Writing Against the Odds – Facing Reality and Writing Past It

male hand with pen isolated on white background

So, we all agree. We write, because we love to write. But is love enough to feed us alone?

Possibly, for all the writers who write despite everything, who write for themselves alone,who journal or write that one book they had in them, and don’t worry about anything to do with eating, or success, or accolades.

And for the rest of us – despite the dismal odds, we continue.

Nowadays we live in good writing times. We don’t need to be supported by an English family estate with servants, we don’t have to be of a certain class or education, or have dedicated free time to write. Many writers support themselves with day jobs and use their early mornings, lunchbreaks, or late evenings or weekends to pursue their need to write.

Many others that would have been squashed down by the sheer weight of the traditional publishing system now have other options if they want to go public with their writing.

Of course, this good writing times gives us pause for thought if we are writing to be read by others, as a motivating factor. Because of the sheer weight of competition, and because of some of our expectations perhaps.

Larry Brooks – Help Wanted, Hiring Fiction Writers Now

Coincidentally on the same day that Steven Pressfield came out with his part 3 of Writing and Money series (see yesterday’s post), Larry Brooks at Storyfix.com wrote a tongue-in-cheek post http://storyfix.com/help-wanted-hiring-fiction-writers-now identifying some of the common misconceptions there are in writing by pointing out the reality.

The statistics could be quite frightening (and hopefully put off some of the many people who think writing is easy (if only they had the time / weren’t so busy / fill in excuse here).

Among the many warnings– towards statistics of success, and how many of our Facebook writer friends will even notice we’ve published something — Brooks’ post also gives us this gem: –

Great upside potential.  Publish your own book and you’ll make as much as $500 (that’s gross, not net, after you spend about $800 getting the book ready for Kindle), far above the $200 average.  Publish with a small press and you may make as much as $2500 or as little as a box delivered to your doorstep containing 25 copies of your work.  Become that one out of every 100,000 writers who actually make more than that with a larger publisher, even a Big-6 publisher, who will most likely dump you[r] when you don’t make back your advance, which hardly ever happens.

Brooks points out in his post that start-up costs for even Kindle publishing are prohibitive, if we take some of the recommendations for new authors to heart. If we want professional editing, a pro-designed book cover, a little paid advertising–then we’re going to be in negative figures as a new author without a huge readership already in place.


But we agreed, didn’t we? Writing isn’t about the money, right?

Brooks and Pressfield give us some compelling reasons why it’s not about the money. Because if it was, very few of us could afford to enter the publishing world in the first place, or indeed, could afford to spend time writing.

Yet we do.

Sometimes you get the feeling that admitting you need to write for money is a dirty thing. Like you’re not a “true artist”. But let’s get real here. Artistry is something completely different from also having a business head.

And the calling to artistry is something different again.

Do you agree? Do you differentiate the different sides to you as a writer? Do they have different motivations or reasonings at play?


This post was the second in a 7 post series running from this Wednesday to the next. You can find the index post for all from the series here.

In tomorrow’s post some thoughts by Jeff Goins will suggest what a true calling to write may be. In next week’s posts, there will be more on motivating factors vs a calling.

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