My journey as a writer is approaching a decade now. I have been sporadically documenting the path going from writing for fun, to writing for funds. I have learned a lot during this time. Would you like to know my conclusion about the process? It is complicated. I cannot stop there and give you that vague answer though. So let me break it down a little more.
There's a place for us.
There is a place in this world for talented writers. There are billions of people wanting their stories heard. This creates both a tremendous audience and a tremendously large, noisy crowd to contend with. If you want to write for money, you must write about things that people (most likely a corporation or industry leader) would like to pay for.
Selling or sell out?
One thing that is quickly learned is that money is not the best indicator of what is valuable subject matter for humanity. Therefore, we choose. We choose to pursue the subject matter of most interest to us, the writer, and all else be damned. Or we choose to write about the things that others want to pay for. Those blessed few who are able to have a passion that people are willing to pay for are extremely fortunate--and rare.
About the bills.
I am $16,000 in debt from my Communication Degree. I wonder if it is worth it. I thought the process was interesting, engaging. I felt like I was accomplishing things. I was extremely happy that I did this in my forties instead of my twenties. If I had gone through this process when I was younger I may have allowed it to define me more. When a person is in her forties she knows who she is and what she is capable of, for better or worse. The process held me accountable to my writing process and that is the most important gift that the process of gaining a degree brought to bear in my experience.
About the cost.
Why does the cost of the degree matter? It matters because unless a person makes a decision to give ALL of themselves to the writing. ALL time, ALL energy (and then some), ALL self; it is very unlikely that a writer will be able to make a living otherwise. Working as a writer is ALL CONSUMING! For some it is a calling and not a choice. It matters not that it is all consuming. However for anyone wanting relationships, children, and other things to happen in life simultaneously, it is a serious decision to make. If it is your calling perhaps the decision has been made for you. If you came to this calling late in the game, as I have, the decision becomes what are you willing to give up to make enough room for the writing to make something of it.
For all those out there who are still hungry, who still have that craving for the keyboard. I say go for it! Learn all you can learn about your craft and give it every second you can. Between the demands and the obligations of life. Sneak away for awhile for you and your writing. Your voice is needed by someone. It is not your job per say to know who that someone is. Just do your best to craft your message for them. Perhaps it will touch them, move them, inspire them. And after all isn't that what it is all about? I think the money comes later, like love, it comes when you least expect it. But you must create yourself first. Create yourself as a writer, the best writer you can be, and when that happens. The rest of it comes with the work.
Good luck fellow writers!
Sophia Tesch is a graduate of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. Sophia is a community advocate. She lives in San Tan Valley, Arizona with her husband and children.