Write What You Love — The Money Will Follow

by jeanieransom on August 19, 2011

What if you got to write about anything you wanted and know that it would be published? Sounds like a dream come true, right?

If so, then I am living the dream, at least for the next year, as I write a column for the St. Louis Suburban Journal. Of course, like most things in life, there are strings attached. In my case, the strings include having an editor okay my topic and writing for free.

Fortunately for me, the editor and I are on the same page as far as what’s an appropriate topic for a family-friendly newspaper. But the writing for free part?

I don’t usually condone writing articles for publications that don’t pay, with two exceptions. The first is if you’re a writer just starting out and you need clips (articles with your byline) to build your publication credits. The second is if you’d like to play around with writing in a different genre, and an opportunity presents itself.

In either case, writing articles for little or no money is something that should be time-limited, unless you’ve volunteered to do a column for your church or school newsletter. Yes, seeing an article you wrote with your name as the author is an exciting event that most people never experience.

But once you get those first few credits under your belt, it’s time to get paid for your writing. So, why am I writing a newspaper column for free? As someone who’s written for national magazines for years, as well as six children’s books, I’m not exactly a newbie. But I have been wanting to play around with writing in a different arena, and the opportunity to be a newspaper columnist for the next year lets me do that.

I don’t think that I’ll ever give up writing books to be a columnist. But I may find that I enjoy writing personal essays and opinion pieces enough to continue doing so. With the clips I’ll have from my columnist gig, I’ll be able to submit to magazines that pay for that type of article.

Writing for different genres can help you discover your true north when it comes to being an author. It’s also a good exercise for anyone who wants to stretch a different set of writing muscles.

You can write for love. You can write for money. When you can do both, now, that’s really a dream come true.

To see my first column for The Suburban Journal, click on this link: http://www.stltoday.com/suburban-journals/stcharles/opinion/article_5b060e97-b99d-5d84-a120-b2aeb96536d0.html. To get updates when I have a new column or blog post,  follow me on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/JeanieRansom.

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