, if someone is writing just for the money, it will show and it will be terrible. I think stephen king mentioned that in his memoir On Writing: Never write for the money.

  • jenniferneri

    I just posted similarly at the beginning of the week. Do I think making money from your writing makes you a writer? Nah.
    If anything, it makes you a professional author, instead of an aspiring one.
    it is amazing how many different takes there are on this.
    I think each person defines what makes them a writer themselves.

  • Geekomancer

    I couldn't disagree more with the email you got. To say that you need to make money at it to be a writer flies in the face of the many who didn't gain any recognition until after they died. Does that mean that these people were only writers posthumously?

    What makes you a writer, is that you write. Period.

  • AmberInGlass

    Well…I started to comment here and it ended up I had so much to say about this that I posted it on my own blog. Please read my thoughts on this matter by heading over to my blog.

  • Cindy

    Wow, I have a lot to say on this topic, but I appreciate you posting that e-mail. It's interesting what other people think of writing and how it fits into one's life as a career.

    I'll keep it simple and say writing for a purpose, writing for a potential career, and writing to reach people makes me a writer. The terminology can change with being published or making more money but…well, maybe that's left for another comment. Interesting!

  • Becky

    It's a modern day Samuel Johnson!

    A writer is an artist who works with words as their medium. Is a painter not a painter or a sculpter not a sculpter unless they make a living at it?

    I don't know what it is, but writers tend to be treated differently from other artists. When I tell people I like to draw they never ask if I've ever had a gallery exhibition. If I tell them I like to write they immediately want to know if I've been published.

    But this person is holding a scale even more restrictive than the 'you have to be published to be a writer' attitude I meet. They are saying "you have make a living at writing" to be a writer.

    If that's true then the world is rather short on writers since even most published authors require other sources of income.

    I'm an artist (albeit a mediocre one) because I draw. I'm a writer (and I hope a better writter than visual artist) because I write. Sure I'd like to think it'll sell but even if it doesn't I'll plod right along doing it because I enjoy it.

  • BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning

    A writer is someone who writes. That was easy. LOL. Apparently this person has never thought about self-employment where building a business takes time and effort and even the government allows a certain percentage of business loss for several years before the self-employed person makes plenty of money. Would you tell a new plumber who has not yet built clientelle that he was not a plumber? Tell, him as he sits on the floor while leaning under your sink covered in smudge that he is a dreamer becauses he is not making the big bucks in his first year. Ridiculous. I wonder, would your emailer consider the authors of the Bible writers? I'll bet they made no money of what they wrote. In fact, many sufffered for their authorship. Well, at least your emailer provided us a chuckle for the day.

  • Mel M. M. McCarthy

    ICK. :O) Reeks of the "scribbler" philosophy that could have kept greats such as the Brontës, Woolf, Dickinson & so forth from producing such brilliant works. It's an established truth–to the point of being a grand cliché–that many writers/artists go unappreciated in their time, monetarily or otherwise. If you write, huddled in your closet, with an eyeliner, on your legs, you are a writer!


    Yeah , I have heard that before: "If you're not making money, your writing talent is a burden!"
    I love writing and I follow the urge whenever I get a flash of inspiration. Money or no money,readers or no readers, followers or no followers!
    A writer is someone who gives pleasure to others by the unique ability to weave words and sentences together to create a "screen" on which the world can "see" the written word.
    It would be nice to make lots of money from something 1 ENJOY doing. I intend publishing some of my half or quarter-written books, some day. But when I do, I would enjoy publishing books which I had FUN writing ; not for fame or money.
    – Tina.

  • Anonymous

    I know that I am a writer because it's what I need to do. I have a little bit of skill, but mostly inspiration, hope and drive, and I think that's what makes me a writer. Many people are so cynical to believe that writing has to be a career. If you want to have a career as a writer, then yes, you have to make money. But if you have to write because it's the only way you can get the part of you that's actually worth something, seen and out on the table, then I think you're a writer. It's idyllic, but isn't that what art is all about? Bohemianism and naivete

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