Writing for love

I have always felt that if you love what you do, no matter what your profession, the money will follow.  Perhaps this is idealistic, but I have seen it happen numerous times.  I truly love helping writers develop their work and their careers and think this has resulted in some exciting business successes.  I have also seen this phenomenon time and again with my own clients in their writing.

When she began as a novelist, Mary Doria Russell took ten years to create her now-classic work The Sparrow with little expectation that she would become a bestselling author. I know the same is true of Jacqueline Carey who has produced an amazing nine-book fantasy series. David Morrell, a former college professor wrote out of pure love for his craft, and has developed incredibly memorable stories and characters, most notably Rambo.  Indeed, David told me recently that when he speaks to groups of writers, he is always talking about writing for love as opposed to money. He agrees with me that this very often results in real successes.

Then there is one of our newest clients, John Locke who self-publishes electronically.  John does not consider that he is a professional writer and yet he truly loves creating the tales he does.  And his is an incredible success story with close to 800,000 copies of his books sold just this year.

Indeed, as I was thinking about all of this and looking for other examples, I found this one which says it all.  Bloggers begin by writing because they love writing and not to sell books necessarily, but look what happened here.

What are your writing for love stories?

4 Responses to Writing for love

  1. josin says:

    You can write what you love and because you love to write, but if you lack the technical skill to produce a clean manuscript and the ability to tell a compelling story, then you can’t expect anyone else to want to read your words.

    The people who get the most upset when they’re rejected by publishers or agents are those who love their own work. They love the process. They love the characters. And they absolutely do not understand why others don’t share that love.

    Hundreds of thousands of people commit their words to the page. Some, of course, do it because they think it’s an “easy” way to get rich quick, but that expectation will die quickly when exposed to real life. The others, the ones who toil for decades because they tune out the voices telling them that they don’t have the necessary tools to create a story that others can enjoy (or in some cases even understand) do it because they believe in what they’re writing.

    Vanity presses feed on the dreams of those who love their own words, who have bled their own souls on the page in the hopes that their own stories can touch a stranger’s life or help someone through a struggle. Love is a starting point, but it’s not the only factor.

  2. I know a lot of people say this, but I truly believe that if you love what you do, the passion will come through in your work. This isn’t the same as everyone else immediately falling in love with what you do, but I think we can sense when someone is doing something for a paycheck versus doing it because it’s something they love to do. With any artistic effort, like writing, there isn’t much of a money motivator (not at the beginning anyway—maybe for the Stephen Kings of the world there is one, eventually.)

    My own writing for love story is writing The Job Search Central blog for The New York Public Library. I was there for a little over year and blogged for about ten of the months I spent there, and after about the third entry, I started getting clients showing up for career counseling just because they wanted to meet me. I still get the warm fuzzies when I think about it =)

  3. I found this blog via a fellow writer, who’s a member of my former critique group, that I left earlier this year for personal reasons.

    Anyway, this is the first of the posts I’ve read, and I can relate to much of what was said here.

    It’s something I’ve grappled with for a long time, and even though I know I love writing, especially when it’s NOT those Godforsaken query letters that make me feel like a foolish hack, but few writers I’ve shared my stories to say they’re as boring and broken as my query letters often are, and trust me, they weren’t lying to spare my feelings, since as much they may like what I’ve written, there’s always a laundry list of things I didn’t do or need to better but don’t know how.

    As narrow, selfish and insincere as this sounds, writing’s one of few things I’ve ever been good at, and unlike quitting things too easily as a kid, I promised myself I’d never give in that easily ever again.

    Sometimes I wonder why the few other non-writing related things I love are no less easier to build a career out of. I love cooking and baking about as much as I do writing, but I’m not cut for the fast-pace environment that comes with working in a restaurant, I can’t rush and be as through and efficient as I’d need to be, and no, working in fast food is not my idea of culinary ecstasy, so I’m better off a home cook.

    That said, I would like to find out if I could be a baker and open my own retail artisan bakery. I’m an early riser most of the time, and I know bakers start their days early to get things fresh for the days customers, but I need to learn more than I know now, and to go into business for myself requires money, skills, and expertise I don’t have now, despite people urging me to do it now.

    I put in the time and effort to hone my writing every day, and even during the hard times when reading one more article about query letters, books I couldn’t write well enough, books I was too afraid to attempt, writers debuting with books about things I’d never pull off, and frankly some of it I wouldn’t want to.

    This is why I’ve always felt torn in this regard.

    In case you couldn’t tell from what I’ve said up to now, traditional education was not a productive or nurturing experience for me, and while I wasn’t a total goof off, I just was the addemic many high achievers are,

    I’d still write even I never got published or make any money from it, but that doesn’t change the fact I do want to get published, and I don’t think that means I want to “Sell out” or that I’m a seeking instant fame and fortune, which certainly doesn’t happen to everyone, and rarer still does it happen instantly.

    I guess all I’m really trying to say is, I wish I knew of something I love almost as much as writing, but doesn’t require 4 degrees and decades of training to be, and pays more than pennies a day.

    Anyway, thanks for posting this, I did find it inspiring, and yet it makes me wonder if I really have the innate passion to be a novelist. I honestly believe I do, but I’d be lying if I said making money wasn’t a factor at all, but it’s like I’m jack of trades.

    Sorry if I got too whiny or weird, I’m sorting out a lot of things in my life now.

  4. Made a mistake, this it what I meant-

    “In case you couldn’t tell from what I’ve said up to now, traditional education was not a productive or nurturing experience for me, and while I wasn’t a total goof off, I just “wasn’t” the addemic many high achievers are.”

    Sorry about that!


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