Are you writing for money or writing for the sake of writing?
I was thinking about this sad truth this morning while I was reading Writer's First Aid by Kristi Holl. I read the chapter "Money Maxims" and noticed how the author touched on the fact that many writers expect to be paid handsomely for their first sale and, when it's not forthcoming, they give up. She reminded readers of how it takes a long time to earn a handsome profit from the work they do, and that this is time well spent, because they are given a chance to hone in on their craft and sharpen their skills as a writer. If anything, I think it's also a chance for writers to find that elusive "voice."
This really made me think. Earlier in the day, I'd been surfing various Web sites to see what kind of education and training are required for someone to be a psychologist. As many people know, a psychologist earns a good income. I was surprised to find out that this "good income" does not happen right away. In fact, it takes a lot of effort before that good money is made in psychology, but mostly, it takes time. A lot of time. There's the 4 years of a college education, the years invested in graduate school, the internship and time used for research and study. It would be a total of 12 years before anyone can become a licensed psychologist. If that. Then add 3 or 4 more years, maybe longer, before the tidy income starts coming in. One site noted that a psychologist could earn up to $80,000 a year, but not until after an investment of 20 years of training and working in the field. Twenty years before being able to live off the fat of the land. Twenty years is a long time, but worth it in the end. It gives our psychologist the chance to obtain further wisdom, experience, and a sense of professionalism in dealing with tough patients.
All of that time invested makes a person a good psychologist -- maybe even one of the best psychologists -- who has earned that very nice paycheck. The same can be said of the writer. If the writer puts in all that time, that effort, that practice and discipline to write every day even if it doesn't mean getting paid for that writing, all of it will contribute to the Holy Grail of writers: Good money.
So if someone wants to be a writer just to make money, then they'd better look into something else. The money will not come right away. Yes, yes, we all know of the first novelist nabbing that multi-million dollar book deal or the freelance writer who sells her very first article submitted to Good Housekeeping and gets paid $2,000 or more for it, but these cases are rare.
During the early part of your writing career, don't write for the money; write for the love of writing. And to hone your craft. For the desire to be a good writer and the dedication to put words down onto paper because that is what you need to have in place first before you can expect to earn good money from your writing. Yes, you should definitely aim to make good money from your writing. As it should be, if you turn out to be a great writer who is deserving of that nice payout for your work. But above all else, be willing to put in the time, training and effort to reach that goal. Just because you don't earn money right away as a writer, it DOES NOT mean you won't earn good money later on. (Sadly, I know of some writers and authors who snub these very people who don't make thousands or millions of dollars early in their career.) You will make good money as a writer, just not right away. Meanwhile, keep writing.