The Post Where I (Once Again) Talk About the Value of Writing for Passion

Skip if this topic is boring you. (I know I discuss this quite a bit.)

Writing to market is like this for a lot of writers:

The downside of writing to market

I came across this comment about writing to market while browsing a writing group recently: “Writing to market means you have to write the same thing over and over. Talk about depressing!” This was by a writer who was writing to market, by the way.

Then, while on another venue, I saw this by a non-writer: “I make very good money, but I want to quit my job. The only thing stopping me is that I’m terrified to give up something safe for something that is risky (but could be rewarding).”

As a disclaimer, I modified the quotes above to protect the people who said them. I felt these two people listed powerful reasons why writing to market sucks. In the second quote, the person wasn’t a writer, but the same idea applies.

Writing to market boxes you in. While you have some wiggle room, you have to deliver on the expectations of the reader. You can’t veer too far off the path. The readers in your market are expecting a certain type of story. There is a formula you have to follow. If you are planning to reach the same audience with every book you write, you are, essentially, writing the same thing over and over. I don’t care how many little “extras” you allow for; in the end, you are limited in what you can write. I know this because I wrote this way for a while. Eventually, you run out of anything “new” or “fresh” you can write.

So why do authors write to market? Sales. It’s all about the money. Knowing you have a better chance of earning money is “safe”. Books written to market do sell. There’s a reason you see so many similar books on the market. Most readers tend to like the same kind of books. Publishers figured out early on that they maximized profit by delivering books that garnered the most readers. Back when I started publishing ebooks in 2009, there was no talk about writing to market in the indie author sphere. That came a couple of years later. Once you figure out there’s money in something, it’s natural to look for a way to maximize how much you can bring in.

Writing what you’re passionate about is risky, but it’s also a lot more rewarding than writing to market.

I don’t care how much authors report their sales, at the end of the day, nothing is more satisfying than going back over a book you wrote and being happy you wrote it. It’s really sad when you hear about authors never rereading books they wrote. I realize these authors don’t think it’s sad, but, to me, it’s sad. Sales don’t last. They fluctuate. A book is never a bestseller forever. Eventually, it fizzles out and loses popularity. This is the natural way of things. When I was a kid, my parents had a calendar of funny quotes, and one of my favorite quotes was, “Money talks. All mine says is good-bye.” Making money as a writer is like that. The money might flow in, but eventually, it leaves. It costs money to live, and it costs money to run a business. You have to keep pumping out books that will maximize your profits in order to stay ahead. It’s exhausting, especially when you run yourself into the ground like the writer above who hates what she is writing.

At the end of the day, the only real thing we have is the book. Our books will outlast us. None of us know how long we have in this life. I’m 47. My mom died at 48. I just found out a friend lost her adult son unexpectedly. People of all ages die for one reason or another. People tell me I’m grim when I mention death, but I don’t see it that way. The awareness of death is a reason to make each day count. Writing what I love means I am enjoying the small amount of years I’m allowed here on this Earth before I end up being reunited with my parents. Every day you dread what you’re doing is a day you aren’t happy. I realize not every part of the writing process is going to be fun. There’s always going to be something that sucks. But, overall, what do you want your days to be like? I think it’s far more important to have joy in a short life than to have misery in a long one.

So what kind of books do you really want to write? What is going to fulfill you? There is something to be said for feeding your soul. When you are doing things you enjoy, you’ll have a much better outlook on life than people who spend their time doing things they hate. When you’re happy, you physically feel better, you’re able to engage with people in a much more meaningful way, and you’re more likely to make better choices. You have one life. Choose how you spend your time wisely.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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15 Responses to The Post Where I (Once Again) Talk About the Value of Writing for Passion

  1. Thank you for writing this! I used to feel so guilty because I couldn’t make myself write to market. I thought there was something wrong with me. Turns out I like to write because I have a passion for the story or the subject. Might not have the money to show for it, but I’m happy. 🙂

    • I’m glad you no longer feel guilty for writing to market. I know the writing community has a tendency to look down on people who write for passion. You’re much better off because you’re happy with what you’re writing. I was miserable when writing to market. I used to cry because I felt trapped, and then I got to the point where I started to hate writing. It sucked. The money wasn’t worth it. I will never write to market again. It’s not worth it.

  2. In these times, we should concentrate on what makes us happy. Not much else is worth our effort!

  3. I was very, very lucky that when I first started writing (under my other pen name) that my passion and the market were the same. Paranormal romance, especially with vampires, was super hot at the time, and I loved that genre. I made good money then, but the market suddenly was glutted with paranormal romance, and my sales plummeted because there was so much competition. `I decided to ditch that pen name (at least for a while) and concentrate on mysteries and sweet romance. I’m currently (and have been forever, LOL) working on a Gothic romance. That genre seems to never go out of style, and I do love it. Now if I can just find time to finish writing it! Maybe when I retire….

    • It’s a beautiful combination when you love what is popular. I can’t believe how quickly that market blew up. I guess it was the Twilight series that did it.

      My Gothic romances are among my bestselling books. I’d say it’s worth completing that book. (Also, I’d LOVE to read it! That genre is my favorite. It blends high suspense with romance.)

  4. galwriter says:

    Thank you for your comments. I find it very encouraging as I am now writing for passion and not for sale. Writing is keeping me going at this time of my life. Without this story that i am crafting my remaining days will be more than boring. I am in my eighties now and love letting my imagination go free rein. My characters are alive in my mind and I enjoy the situations I place them in and get them out. Thanks again, Ruth. You are my inspiration!

    • I’m impressed that you’re writing in your eighties. That is wonderful! To me, it’s inspirational that you are still doing something creative. Sadly, some people seem to reach a certain age and give up as if there’s nothing else to do. I love it when people prove that you can still do this even when you’re older. I’m 47 and hope I can say that I’m writing when I’m in my eighties.

  5. Erica R says:

    Ruth Ann it’s May 8th and I just wanted to wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day. Thanks for all your writing and the great stories about your wonderful kids.

    • Thank you, Erica! That’s so sweet of you. It was a good day here. We were able to grill hamburgers and enjoy the day with my husband’s mother who brought over too many delicious cookies and brownies that I now need to walk off. 😉 How was your day?

      • Erica R says:

        My day was very nice. My three kids and a future son-in-law around the dinner table for time and talk. The weather was rainy here in the east so no BBQ but we had pizza and cake. Which I now have to walk off! Thanks for writing

        • I’m glad to hear you had such a great day! Nothing wrong with pizza and cake. I love those, too. 😀 Too bad we’re not in the same town so we could walk together.

          • Erica R says:

            That really would be nice. I really do need the motivation of another person saying “let’s go”!

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