I look at writing tips and advice every once in a while. My reason is twofold: for one, I need fodder for this blog. But like any writer, I want to become a better writer -- so it follows that I should seek advice. And I keep finding one piece of advice that greatly disturbs me. So today I have to ask: why are you writing?
Be careful of your answer. You don't know it, but other authors are judging you.
For Love of the Game
In scouring interviews, articles and blog posts, I've noticed a particular piece of advice that successful authors trot out whenever they're feeling superior...and trite. Many of them tell writers that they must think about why they are writing...and that if they are doing it for financial gain they will never succeed and never become "real" writers.
I'm calling bullshit on that misguided notion, and I'm prepared to explain why.
Many writers don't wake up at age 25 and decide to become writers. You don't go to sleep one day and wake up the next saying "I think I'll write a book." It's a decision I made at age 9, to write a book that is, but I didn't manage to put a full story together for many, many years. When I was 9, all I wanted to do was write. I didn't think about the money involved.
That's because I was 9, and didn't understand money. A few (very few) years have passed, and now I know the one thing I need to know about money: no one can live without it. And I love to write. So naturally, and quite reasonably, I hope to make money writing because this would seem to be more fitting for me than to make money doing something else...say making saddles. I'm sure it's a noble profession, but I don't really have a passion for saddle-making so I'm not certain I could be very good at it.
Yet so often I see successful authors offering up little nuggets of wisdom saying that to be a great writer, you mustn't think about money. And I strongly disagree. If thinking about money motivates you to write, do it. If you dream about making enough money to support yourself with your writing, keep doing it. This notion that you can't write to make money is silly and cruel. Everyone wants to make money doing what they love, whether it's saddle-making or storytelling.
Some advice, I think, is meant to be ignored. Next time you come across a successful author suggesting that you can't write to make money, send them a comment: if they don't think authors should write to make money, they ought to make all their books free.