When people choose any profession, there is a reason behind it. Similarly, there are different reasons why people write.
Some write for amusement, some to pass time, some write as a journaling habit, while others write to earn their livelihoods, and then there are some people who write because without it they find it hard to breathe, hard to exist. Or you can say writing for the sake of writing.
People who write to earn
These people have different priorities and mindsets and approach towards writing as compared to the writers who write to learn, to know themselves better.
People who write to earn have someone in their mind dictating terms, mostly a reader or a publisher. They change their content and writing style as per the needs and requirements of the reader and the time they are writing in.
And these days, the boss they are writing for has changed. Now, algorithms and good connections are the new demigods. You can term these writers as algo-friendly and reader-pleasers.
Well, on some level, if you are a full-time writer and your livelihood depends on it then obviously you will have to make compromises with your writing style and even sometimes change the content to suit the reader’s needs (or wants) or a publisher’s instructions. Because this happens with any business. The client is the king and the client’s satisfaction holds sway over everything else.
The client is the king and the client’s satisfaction holds sway over everything else.
People who write to learn
For those writers for whom writing is equivalent to breathing, they couldn’t care less about earning. They write to survive. They can go without food for days but not without writing their hearts out. Writing helps them understand themselves and the world around them better.
Writing helps them understand themselves and the world around them better.
I can say these things from my own experience because I could relate to those hopeless romantics and extraordinary artists. I could relate to the turbulence that must have gone on in their heads. Because, I am not going to lie, I get these epiphanies from time to time too.
I must admit that I am not ‘that’ creative as I used to be (maybe due to medication for my mental illness), but I am grateful for the mental illness too that it has given me such depth and perspective that would not have been possible without the illness.
Many people say to know your target audience, stick to deadlines, and publish consistently. But these kinds of writers don’t care much about the superfluous and in fact, hate any kind of restraint or restrictions. They can not be forced to write in a mold.
And despite loving their craft so deeply, these people have learned that writing can not always be joyous and fun. Sometimes, it drags but nonetheless, they do it just like sometimes you don’t feel like eating but you still eat because that’s how you survive.
So what should you do?
Well, there is no denying the fact that we need money to survive. And if you happen to be the person whose living depends on your passion i.e. writing then you can’t write whatsoever you please. Well, you can, but it may or may not result in earnings for you.
And while writing completely as per the reader’s or client’s needs you will soon find out there is no joy in writing. So, what to do?
Well, as the great enlightened sage Buddha had said:
Follow the middle path
That’s what I do and that’s what you should do too.
It’s hard at first to strike the right balance as it takes practice and experience. But it can be done. Write your hearts out, don’t restrain yourself but in a way that it adds value to the readers.
After all, when you intend to write, you want it to be read. And adding value to a reader’s life in any way is great — by imparting knowledge, or wisdom, or by giving hope or encouragement, by persuading, or just by entertaining through your writing.
Write your hearts out, don’t restrain yourself but in a way that it adds value to the readers.
Following the middle path has helped me a great deal and hope this approach helps you too.
By the way, I would love to know how do you approach writing? What’s your way?