The first rule of writing is that you write out of love. You write for the love of words, the love of the craft, and the love of creation. There’s no get-rich-quick scheme in writing. There are no guarantees you will write a best seller. No guarantees you will be hired by the New York Times as a travel writer, or see your blog explode with hundreds of thousands of views.
The one thing that will always keep you going is the strongest emotion in the world – love.
I’ve written out of love for this craft for more than 30 years. For 23 of them, I have been a professional journalist, paid full time for my work.
It has never made me rich. It will never make me rich.
At least monetarily.
Definition of Rich
It’s made me rich in different ways. It’s made me rich by being able to wake up in the morning, come to work, and do what I love. That makes me richer than most people in this world. There are very few who can say they do what they love.
But, recently, I’ve seen a slate of people who start writing because they think they can make lots of money. Become influencers who think it’s an easy field to make a few dollars. I’ve heard writing called a “passive” income.
There’s nothing passive about writing. Especially good writing. It requires careful thought, careful crafting, and detailed editing. It requires more than thinking you wrote an essay and high school, so this will be an easy fix. That’s not how it works.
To steal a phrase from Alcoholics Anonymous, it only works when you work it. Some writers have talent. Others have to work harder in order to craft harder.
It doesn’t matter. You can piss your talent away or you can just work hard until you burn up in flames.
It takes working the right way and the right way is slowly but surely as you hone your craft and start developing confidence in yourself and your writing.
It takes the confidence to know that you may never get paid a dime for your work, and that’s OK. That doesn’t define who you are as a person or as a writer. You aren’t a paycheck. You aren’t a best-selling novel.
You’re more than that. You just have to define what that is.
There’s value in flexibility
Be flexible in that definition as well. For years, I had dreams of becoming a best-selling writer. Not only that, I wanted to be a great, best-selling novelist. A writer read in English books and taught to young kids.
I’m older now. I’m more mature. What I really want is one thing.
To love what I do. To get my novels out there to at least a few hundred folks or maybe a couple of thousand who enjoy my writing and that I can entertain. Maybe even teach younger writers a few things.
It’s not an impossible dream. It’s a realistic dream.
I’ve set my path on that goal.
Set your path for your goal. I’m rooting for you.
Stay tuned for Cliff Hightower’s book on writing, “Write Like You Got A Pair.”