But I Don’t WANT to Make Money Writing!

How are you supposed to stay motivated when money isn’t an incentive?

These days, it seems like every blog, YouTube channel and podcast related to writing has a common theme: how to make money as a writer. I’ve covered it here, plenty of times.

This is, obviously, because every creative person dreams of turning their art into a full-time career. Nothing at all wrong with that.

Except … what if you don’t really care about making writing your career? At least, not as much as you care about the writing itself?

What if you just want to write, whether you earn a paycheck doing it or not?

How do you motivate yourself to write when there’s not really any financial incentive?

What’s the motivation to do anything, really, if you’re not interested in selling hundreds of copies of your latest book, or whatever it is you’re trying to market for a profit?

For those of you who just want to continue writing as a hobby – and I know you’re out there – just because an income as a writer isn’t your main priority now, or never will be, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your work, measure your progress and lead a fulfilling life as a writer.

First, forget about anyone who bugs you about not wanting to make a career out of writing. You can get published without having to get a book deal or starting a blog with ads surrounding every page. Just because you write “for free” doesn’t mean what you’re writing is any less valuable. Sure, everyone would love to get paid for it. But if you’re not really interested, hey, that’s fine. You can still be proud of your accomplishments.

Measure your improvement through other metrics. While it’s not always all about the views or the followers or the subscribers, if you don’t have an income to measure how you’re doing, you still might need some kind of number to keep yourself on track. You can even measure how much you’ve written in the past week compared to the one before, or set a goal to write a certain number of words by the end of the month. Readers are often hard to come by, especially in the beginning, but tracking how many people are “paying attention” does help – and it’s a nice confidence-booster, too.

Challenge yourself. Don’t write about the same old things day after day. Mix it up. Set higher goals than you’re used to and see if you can reach them. Remember, a good writer never stops improving, never settles, never lets herself get too comfortable. You are allowed to work hard and do something you enjoy just on your own time, “for fun.”

Never lose sight of the drive to write. Writers who aren’t currently interested in making a full-time career out of their art almost (ALMOST) have an advantage over those trying to make a living doing the exact same thing: there’s less pressure. In some cases, that’s not great. But it also means you have the rare opportunity to focus more on the writing itself, and why you’re passionate about it. I’m glad I don’t make money writing fiction, because I’m honestly not sure I would still do it if someone was paying me to. It’s what reminds me I love to tell stories. Maybe it’s the same for you. Maybe not. But no matter what, never let go of that need to create. It’s a part of you, whether it becomes your career or not. Embrace it.

If you want to write because you love it, and that’s it, then go for it. Put all the energy you can into creating something – it’s a gift. Not everyone can or has the desire to do what you do. There is always a chance you might get paid to write someday, and that’s great – it’s the end goal for many people. But it’s OK not to want to, or be able to, focus on that right now. Just enjoy the ride. Maybe someday – or maybe not. Don’t stress yourself out TOO much. You’re doing this for a good reason. Keep it up.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Benefits of Writing as a Hobby

When writing is just a hobby, and not a career, a lot of the pressure often associated with writing professionally goes away.


Do you write because you want to, because you have to, or both? Did you know there are plenty of benefits to just writing as a hobby? Here are a few of the big ones.

Learning discipline and how to set goals

Those who write because it’s their hobby, and not because it’s their job, have a huge advantage. Writing practice is just as important as practicing a sport or instrument. This is why all writers who want to make writing a career should start out writing as a hobby. It allows you to practice how to set your own deadlines, stick to a schedule, set goals for yourself and stay on task even when you do not want to continue writing. These are all great skills to develop, whether you eventually want to try writing professionally or not. Take advantage of the opportunities regardless.

The disadvantage: When someone else isn’t telling you that you need to write, it can be hard to visualize that you are actually making progress and refining your skills when you are the one holding yourself accountable for everything. This is why goal setting as an aspiring writer is so important. Here are a few tips on how to set SMART writing goals.

No pressure

When writing is just a hobby, and not a career, a lot of the pressure often associated with writing professionally goes away. Most of the time, there are no deadlines, and even if there are, you can usually be the one to set them for yourself. Writing becomes less about polish and perfection and more about telling a good story, even while writing nonfiction. Writing isn’t necessarily easier or less stressful itself, but the process is.

The disadvantage: Sometimes, having that pressure there to keep you moving forward – good old-fashioned eustress – helps prolong motivation and makes you more productive over time. Without it, you might be more likely to give into excuses and might not write as often. Here’s how to meet writing goals that have nothing to do with writing as a career.

Freedom to experiment

I am working on a novella right now that is structured very different from the previous five I have written this year. I am both nervous and excited about how it is going to turn out. I haven’t ever done anything like this before. Yet I am not sure I would have felt confident enough to try this new format if I hadn’t been working alone, with no planned monetary compensation. When you’re writing on your own – theoretically just for you, many times for others – it’s a little easier to try new things with your stories, which you may be able to apply to more ‘serious’ projects later on.

If you are already writing professionally, keep a few things in mind:

  • It’s always beneficial to have a personal side project you’re working on just for fun. Writing may be your job during the day, but you need to allow yourself to create freely on your own time as well.
  • Never feel like ‘not writing enough’ outside of work means you are failing. Some weeks you will be able to swing it, and some weeks you just won’t. Part of balancing writing as a job and as a hobby is fitting in personal writing time when it’s feasible.

There is NOTHING wrong with only writing because you love it! Writing as a hobby has plenty of benefits, whether you want to take things a step further at some point or not. Regardless, always remember to enjoy writing those words. It is possible to write professionally and still have a good time doing it, too.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Writing Is a Hobby; A Hobby CAN Become a Job

We ALL consider writing a hobby. Some of us just happen to get a paycheck for our hobbies.


Even as an adult, I have never once allowed myself to believe that it was impossible to find a job that I loved.

There will always be jobs we despise. It’s a rite of passage, almost. I worked in data entry for four months last year. It was boring. But I always found little things about that job that made me happy: free bagels every Friday, the occasional nice email response after updating a restaurant owner’s menu, my own desk. The best part about that job was that once I left, there was no more work to be done. I could go home and do whatever I wanted. And many evenings, I chose to spend my free time writing.

I have always believed that one day, writing could be my job.

I have always known there are many, many people out there who do not believe this. But I, wrongfully apparently, assumed that those who did not believe writing could be a real career were not writers. I never thought I would come across a writer who actively protested the idea that writing could ever be anything other than something people do in their free time. Until I did.

There is my stance on the matter, that if you find the right niche, you can write, make money and overall enjoy what you do for a living.

There is also a stance, I found out recently, that writing should never be for monetary gain. That it is a hobby and not a career. That as soon as you start to make money off of the things you write, it becomes all business, and loses the sparkle and shine it had when you were doing it for free. You feel pressured to write, so you do not want to do it anymore.

Six months ago I would have not been able to give a professional response to an argument like this. In some ways, it makes sense. But as someone who spent many years writing for no compensation at all, and is now slowly making the transition into making money doing something I am good at, I have to say that, from my perspective, this viewpoint makes no sense.

Not only is it unnecessarily discouraging to someone who wants to earn money writing, but it also assumes that writing as a job is miserable and pointless … which is far from the truth (opinion). Are there days I do not want to write about dating and productivity experts? Absolutely. But there are also days, for another client, I get to write about my ultimate passion – health – and I feel on top of the world.

What troubles me about the writers out there who take the latter stance is that I don’t think they have ever gotten past the hard part. I worry that they have given up, and now believe writing can never be a true profession – for them, and for those they share their belief with. Perhaps what they do not realize is that there are stages involved in transitioning from writing as a hobby to writing as a career.

At first, you struggle to find work. Any work. This is usually after you spend a whole bunch of time ‘writing for exposure.’

Then, once you find work, you go through a very anxious period of time in which you realize this whole writing as a job thing is not what you expected it would be.

Then you get into a rhythm. And it gets easier.

Eventually you have enough experience to land a job writing in a setting or about a subject you are truly passionate about. And all that struggling becomes worth it.

If you’re out there, and you love to write, I’m so glad you are here. But I want you to know that it does not matter whether you are writing just for fun or want to look into making money doing what you feel you are good at. If you enjoy writing, you have every right to continue to do it in any format you choose.

But don’t ever let yourself believe it can never be a career for you. Keep going. Even when it gets hard, just keep going. If that is what you want, and you are willing to work hard, you will be rewarded in time.

And if you’re out there, and you are a writer, and you are even thinking about telling a fellow writer they cannot pursue a dream they have, don’t you dare. I am disappointed and saddened by that kind of behavior in the writing community. You are entitled to your opinion. But in this case, it is in everyone’s best interest to keep your opinion to yourself.

I cannot tell you that you are wrong or that you cannot believe what you believe just because I disagree: that would be unfair. But it is NOT okay to tear another writer down. You are no better than anyone else just because you consider writing a hobby. We ALL consider writing a hobby. Some of us just happen to get a paycheck for our hobbies. That is our decision. Please, respect that, the way we respect your decision to write for free.

In a nutshell, do what makes you happy. Write because it is a part of you. Dare to dream and work as hard as you are able. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t be what you want to be.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

The One Thing That Changed When Writing Became My Job Instead of Just My Hobby

I am many different things. That is a kind of freedom I did not realize I needed to embrace.


I never thought it would happen to me.

No, really. I honestly never thought I would make it this far. Writing is one of those things many, many people say they want to do when they “grow up.” It is a common, seemingly ordinary dream. A career goal many people still shake their heads at. In high school, no one ever actually told me I couldn’t be a writer. They gently steered me toward an English major at a good college. After that, it was up to me to figure it all out for myself.

I almost gave up on writing as a career. I won’t go into the details right now. I didn’t give up, though. By the time I graduated, writing had become pretty much the only thing I was skilled and qualified enough to do. I figured I should at least try to find writing jobs, at least until I could figure out what my degree(s) could get me in the disaster that is the US job market.

Somehow I became the managing editor of a magazine. And a freelance writer. The first paycheck I received for writing something original wasn’t all that long ago, but it was one of the coolest days of my life. Granted, I’m not the best writer out there. But I’m pretty lucky to be able to, at least for the time being, live off of what I earn from dumping all the racing thoughts in my head onto blank virtual pages.

I almost didn’t do it. I almost changed my mind at the last minute. Because I was afraid … afraid that when writing became my job, I wouldn’t want to do it anymore.

In reality, being able to call writing my ‘profession’ has completely changed my life – for the better in most ways, for the worse in a few others. For years, all I wanted to be was a writer. And when you’re younger and you have responsibilities like school and other activities, you often only have time to write every once in awhile. And that was the case with me. Sometimes, it used to be really hard to force myself to write in my free time … because all I wanted to do was, well, not use my brain anymore.

When you spend all day writing, because you have to, there is a cutoff point, at which you do not have to write anymore until the next day if you don’t want to. Then you are free to do whatever you want to do from that point forward. There is less pressure to write on your own time, because you get your fix during the hours you spend working.

I am a writer. But writing as a job has shown me that writing is not all I do – and there is nothing wrong with that. I have other hobbies I truly enjoy pursuing. Now that there is far less pressure to ‘become a writer,’ I don’t have to push myself over the edge anymore just to get something published. If I feel like writing something extra on my own time, I can, and I do. But if I need a break, and just want to watch YouTube videos until three in the morning, technically I can. And I’m not missing out on any writing time, because my office hours are over for the day.

Identity is really confusing when you’re at that stage where you’re trying to define yourself as a writer but technically aren’t one yet. Now I can call myself a writer – it is my job. But because it’s my job, when I close out all my work for the day, I can be anything I want after that. I can be a bookworm and curl up with a Star Wars novel. I can be a musician and write a few songs just because it’s good for my mental health. I can be a runner, and run six miles just because it makes me feel good.

I love being a writer. I am grateful for everything I have and am proud of what I have achieved so far, and what I have yet to accomplish as I continue to grow and develop my skills. But that is not all I am. I am many different things. That is a kind of freedom I did not realize I needed to embrace. The pressure to be one thing and one thing only is gone.

It took 10+ years, but I have finally found balance in my life. I never thought getting a job could make that happen. I’m glad I was wrong.

If you’re feeling totally lost or stuck, just remember that writing does not have to be your everything. You are a writer. But you are also ___, and ___, and ____. Just because you put down your pen for awhile does not make you any less of a person. And if you do spend all your time writing, and that makes you happy, then you are allowed to find joy in that. Writing can be as little or as much a part of your life as you want it to be. It is completely your choice. But writing does not define you.

Never let yourself create an identity based on your writing unless you have an identity separate from that. That is one of the most important things I will probably ever tell you. Because if you are trapped in one of those cycles when you receive rejection after rejection, you can’t let yourself take that personally. It’s your writing that’s being rejected, not you as a person. Remember that. And if you are succeeding as a writer, feel good about that – but keep in mind that you cannot neglect other areas of your life just because your career is taking off.

You might think it will never happen to you. But I have one rule when it comes to writing as a career: never say never. Ever.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.