It’s always a dilemma: writing for pleasure or profit?

I’ve dreamt of being a famous author ever since I heard my first story. Of course, I didn’t think of it as being a “famous” person in the sense of fans drooling over me, hogging me for autographs and devouring every word I write. Oh wait, let me re-think that statement. Of course it WAS all about the praise, the ego stroking, the exquisite pleasure of knowing that everyone in the whole wide world thinks you are awesome. So much for modesty. Meh.

But it was also about the ability to impart joy; the knowledge that my words, my emotions and my experiences would make someone out there, somewhere, cry out: “Oh yes! That’s exactly how I feel!”

But then, life happened.

I studied literature, of course. I completed my Masters in English Literature. But during that time, my life went through a lot of changes. I was suddenly bundled with more responsibilities than I thought I could shoulder. And of course I messed (wanted to use the ‘F’ word here but didn’t, to spare your sensibility) up many of them. I had no experience of being a mother-figure so yes, I made a lot of mistakes. I know why I made those mistakes, but that’s another story for another time.

Suddenly, I had no time to write anything except O level English lesson plans. I vented my creativity with cleverly crafted critiques on student work, teacher comments on progress reports and sometimes, by writing the beginnings of stories for students to complete as assignments. Sad, isn’t it?

Then I discovered freelancing. And things changed. I gave up teaching and focused solely on freelance writing work. That gave me more time for my family. That’s how it works to date.

But today, the possibility of becoming a famous author seems even remoter. More often than not, my work-writing takes precedence over my pleasure-writing (if there is such a word). Sometimes, my brain is full of half-formed stories just dying to be told but a deadline looms right before my eyes and I put aside the many voices hankering for an outlet.

The only time when my work was in harmony with pleasure was when I got hired to ghost-write a fictional story. I enjoyed writing the story and I loved being able to make money off it. But I hated the part where I had to ‘sell’ it. It felt like selling a part of my soul and I’m never doing it again.

The best time is when I get paid to write about what I love. Hah! Who wouldn’t? But those times are few and far between.

Do you face the dilemma of writing for pleasure vs profit? How do you deal with it?

 

 

17 comments
AngelaJordan1
AngelaJordan1

I too found myself in this same situation.  When you write freelance as a profession there are always going to be times you don't really like what you are writing about but you like the money!  Keep writing and keep looking for ways where you can do both.  Focus on creating that scenario over and over.  

LoriCain
LoriCain

Yes, I face that dilemma and I just keep writing. Even though it's a task I have to cross off my list, once I get started, I find myself enjoying it. So, just keep doing it. You obviously have a gift!!

SMSJOE
SMSJOE

You tell beautiful stories Rabab I enjoy reading them. The global nature of this medium is so incredible. Love learning about perspectives from around the world. I appreciate you sharing your story. I am more in Sheila's camp, for me writing is work and I am Ok with that. I only state it because I am probably tone deaf to those who struggle with the tension. AH I suppose that's my response to your question. For me there is no tension I prefer to read for pleasure. ;-) 

prosperitygal
prosperitygal

I agree with Kellie, instead of making yourself make a choice that does not deliver all you want, rethink that paradigm and find a way to enjoy both.

@AskPaulWoolley
@AskPaulWoolley

Great article! I only recently found how enlightening and eye opening writing can be.  I'm just hoping my spalling and gremmar skills catch up to my age :)

TheMarketingBit
TheMarketingBit

Writing is generally 'work' for me.  Sometimes I truly enjoy it.  Other times I just want to get through it.  But for those who have "half-formed stories dying to be told"...for those who have a true calling and the creativity to write...I'd say DO IT before you lose the stories.  I  heard an interview of a poet (don't recall her name) and she always had pencil and paper because "the words would come and she had to capture them before they disappeared into the air".   The impression she gave was that once the words disappeared she was never able to recreate the magic.  The world needs all the magic we can produce.  Sounds like you may have some of that magic to share.

Strategy4Social
Strategy4Social

I think that you should do it for both - pleasure and profit.  There are some things that I write about just because I have a genuine interest in helping others out.  One thing I have learned is to say no to things that are not a fit with who I am as a person... important lesson!