How Do You Write What You Want and Still Make a Living?

When the romantic side of writing meets reality

Diona L. Reeves
6 min readMay 5

Photo by Michael Fenton on Unsplash

In a recent post, Linda Kowalchek noted, “I write what I want when I want.”

I approach the craft of writing the same way. But in a world filled with creators and SEO-driven content, how do you do this and make a living?

When it comes to writing, I’ve always been more romantic than realistic. As a teen, I envisioned days spent in a home office, surrounded by bookshelves. Inspiration filled the space as I plunked away on my typewriter with nothing to interrupt the creative process.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I first glimpsed this dream. Having failed to stick with a job or post-graduate path long enough to make any substantial gains, I took a chance at writing full time. FINALLY.

I moved into an old cabin my parents owned, a copy of Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write buried in my few boxes of belongings. My time those first few weeks was spent in contemplation. I mentally reviewed all that had gone wrong in my work life to that point. I mulled over what I truly wanted in life.

Sitting on the front porch, watching my dog nose around the yard, I reveled in the peace and solitude of my surroundings. My soul was content.

Being in that moment checked all the boxes for me except one: I wasn’t making enough money to survive. I wasn’t making anything, really. A story I submitted to The First Line was published, as was a blurb in a pet magazine about the dangers of self-care when your pet needs legitimate medical treatment. During that stint, I earned a whopping $225 and a few copies of each story for my portfolio.

Had I built upon this experience — followed the suggestions of John M. Wilson in The Complete Guide to Magazine Article Writing and repurposed my content to appeal to other markets and publications — who knows where life would have taken me?

Instead of putting my work ethic to use and churning out viable submissions, I busied myself with things that didn’t matter. (It’s my favorite form of procrastination!)

  • I built a blog website long before it was the norm — but did little to advance it beyond a few entries.

Diona L. Reeves

Author of The Prescott Diaries. Writes articles on productivity, the writing process, and this thing called life.