How to Write For Money AND Love

    Do you struggle between writing for passion or profit?

    At some point, every writer realizes that it’s not enough just to write for money, or simply to write for love.

    To sustain a fruitful long-term relationship with writing, you need to dance between the two, which can be sometimes difficult, often exhausting.

    We become writers because we love to write.

    We want to share our opinion on things that matters to us, expressed in ways that no one’s used before.

    Yet, if we don’t earn an income, the time and space to write that we so desperately cling to, can come in danger of being replaced by a full-time job.

    So how can you feed your soul even as you earn the income to feed your body?

    By finding a balance.

    In the twelve years that I’ve been freelancing for a living and writing for myself (I start work on novel #2 this week), I’ve found several ways to write for money and love. Even better, I’ve found that sometimes, the work you’re most passionate about ends up making you the most money anyway.

    Here’s how I keep both parts of my writerly identity in balance.

    #1. Work on both every single day

    Except weekends, of course, because you need time to recharge.

    During the week, however, make it a point to spend time on the work that you’re passionate about and the work that will pay the bills.

    Most writers find it easy to ignore one or the other, but they’re both important, so make sure you’re devoting time to each.

    #2. Have separate writing spaces

    One of the best things I ever did—by accident—was writing fiction in a completely different area of my home than I did my nonfiction work that pays the bills.

    I didn’t realize it at the time but by creating artificial boundaries, I was training my mind to view each setting differently and therefore, to work differently.

    When I arrived at my desk each morning, ready to tackle my deadlines, my mind immediately went into the productive worker bee mode, where I had to get tasks finished and articles written and sent.

    When I came to my little nook on the couch, however, my mind was free to wander, observe, and create much more slowly.

    #3. Give yourself deadlines

    Of course you have deadlines for the work that pays the bills—you would never get around to doing it otherwise.

    But have you considered that perhaps the reason that novel took three years to write (guilty!) is because you never assigned a weekly target or a completion date to it?

    When work gets busy, the things we love to write are often the first to take a backseat. By assigning yourself deadlines for your personal projects—big or small—you ensure that this doesn’t happen routinely.

    #4. Have a monthly income goal and stop when you meet it

    This is a big tip, and a difficult one.

    Mostly because if you’re like most writers, you’ll be overambitious in terms of setting that goal in the first place, and then you’ll try and exceed it when you do hit it.


    Figure out how much you absolutely need as income from your writing on a monthly basis. Seriously, just sit down and run the numbers. How much do you have to make to sustain your career? If you’re able to get to that number by the 15th, you have 15 days to play around with projects that don’t make money yet, but if you get to that number only on the 29th, you have just one full day for your own writing.

    This keeps you motivated for both personal projects and income-generating ones. The faster you get through the latter, the quicker you can move on to the writing that really makes you tick.

    #5. For every 4,000 words you write for pay, write 1,000 words for fun

    I like to spice up my writing and set up challenges that make my writing routine fun. (What can I say? I’m easily distracted.) So I make up fun rules for myself every once in a while to keep it interesting.

    When I was at my workaholic worst, I implemented this rule so that I could stay connected to my novel (passion project) and force myself into taking a break from the paying work that sucked up my days.

    #6. Mix passion with work

    Sometimes, your passion will overlap with the work you do for a living.

    In my own career, the work that I was most passionate about ended up winning me two international awards and earned me more cash than any other assignment ever has.

    Why? Because when you’re passionate about something, you go out and find the stories on that topic that no one else does, you talk to the people no one else wants to talk to, and you dig up research and statistics that no one else will go looking for.

    When you’re passionate about something, you stop counting the hours you’ve spent on it. You simply give it your all.

    And you end up earning more as a result.

    #7. Develop the habit of submitting

    Your passion projects need to be sent out into the world just like your income-generating ones do.

    They need to find their way, bring home some money, and eventually become income generators in themselves.

    And when that happens, you’ll find that the work you love and the income you generate are both in sync.

    To become a successful writer, you need to focus on both parts of the equation— the passion you feel for your career, and your ability to bring in the cash.

    Passion without the profit can send you straight to another day job that you don’t want, while profit without passion threatens to suck all the joy out of something you love.

    Find both and you’ll not only be a successful writer, but also a happy one.

    Do you write for love, money, or both? Share in the comments, please!
    About the author: 

    Mridu Khullar Relph is an award-winning freelance writer who has written for The New York Times, TIME, CNN, and more. She runs The International Freelancer and happily shares 21 of her best query letters with subscribers of her free weekly newsletter.

    About the author

      Mridu Khullar Relph

    • Jared says:

      Today i spent 300 dollars for platinium roulette system , i hope that
      i will make my first $$$ online

    • Olaf R says:

      I totally agree with you, Erin!

    • Erin Bartlett says:

      Even though I think I’m not bad as a writer, earning some money from my writing would be a terrific endorsement for me…

    • Mary,
      Appreciate your insight. I don’t think selling my writing is even a little bit close to “selling my soul”; I’ll still have my soul after paying the rent, feeding my cat, and paying $10 to see a movie. I don’t write for money—I actually did write for money when I did technical and grant writing. No way I would’ve done that boring crap to feel creative and nurture my self-identify. Now, I write because—well, because that’s what I do. Of course, I want to be read, and if I am being read I’ll probably get paid for it. But when writing, I think about the story, not dollar signs.

      I do not think a writer needs to be making money before he or she is a “real” writer. The way I see it, if an astronaut is an astronaut before she gets locked inside a metal container on top of huge tubes filled with millions of pounds of explosive gas and is then blasted into outer space, why isn’t a writer a writer before she publishes a story? I think I’m a writer, therefore I am one. And when somebody tells me he or she is a writer, that’s all the proof I need. I don’t need their bank statement to prove it.

    • love is the defination wroingly used all over world.
      actually it is the relation between god and us.
      it is misplaced by all films, serials
      it is shown as vasna in all over world
      love is the bonding of god ( allah, bhagwan, waheguru) & people
      we can win this world with the help of love
      love can change our life
      if we have in our heart, we can convince anyone
      if we have love in our heart, we must spread this message
      we must love god always. god will always help us
      we forgot love between family members
      we forgot love for our parents
      in this world , now love seems to be only from boy & girl
      we should love all our family members

    • M P WARD says:

      I totally agree with this, thanks for sharing. I work three days to survive and write for two. I have two published books and I have set a deadline for completing the third book by Christmas. Of course writing is my passion, and it is frustrating having to leave it to go and earn a crust. Hopefully one day I will earn enough from my books to write full time.


      M P WARD

    • HI Mridu,
      I liked your post. I write for passion and for work. Deadlines are really important for professional writers, whereas goals can help those who want to turn a passion into a monthly income.

      I also like that you explained how important it is to submit. We all learn by finishing.

      Kind Regards,
      Bryan Collins

    • Good post!

      I think it’s easy to forget about writing for fun when you’re focused on writing for profit. Yet, as you point out, doing so can help writers long-term.

      I especially like the practical list of ways to combine writing that you love with other writing projects.

      • Thanks, Laura! Having been in that position, I know that without fun, burnout is just a matter of time. And writing becomes just another job. To keep the passion alive, you need to have fun with it every now and again.

    • Of course another important point is whether writing for money is really ‘selling your soul’.

      If a writer is passionate about writing and wants to choose writing as a career, making some money from writing is a necessary move.

      • True. The Pulitzer prize isn’t given to unpublished writing. Someone was not only paid for it, but they wrote it FOR pay.

    • Actually, I agree with Natalia.

      Just think of writers, like Donna Tartt. She wrote for a long time without having any readers.

      Now, she’s received the Pulitzer Prize for her last novel, The Goldfinch.

      And think of all the writers who write in their private journals. Nobody reads their journals, but they are still writers – and definitely not ‘scribblers’.

      • Mary,
        This post and the comments inspired me to add a sentence to my blog’s About Page: “If a writer writes a novel in the woods, and none of the bears wants to read it, is he still a writer?”

    • Absolutely, Mridu. There’s a trade-off between writing for fun and money. If a writer has no readers, they’re not writers – just scribblers. But many people are happy to scribble for their own fun. Why bring money into the equation? Many of the students in my own story writing program would be aghast at the thought of writing for money, or being driven by the market’s demands. They’d be selling their souls!

      • Natalia says:

        With all do respect, but writer is still a writer, even if he doesn’t have readers. Not at all, but just for now. You may not have readers for a long time, but still you are a writer, you work, you develop, and one day readers will be.

      • Hi John,

        Thanks for your comment. I have absolutely no issue with writers who scribble for their own fun, that’s totally okay and for some, perhaps a completely valid choice. For people who’ve chosen to make writing their career, however, money has to play a role because without it, we’d be forced to find work in other fields (I was an engineer– gah!) and not be able to do this work and writing that we so love.

        And you know, writing for money can help hone your craft as well. Some of my best work has come out of paid assignments, from editors who were at the top of their game and helped me grow as a writer.

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