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Writing For Profit, Writing For Pleasure

Updated on April 3, 2013
Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images | Source

We've all had to force ourselves to write

Being a writer, whose income depends on being able to wordsmith constantly, it is difficult to sit down and write for pleasure. Often, after spending all day putting thousands of words down for other people, there is very little time or energy left to write anything for yourself.

Some days, we have to force ourselves to write anything at all; and that's ok. We just work through it, like anyone else. Should we force ourselves to write for pleasure? Will we have quality work if we force ourselves, or do we just take a sabbatical from it until we have the right amount of energy to do it justice?

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

It's Not Just Writer's Block

When you've been writing for money all day long, you'll most likely be exhausted by the end of the day. If it were just writer's block, the books listed in the ad above, or the prompts to the right would definitely fill the void. But this is something more.

There is a definite, and nearly tangible mental drain from forcing words out of your head, on a topic you really aren't passionate about. Do this over and over, all day, every day, thousands upon thousands of words. After a short time of doing this, it can be a nearly impossible action to sit down and write anything after that.

We then face a difficult choice. Do we force ourselves to write?

There are a couple of schools of thought on this and they are as follows:

  • HELL NO! - Don't you dare write until the inspiration catches you...
  • YOUBETCHA - It doesn't matter if its good, as long as you write, right?

No matter which side of the fence you lean, one thing is for certain, the story isn't going to write itself. Words have to get out of your head if you are going to share them with us.

Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway | Source

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

― Ernest Hemingway

Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images | Source

To Bleed, Or Not To Bleed

Do we sit down and hammer out the words in hopes that something good will come from this bloodletting, or just let it be for a while?

Keep on Truckin'

Taking the above into consideration, about getting the words out of your head, you may be compelled to keep on writing in hopes that something useful will come out of it. That's the catch. No matter what you write, or how you feel about it at the time, you will have something you can use; now or later.

It may not be very good, and it may have nothing to do with what you intended to write, but it's there. It is now out of your head and down on (virtual) paper. The great thing about this is being able to get something, anything down. Most of the time it won't be useful to your current work (or at least that's been my experience), but on the off chance it is organic to the WiP then it is a golden nugget that you would have lost otherwise.

Even though it's been my experience that these nuggets are few and far between that doesn't mean the time has been wasted. Many times I can go back to my other writings or notes for inspiration to begin another piece of work. Without it, many pieces of my writing would not exist today.

A Little R&R

On the other hand, taking a break can give your mind and spirit the rest they need to work at full strength Prudence suggests moderation here. It is way too easy to slack off and procrastinate when it comes to getting back into your writing.

Experience has shown that coming back from a short break allows better, passionate, and more fervent writing. Ideas you've struggled with will flow naturally and a new path could be discovered. Relaxation allows your creative mind to work, unrestricted by deadlines and word counts.

How do you overcome the challenges of writing for profit and writing for pleasure?

See results

Finding Balance

After taking a look at both sides of the argument, we are left wondering which option to choose. Don't be misled into thinking there are only two choices. We are free (that's why we write isn't it?) to choose the writing style and workflow that is best suited to us. Balance must be found no matter how you roll.

Any sabbatical must not be short lived, else you may not ever get back to your work. Instead, you'll drag on every day writing for money, feeling like a slave. Part of the point of writing is the freedom it brings. The freedom to express yourself to potentially a bagillion people. Don't let the forced writing most writers have to do affect your personal writing. Take back your spirit and inspiration any way you can.

On the other hand, a writer cannot keep writing indefinitely or their writing will begin to suffer. Writing can be a very exhausting task; it is important to find a way to relax your mind and be open to inspiration. The best bet is to find a place to relax that is conducive to writing, and inspires you. That would be the best of both worlds.

Now's your chance to sound off. Let me know how you balance the delicate relationship between forcing yourself to write and taking time off so you can gain inspiration.

© 2013 davidwhoward


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    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello David, Interesting points of view and perhaps useful tips.

      For my part in the evening - sometimes in the afternoon as now - I sit and work through my e-mails and Hub-page notifications, make a comment or two and then (hopefully) by about 9pm our time, teatime in your neck of the woods, I start work on my books. I don't know which of my pages you've visited, but assuming you've hit on the "RAVENFEAST" page you'll know what I'm currently working on.

      Inspiration ain't the name of my game, but nor is perspiration (the 90% some writer mentioned in his advice to novice writers). I let my story carry on its own life, i.e., the twists and turns come as they would in real life. Sod's law says, if it CAN happen, it WILL happen, and that's how these books unfold around real events:

      Ivar is currently in Jorvik (York), having joined a regional force and sacked the Normans' castle on the east side of the Ouse, ejecting William Malet with his family, and taken his castellan Robert fitzRichard hostage - just in case. Ivar started off in this book, "BETRAYED" fleeing Exeter with his kindred and gone via Dublin, Bosham and Chester to York. If you want any more wait for the book.

      See? It takes on life of its own, I'm just the scribe in his habit who sits at his desk and scrapes away with his quill in the rushlight (eye-strain was the biggest headache back then, that and a permanent blue finger and thumb...

    • davidwhoward profile image

      davidwhoward 4 years ago from Indiana

      The moderators thought this article was lacking, therefore no Feature for me. In all honesty, I wasn't happy with it either.


      I have updated and expanded the article. Perhaps it will pass muster now!

    • davidwhoward profile image

      davidwhoward 4 years ago from Indiana

      @billy - Thanks for reading and commenting

      @iguidenetwork - thanks for the votes

      I find that if I have to wait for the inspiration it never comes. I guess its an easy way for me to procrastinate.

    • iguidenetwork profile image

      iguidenetwork 4 years ago from Austin, TX

      Yes, I also do both - for pleasure as well as for profit. Especially if I write things that I love most and am interested and passionate about. So it's not really much of a pain.

      Up and interesting. :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting perspective. I do both. I obviously do not enjoy the profit as much as the personal, but it's not like I get a migraine doing it....that part is a job, but still a job I love.