Writing: For What It’s Worth

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For a few months now, I’ve been working on a copywriting project made up of very adult content. And so, I’ve been spending my weekends at Barnes & Noble, researching sexting and lube and anal sex for beginners and writing furiously. A few weeks ago, upon telling my husband about the latest topic I was researching, he smirked and said, “I’m sorry, but I just can’t take your work seriously.”

I get the feeling this is a problem many writers have, even if they aren’t writing about nude wrestling and shower sex.

The thing is, this is the most lucrative project I’ve landed to date, lending it an extra bit of legitimacy as far as I’m concerned. Not only that, but the content is important to me. Having struggled for years with sexual dysfunction as the result of an abusive relationship, it means a lot to me to be able to provide helpful content to other individuals and couples who are experiencing the same or similar difficulties.

I worry that attitudes such as the one displayed by my husband* contribute to the difficulties many writers have in placing a monetary value on their work. (Freelance Folder has a great post on setting rates, btw.) After all, how could something that’s so much fun to do — something that you couldn’t actually live without doing — be considered “work”? Why charge top dollar for something that many consider nothing more than a hobby?

When such doubts creep in, I find it helpful to remind myself that I’m providing a service and, judging by the quality of some of the raw content I’ve seen as an editor, writing is not something just anyone can do. So yes: Both my skills and my time are well worth paying for.

On top of this, writing has additional value. Yes, it’s a delight. And yes, you can make a pretty penny off of it. But that’s not everything. Just ask any writer why they write, and you’ll see.

Why do I write? To connect with others and, using both honesty and humor, make them feel less alone.

Why do you write?

All of this is to say that writing is a very serious prospect indeed. So stop smirking.

*I don’t want to give the impression that my husband is an unfeeling, insensitive ogre. On the contrary, he’d probably do just about anything for me and, when all is said and done, I think I chose quite wisely when I decided to marry a web developer/designer.

Related: Knowing My Own Self-Worth, Writers Undermining Writers: Bidding Sites, Traffic-Based Compensation, and More, Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?, My 5 Favorite Things In: What To Charge, Better Than Money


  1. I went through this recently when I shifted from doing health writing (which I still do) to doing more first person (blogging, memoir, etc). The health writing pays our mortgage. The first person writing was and still is a career investment. At first I made zero dollars doing it, so I didn’t take it seriously. It was still writing, but I saw it as a hobby. And then, even once I started making some money doing it–a small book deal, a small blogging gig here and there, an essay placed in a newspaper, getting paid to give a speech because of the first person writing, etc–I STILL saw it as a hobby. And because I saw it as a hobby, so did my husband. I ended up having a big smack down with myself that I realized that this was very much a part of my career. We’d once invested heavily in my husband’s career. He opened a business that earned him zero income for two years. Could I not feel worthy of this writing that was already bringing in some income? Yes, I could.

    And once I valued it, he fell into line.

  2. This is a really interesting post. I write for so many different reasons: to make money, to express myself, to satisfy an itch. But I’m afraid that many people who are not writers don’t realize the discipline and hard work it takes to be actually be and succeed as a writer. Until, of course, they have to sit down and actually compose something…then, after asking for my help, they eat crow (maybe).

  3. @Alisa: That’s such an important point: If you don’t value your own writing as anything more than a hobby, why should your husband? Though writing is such a huge part of my career, I must admit, I have so much trouble asking for what I deserve ($-wise). I’m sure that unsure attitude must have some sort of effect on how others view and value my work.

    @Sheryl: Amen to that! This stuff is hard work!

  4. steph,

    i just found your blog through betsy lerner’s. (you’re my latest RSS feed. it’s true–blogging works!)

    this post reminded me of a discussion my husband and i had when i left him with our two kiddos for a weekend of writing to make some headway on a novel i’m trying to bust out…

    Endearing words from my loving husband as I prepare to leave for my weekend of writing:

    “You could be the next Diane Steele…isn’t she the one that writes those love books? What are they? Sex books?”

  5. @amyg: Ha! Love it. Your husband and my husband would probably get along famously. 🙂

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