How to Make Your Writing Priceless

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Hannah Ohlinger for Unsplash

I’ve seen it. You’ve seen it. They’re everywhere on the Internet, and once you’ve clicked on one of them, the ads will keep popping up forever.

First, there are the ones promising great income from doing what you love to do:

  • Make $40,000/Month Writing From Home!
  • Create Ongoing Passive Income From Your Ebooks!
  • You Don’t Need to Be A Bestseller To Make Good Money Writing!

If you didn’t fall for one of those (and don’t worry if you did, we all clicked on them at one time or another), there are the ones that assume you’re not in it for the money, you just want to be a Serious Writer:

  • Learn to Write 2,000 Words/Day!
  • Write Faster, Better!
  • Five Steps That Will Make You a Bestselling Writer!

If you listen long enough, you’ll learn that just by following this method (and sending in your $49… or $249… or $2,490) you can make a fabulous living, become a famous and skilled writer, and generally learn all the secrets that will make your writing life happy, lucrative, and productive.

They generally come with some sort of testimonial: This is how I made my millions on the Internet, by following this simple method and then sitting back and watching the profits come rolling in. But you know what? That wasn’t enough for me! I wanted to share this with you. So from now until midnight on Saturday, you can access my secret for only…

Um, sorry, over here? If this method made you so rich that all you do now is sit around your pool sipping exotic adult beverages, then why the hell are you spending this time, effort, and expense creating, packaging, and selling this class?

But let’s put that aside. Let’s just think about what is involved in writing. It’s a process. It’s a difficult process. I do a lot of different kinds of writing, from poetry to advertising (and actually you’d be surprised how often those two seem to intersect) and it’s all difficult. Every time you write you’re reaching inside yourself to find the concepts, the ideas, the right words… and you’re simultaneously reaching outside yourself to communicate something. And here’s the thing: it’s not (necessarily) that you want a new Volvo in your driveway. It’s about being the best you can be at what you do.

Yes, the Internet is indeed a place where unscrupulous people can make a great living off unsuspecting earnest innocent aspiring writers. So’s the real world. The Internet is also a place where a writer can communicate with an amazing scope of people — for critiques, for sharing, for making someone’s life easier, even for selling. The Internet has no soul: it’s no better or worse than, say, the telephone or the printing press. If you wouldn’t fall for a get-rich-quick scheme in your non-digital life, don’t change the rules just because you’re online.

Writing will always be hard work; the rewards will be erratic and not always what you want. That’s the deal. That’s the only deal. In spite of knowing that, some of us will keep writing, and success will come in various different ways. If you want to invest your money in making a living writing, then take a class, a workshop, a seminar, something that will hone your skills and challenge your craft, not something that promises a “trick” that will solve all your problems.

Will doing that make you millions? Probably not. Will it make you a better writer? Absolutely.

And, to borrow the words of another copywriter, that makes it… priceless.

Written by

Bestselling novelist of mystery and historical fiction. Writer, editor, & business storyteller at

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