An uncomfortable truth (about writing)
An uncomfortable truth (about writing)

To quote Victoria Schwab, if you love anything more than writing, do that instead.

Please read this, fellow writer. This is one of those posts I like to call armor: it may not be comfortable, but it’s important, and if you put it on, you will last in the writing business.

Here’s the gist: If you don’t love it, don’t do it.

Did you feel that in your gut? Because I did.

Today, I chatted with a long-time friend and author JM Frey who is legitimately someone I’d love to be when I grow up. She has an agent who loves her stuff. She has a huge body of work. She has multiple awards, and such expertise in sci-fi/fantasy and fandom that she’s even appeared in documentaries and the like.

She is awesome. And you know what? She still has to work three jobs.

She is Not Alone.

It brought to mind Jay Lake, who was one of the most vibrant, funny, talented, hard-working writers I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. (Damnable cancer took him, and he is MISSED.)

He was clever, creative, and willing to explore award-winning fantasy in ways few others did in his time. Seriously. He freaking won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer (2004). He’s the one who really taught me that it can take more than a decade of writing before you get your big break, and that’s a psychological gift I needed.  Jay was amazing.

He still had to work what he called the Day Jobbe, because otherwise, he couldn’t pay his bills.

Bummed Out Yet?

Look, I know this is not what you want to hear. You want the “six steps to earning your living as a writer” trick, because we all want that, but I wouldn’t be helping you if I pretended it was that easy.

The fact is you may never make enough money from your writing to give up your day jobbe. And if you don’t, what will you do?

Will you quit?

Will you abandon the stories, characters, worlds you created and just give up?

The Truth: Yes, It’s Worth It To Keep Going

There is no real way to predict how your writing career will go. There is only one thing you can predict: if you keep writing, you will become a good writer.

Yes, you’ll find readers. Through my writing, I’ve met new friends, actually gained fans, and somehow earned followers who enjoy the writing journey as much as I do. They’re WONDERFUL. And I can’t support myself with my writing, either.

That doesn’t mean I’m a failure as a writer. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, either.

Why do you write? Do you write stories you love? Do you feel satisfaction when you’ve finished? Do you know joy when someone reads it and enjoys it?

If you love writing, you can be a writer. If you keep writing, you’ll be a good writer. Beyond that, nothing is guaranteed.

One more time: don’t do this for fame. Don’t do this for money. Do it because you love it – and if you do, you’ll keep going.

If you love writing, you can be a writer. If you keep writing, you’ll be a good writer. Beyond that, nothing is guaranteed.


A three-times bestselling author, Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and been the keynote speaker for the Write Practice Retreat. Author of two series with five books and fifty-plus short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom and used up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon in the process. When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away. P.S. Red is still her favorite color.