The challenges of living as a writer in the 21st century

I’ve only published 2 short stories in print and received nothing but a small cash prize for one of them. Not payment as such. Being a paid writer is something I aspire to. To be paid one day for the work I write would allow me to have the focussed writing life I’ve long desired, a chance to tell stories, explore ideas and develop my craft. But the market likelihood of this ever happening seems to lessen year by year by the corrosion of creative copyright laws and a digitally minded society with generations who increasingly resent paying for anything.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/02/bestseller-novel-to-bust-author-life

This somewhat disheartening but realistic survey of the state of things for writers wishing to write for a living summarizes the problems anyone considering writing as a profession, rather than writing for a hobby. Not that I’m disparaging the values of writing as a hobby – there are many – but rather a situation surrounding creative copyright that would have us all content providers but not a one getting paid. Technology disseminates, enables and living it with is inevitable but if the only people who make any money are the handful who run the digital distribution platforms,  the content providers – designers, filmmakers, musicians, writers must look elsewhere for an income. A situation that might well result in a era of bust for independent authorship, free voice or original thinking. It will certainly mean a lean time of belt tightening for anyone desiring an old fashioned life of letters. The challenge for writers is to find ways of reinventing this notion of a committed and serious life of words while staying true to its heart and purpose and the personal and creative integrity that that entails.

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2 thoughts on “The challenges of living as a writer in the 21st century

  1. Hello, just discovered your interesting blog and I like your thoughtful and well-written posts.
    I agree the role of the writer is changing. Now anybody can publish anything, and much is available for free, how do writers make a living? Maybe not in the traditional manner. But more people are reading more books than ever before. Digital publishing gives authors absolute control over what they publish and how they publish. The middle-men are no longer needed.
    The problem is that we are standing at the edge of a whirlwind of change and, because the dust hasn’t settled yet, it is difficult to see a clear way ahead. Exciting times.

    1. Hi Ruth, Thanks for your comments. Sorry for delay in replying – as you may have noticed I am rather preoccupied with expecting my second child at the moment! Any day in fact. Seems from your blog that you have a pretty good idea yourself of how to proceed getting the best for your writing even though the dust hasn’t settled yet. There are lot’s of opportunities if you can see a way through and put in the time. It’s always about putting in the time though isn’t? Good luck with all of your endeavours and be in touch son. Best Sarah.

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