Can You Make a Living as a Writer?

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Can You Make a Living as a Writer?

Can you make a living as a writer? Is writing worth the time and effort if we can’t make money from our creative endeavors? Am I even a “real writer” if I don’t make a living from my writing? The Writing Cycle’s upcoming coaching series explores the anxiety that arises when the need for market value collides with personal motivations for making art.

This year, we’ll help you Define Your Purpose As a Writer and explore ways American Cultural Mythologies Dictate The Value of Art. In the meantime, consider these ten inspiring quotes as you work from rough draft to realized dream and consider the value the writing you create.

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  1. “There are three lessons writers must learn. First, writers have to read. Second, they must find a way to write every day. The third rule is they can’t try to do it for a living.”   Brad Listi
  2. “”Creative” sits right above “innovation” and “disruption” in the glossary of terms that have been co-opted by corporate America. In this economy, we’re encouraged to think of units of time in dollar amounts, and to come up with inventivecreative, evenways to monetize every last fledgling skill we posses. Hobbies are now necessarily productive. We’re encouraged to be “goal-oriented” and so we feel that we need to turn every creative pursuit into a professional one. ”  — Carrie Battan
  3. “In American culture, success is defended almost solely in monetary terms  we are defined by what we do for a living, and our success is measured by how sumptuous a living we earn. It is an easy jump to assume that if we cannot manage to earn a living through our creative work, then we are failures and our work must be worthless. How sad this is, and how short-sighted.”   — Eric Maisel
  4.  “Don’t be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.”  — Arthur Miller
  5. “There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money either.”
    Robert Graves
  6. “I always maintained other streams of income because I never wanted to burden my creativity with the task of providing for me in the material world. I have seen so many beautiful creative souls murder their creative process because of this relentless insistence that they are not real artists unless their art pays the bills. When it doesn’t work out (and it often doesn’t) these people become angry, bitter, stuck, bankrupted, and  worst of all  they often quit creating at all. You cannot go into any creative field expecting or demanding worldly rewards. Let me tell you what makes you a real artist: Are you making art? Then you’re a real artist.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
  7. “Temporary creative successes are something you have to recover from. They kill as many people as not. Publication will not heal you or fill your Swiss cheesy holes. But writing can.”   Anne Lamott
  8. “In response to the lament, ‘The kind of writing I want to do doesn’t pay and takes a lot of time”, I urge writers to ask themselves: Am I letting myself do the kind of writing I want to do today, or am I using fears about making a living to avoid doing the work? And why is it necessary for our self-respect that we make a living from art?” —  Julia Cameron
  9. “We are tempted to take ourselves too seriously as far as ego recognition goes, in terms of literary prizes, grants, and publications in journals, yet not seriously enough as essential witnesses to our time.”
    Melissa Pritchard
  10. “Perhaps what our greatest challenge will be in this new digital society is to define ways in which we will make our lives matter even when unobserved, invisible, uncompensated. Who we are when no one is watching may become our greatest spiritual journey to date. ”  Barbara Brown Taylor

Ready to prioritize your writing?

Explore coaching services and editing packages that provide accountability and expert feedback while honoring creative process.

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Carol Test
Carol Test
CAROL TEST is an award-winning short story writer and former editor-in-chief of Sonora Review. Raised in Phoenix, she earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and taught fiction workshops at the college level for more than a decade. She currently empowers authors to get works-in-progress publication-ready via The Writing Cycle.
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