• Lynn Wallace

My Writing Motivation: Not in it For the Money

It’s one thing to say that you love your job. It’s another thing to say that you love your work, and you do it solely because you love it, not to get paid.

That doesn’t make much sense. Especially in today’s capitalistic world, where everything revolves around money. You have to have an income if you want to pay your bills, put food on the table, have a better life, etc – that all costs something. So when I say that I write because I love it and not because I’m expecting a big payout, it’s totally understandable for you to shake your head and call me crazy.

But it’s true. I write because I feel it’s my calling and part of my purpose in life. And also for the sheer joy that comes from holding a pen in your hand and creating new worlds filled with amazing adventures and better endings than what we can find here on this earth.

Thankfully, I’m happy to do this even if it never earns me a penny ><. I think my writing would suffer for it if I was depending on my books to support me. I’d have to do several things differently if I were actually in it for the mulah. First, I’d end up cutting out all references to faith (religion makes people uncomfortable, you see). I’d increase the romantic tension by adding a little more fluidity between relationships, instead of stodgily setting up one character with another and saying “til death do us part.” (Isn’t that what people love about soap operas? The ridiculous love drama?) I might even have to add a sex scene or two *gasp!* (sex sells, you know). Oh, and lots of violence and drug references – apparently those are popular too ><.

But, I’m perhaps one of the lucky few who aren’t doing this for a paycheck. (I actually have a real part-time job that helps pay our bills, in addition to my husband’s income.) So I don’t write what’s popular – I write what I love. I include God because He is important to me and I want Him to be a part of everything I do. I write relationships that last because that’s what I believe love should be like. Fidelity is a standard that today’s world doesn’t seem to appreciate. And I don’t write sex because honestly, it makes me uncomfortable to pen that stuff. I don’t think it adds to the stories I’m trying to create and I want younger readers to be able to enjoy what I have to offer without feeling awkward. As for drugs and violence – well, I just don’t have enough experience with either to write well about them! XD

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not trying to bash on the folks that do write those sorts of things. There are plenty of markets out there for stories with excessive drama/ sex/ drugs/ violence – if you have bills to pay, if that’s the story you have a gift for telling, then you’d be a fool not to. All stories have value: if not as a good example, then perhaps as a horrible warning :-P. But they’re not my type. I wouldn’t enjoy writing them, I wouldn’t do it well, and I’m thankful I don’t need to. Likewise, I’m not trying to say that stories involving faith or steadfast, sex-free relationships don’t sell. The genre “young adult” is very much geared towards providing its audience with more innocent material. Only, I’m not writing children’s books. You could call it “YA” or “new adult” – my characters are in early adulthood, as opposed to their teen years like most YA fiction. And that age range, combined with the addition of religion and the supernatural (at the same time!) and then the absence of sex (a particularly dumb decision for romantic fiction), isn’t the smartest formula for gaining an audience. It’s almost like saying I don’t want my books to make money ><.

So, the next question naturally becomes, “If you’re not in it for the money, why are you trying to sell your books?” And it’s a fair query. If I just want to share my creation, why not simply give it away for free?

Well, quite honestly, it’s because I think my stories are worth more than that. I know they will never be popular. But I also know that the people who do read them and like them, really appreciate them. Anything free is worth paying for, as the saying goes. And I think the rest of the world believes that to be true. If my books were simply “free,” I wouldn’t necessarily get any more readers. I’d still be competing with all the other “free” stuff out there, and being lumped into the “free” category (which, sadly, is not always of the highest caliber) would not do my works any service. But if there’s a price tag (not one that justifies what I’ve spent putting the book out there, mind you), that tells my audience that this story is worth reading, because I put the time and effort necessary into it to make it worth selling. Plus, I’m more willing to shell out for ads and such (how else will the world know my books even exist?) if I have a chance of actually gaining a profit.

And maybe someday I’ll find my niche of readers and actually earn a chunk of change (stranger things have happened). But I’m not expecting it and I’m certainly not counting on it to pay the bills. I’m doing all the work that I’m doing – the hours of writing, the professional editing, the quality book design, the marketing, the print and ebook publishing, the author newsletter, the regular blog and social media posts – because I enjoy it. Because I believe it’s worth doing. Because I want my books to reach as many people as possible – since you never know who might be blessed by the story you have to tell. That’s my motivation, pure and simple.

So, if you’re looking for advice on making money from writing, don’t ask me. I’m doing it all wrong, from that perspective! Some of you are doing this just because you need (or want) the paycheck. That’s totally fine. I sincerely wish you the best of luck! But for those of you just starting out… those who’ve been at this a while and find yourselves stuck… those of you facing writer’s block… those of you putting so much time and effort into your work and now you’re wondering if it’s even worth it… I encourage you to think about why you’re writing what you’re writing. Motivation can be a powerful tool, or a heavy crutch. Use yours wisely ;-).

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