Friday, March 12, 2010

Does it Ever Pay to Not Get Paid?

I'm not talking about writing for free -- though I've done that in the past to build up local newspaper clips. I'm talking about turning down paid writing work in order to have time to write something that may never pay. About a year ago, I reduced my freelance writing (paid blogging, film reviews, Hollywood columns and novel coverage) because continuing those assignments, along with working a day job, left me no time or ability to work on my novels.

The decision earned me anxiety and insomnia; I feared I was crazy for turning down work. Could I have used the money? Absolutely, in the short term. But in the long term, I have to believe my novels will become a source of income one day. If I don't believe it enough to give it everything I've got, who will? Besides, the joy I get from creating stories and characters, even if just for myself and my friends, outweighs the frustration I feel when I don't have the time or energy to pursue my real passion. Life is short.

A month or two after deciding to focus on my unpaid writing, I was lucky enough to sign with a wonderful agent. I'd like to think the two are connected.

Kind of a serious entry for a Friday, but it's been on my mind because of my writing retreat next week. I plan to get a lot done.

7 comments:

  1. Sarah, this is something we have in common. I didn't walk away from paid writing, but I did walk away from my teaching position for the exact reasons you list here. Life is short. Writing gives me joy. I signed with an agent just a few months later, too!

    I hope this next week is really beneficial to your book and to you.

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  2. That is so cool, Caroline! Wonderful that your decision to commit to writing paid off in a big way :) It can be scary and nerve-wracking; thanks so much for your note.

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  3. I am a spanish girl, but affortunated a spick english. Your blog is very good I like a lot. If you want to visit my blog that is of my pictures:
    http://marinbambu.blogspot.com/

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  4. ...just stumbled onto your blog Sarah, I've been writing since learning how to push a pencil. With a job, three kids, time is always an issue...but oh the rewards for striving!

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  5. Hi Elliot, thanks for checking out my blog. Make yourself at home, and best of luck finding that work/family/writing balance! :)

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  6. Sarah, I totally understand. While I love my current job, it was definitely a step down in title/responsibility from my previous job, and the main reason for that was as my writing becomes more and more a serious responsibility in my life, I need less of that elsewhere. So, yeah, I probably have hopped off the track of increased earnings and a sparkly title, but I also have time at lunch to write and I rarely stay late at the office these days. There is a lot to be said for being serious about your writing career, whether or not it's earning yet. I don't see how it ever can earn if you don't have serious time and energy to devote to it.

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  7. YES. I think it's awesome that you can use your lunch hour for writing, and get your evenings mostly free for the stuff that you love to do (like improv, too! :)

    Sooooo looking forward to Wednesday.

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