How to Balance Your Fiction Writing with Writing for Pay

by Jeanette the Writer
published in Writing

For many fiction and nonfiction writers, words are their whole life. But there are those who take it to extremes. When not typing away at their epic battles, romantic encounters, or lists of how-to’s, they’re working daylight hours at paid blogging, copywriting, and other word-involved jobs. Writing can be difficult, and we all need breaks from it. So, how do these writers do it? How do you balance writing for fun and writing for pay?

Find a Way to Separate the Two Activities

Remember Pavlov’s dogs? The goal here is to create a similar response in ourselves that switches our brain from work mode to creating mode. There are all sorts of tricks you can use to separate the two activities.

For example, Lori, our Operations Maven, changes both her medium and her physical location to signal a shift in the type of writing. Specifically, she switches from her desktop to her laptop or a pad of paper and moves from her office to her kitchen bar when she goes from writing for pay to writing for play. 

Like superheroes, you can also change your outfit when you transition from one thing to the next. Personally, I have a set of working shoes I wear during the day and then I switch to my writing slippers when I’m ready to get creative. 

Write What You Love

Be it for pay or for fun, you need to be writing about things you love. If your paid writing is far outside your sphere of expertise or you struggle to find joy in the topics you’re assigned, it’s going to be that much harder to bring up the will to write creatively after slogging through the day. Writing about subjects you love in both work and play can help ensure the creative juices keep flowing.

Find Your “Why”

Similar to knowing and writing what you love, finding your “why” goes deeper and asks what it is that motivates you to write in each of your chosen arenas. Has it been a dream since childhood to hold your book in your hands? Do you want to be known for amazing ad campaigns for top-notch companies? Sometimes the motivation is monetary and other times it’s based on recognition that comes with being published. Knowing why you write creatively and why you write as a job can help keep up motivation when the going gets tough.

Treat them Both Like Jobs

No matter how good of a writer you are, you only have so many hours you can dedicate to writing in a day, only so much mental capacity. Schedule your creative writing time in the same way you would schedule writing for your clients. Give your novel or memoir the same weight and importance as your money-making words. You might also gather “coworkers” for each type of writing in the form of critique groups or business co-working groups.

When it comes to branching out from fiction to writing for pay, there can be certain pitfalls. Writing is tough. Every writer runs into frustrations, boring projects, and going cross-eyed after staring too long at lines of text on a screen. But you can make it easier on yourself by following the tips above. 

Tell us in the comments below: How do you find balance writing for fun and writing for pay?


Jeanette the Writer is a freelance editor and writer based in Dallas, TX. When not at the computer, you can find her crafting, scuba diving, or posting pictures of her cats on Instagram. Visit JeanettetheWriter.com for more info and follow @JeanettetheWriter on Instagram and Facebook or @JeanettetheWrtr on Twitter.

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