Ask Me Anything about writing for fun and not money : why or why not?

Nov 13, 2017

I've been writing books and stories now for about 15 years and I've made very few dollars, pounds or euros  from it.  Thankfully it has never been a main source of income.   So why do I do it?  Could I do more to make it more lucrative?  Am I really seeking fame and fortune?  I invite you to empty my head and find out what really makes a writer continue to tap-tap-tap away at his keyboard while the rest of the world seems not to care much.  

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Conversation (49)

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What is your lifestyle, Which does you like?

Nov 18, 7:34AM EST0

Here I'm guessing, but I think most authors are like me and live dull, low-key, frugal life styles. All the exciting things happen in your head and then creep painfully on to the paper (or computer screen nowadays).  Perhaps really successful aithors might be an exception to this.

Nov 18, 7:54AM EST0

In this generation where money is crucial in a mans life, how can someone write just for fun but not for money?

Nov 18, 1:27AM EST0

HI Joseph - If you look at the past, the great writers were often people of independent means and many of them didn't make much from their writing during their lifetime.  Nowadays more people write so the competiton is greater and it is even harder to make money.  I worked all my life and I could find enough time to do all the writing I wanted to do when I retired and had money from pensions .  So in a sense I am privileged.   But if you are young and not rich and not exceptionally lucky, you have to write in your spare time and wait and hope for fame and fortune to come to you.  But I believe that if you write for fun it is more likely to do so.         

Nov 18, 5:34AM EST0

what challenges have you faced so far ?

Nov 14, 12:23PM EST0

I haven't  really found the whole process of writing challenging as such. I think that's because I have the attitude that if I want to do something, I just work away at it overcomng any obstacles I find. Sometimes it can take many attempts and a long time, and I'm still facing a few hurdles, but I'm sure I'll get over them.  Never give up!      

Nov 15, 5:57AM EST0

can l post here my fundraiser

Nov 13, 3:47PM EST0

I'm sorry I don't think this is allowed -  

Nov 14, 4:51AM EST0

What's the hardest thing about planning a book or novel?

Nov 10, 2:37AM EST0

Other authors tell me that all writers have their own way of working, so this answer is specific to me.  For me the hardest thing is to start, and by that I mean having an idea or a subject to write about.  Once you have that, I don't think any of the planing is very hard.  Ususally I take the idea and write the first chapter, then reflcet on how the story will develop, who the charcters will be and what kind of things will they get into.  I very seldom write a formal plan, but just keep the  thoughts churning in my head and add tothem as the story progresses.  I also contantly review what I've written, jsut to see if it hangs together and also to get some new directions that might take the story in a different direction.    It's a kind of a fluid planning system but it works for me - it's also a fun way to work- your imagination keeps surprising you.       

Nov 10, 8:42AM EST0

That's a tough question. I suppose it depends on what kind of book - When I was writing textbooks for English teaching ,it was quite easy: a matter of creating a format, based around lesson plans.  Novels are harder, because you start with nothing.  I'm a bad planner  - I may just have an idea and start to write, waiting to see where the story takes me.  However, at some point you have to stand back and work out a plot - and I would say the hardest thing is to take the original idea and the characters you have been creating and make a full story that will build into a novel.  I have several novels that are only 30% finished because I couldn't get past that stage.       

Nov 14, 5:19AM EST0

How do you make a living?

Nov 9, 10:35AM EST0

I am a man of leisure now, having worked all my life.  My pension fives me the freedom and time to write what I want, so I am very lucky.   

Nov 9, 11:57AM EST0

Have you got a link to your favorite article you've created so far?

Nov 9, 9:27AM EST0

I'm starting up an on-line literature magazine so you can see the first edition here at  http://www.voxlit.co.uk/ 

You'll see some of my stuff there - and it really has been written for fun - not money.  I don't have favourites, but I like the piece I did on Jane Eyre.  

Nov 9, 12:08PM EST0

What's your travel style?

Nov 9, 5:50AM EST0

I travel economy class in low-cost airlines, wehre possible.  I am always asking myself if I would still do that if I mamaged to write a best seller.  Would anyone chose this way of travelling if they didn't have to?    

Nov 9, 12:04PM EST0

Have you got a Facebook page I could like?

Nov 9, 5:25AM EST0

yes I have a facebook page at www.facebook.com/jgaultbooks/ 

Nov 9, 11:53AM EST0

How long does it take you to come up with a topic?

Nov 9, 1:51AM EST0

It doesn't take long -  a few seconds - for the idea to emerge in my head.  The problem is how often I get the inspiration.  At the moment I am having more ideas than I have time to write about.   Long may it last!  

Nov 9, 12:01PM EST0

What songs/type of music do you listen to when writing?

Nov 8, 11:19AM EST0

I don't listen to music when I am writing - does that make me a weirdo??? 

Nov 8, 12:02PM EST0

How do you know if your writing is good enough or appealing enough to outside audiences?

Nov 8, 11:03AM EST0

My message is - who cares?  Write for yourself, and the chances are that if you like it, others will.  If you want to make a commercial success of your wrtitng, there are hundreds of 'how to write' books with all sorts of tips you can follow.  I do try to stick to most of the rules, but they tend to result in formulaic works.  For me  writing is about showing readers the world from a place they don't normally stand.   Helps to be a bit funny as well, I think.  But if anyone is an author of 'How to be a successful writer' books,  feel free to tell me I'm nuts.    

Nov 8, 12:09PM EST0

I love to write, and I love to travel. How do I submit my travel pieces?

Nov 8, 1:23AM EST0

Hi Katerina, I'm sorry I'm going to disappoint you here.  I've very little experience of travel writing, but I did have a travel article published in a magazine about 20 years ago.   I just sent it to the editor and she sent it back saying fine, but get some photos to illustrate it.  So I did and they published and paid me about £200 for it - not bad for 20 years ago,  So all I can say is that travel writing seems to be about picures as well as words, but I guess you knew that already. Maybe someone else can chip in a bit better advice?   

Nov 8, 10:08AM EST0

Do you sketch your storyline before you start?

Nov 7, 8:46PM EST0

I've got to confess, Diana, I am a very disorganised writer.  Sometimes I write the first several chapters, letting the story develop in my head. even then, when I have a fair idea of how it will all play out, I seldom write anything down.   And  I may write the ending before the middle - I just do it the way I feel and how it comes out.  I'm pretty sure this isn't a good way to work, so I am not recommending it.  My only excuse: inspiration comes to you the way it comes and you have to just use it as best as you can.        

Nov 8, 10:02AM EST0

What do you think of the trend in digital media nowadays?

Nov 7, 6:36PM EST0

Joseph, digital is a brilliant opportunty for young and new writers.  I've read so many horror stories of the hunderds of rejected submissions even the most successful authors have had to suffer, and also experienced the long waiting times you can have to get a manuscript thrown back at you by the big publishers.  With digital, you can publish your e-book or print-on-command paperback as soon as you have finsihed it, investing nothing but your time and your creativity.  But maybe some of the publishers out there think this is an unfair point of view.   

Nov 8, 9:55AM EST0

How do you make an income while you are traveling?

Nov 7, 3:48PM EST0

Lucky for me I'm retired and live off my pension.  This is what gives me the freedom and time to write what I want, when I want, with no worries about whether it brings me an income or not.  I think this freedom can make your writing better,  but perhaps younger authors may not agree.    

Nov 8, 9:46AM EST0

What is your experience?

Nov 7, 3:12PM EST0

I'm not sure what kind of experience you're thinking of, Adrian.  At 71 years of age, I've had just about every kind of experience in life which helps a lot when you are trying to write.   My experience in writing started around 1970 when I sent a specialist magazine an article on computer porgramming (my job at the time).  But I'm not sure I've answered your question.   Could you be more specific and I'll do my best?  

Nov 8, 9:42AM EST0

Did you enjoy English as a child?

Nov 7, 11:36AM EST0

Can there be any writer who didn't enjoy English as a child?   If there are, I'd sure like to hear from them and how they came to take up such a difficult and challenging profession doing something they didn't like at school.  Any offers? 

Nov 8, 9:37AM EST0

Who is your favorite author?

Nov 7, 10:32AM EST0

Hi Nic, I'm afraid when it comes to love of authors I'm pretty promiscuous.   I read books for all sorts of reasons and have writers I like in every genre and type of book, so I wouldn't be able to pick out one.  I think this is a good way to be, particularly if you write yourslef, as you get to know and love a wide variety of techniques.  One among many authors I like is David Lodge, who is not only great at comic novels but has written an excellent book called the Art of Fiction which all budding writers should read.         

Nov 8, 9:32AM EST0

Have you ever been somewhere considered extremely dangerous & could you tell me more about it?

Nov 7, 8:34AM EST0

I must say I have had a pretty sheltered life.  The most dangerous place?  Probably in the car when my wife is driving.  Funny though, she says the same about when I'm driving.   Do you think experiencing danger is a source of drive and inspiration for a writer? 

Nov 7, 10:24AM EST0

What's your favorite style of writing?

Nov 7, 5:41AM EST0

That's a hard one, Hana.  I'm not body-swerving, but I find the word 'favorite', or 'favourite' where I come from, a bit of challenge.  I think the ideal is to like as much as you can, and not constrain yourself to a single favourite thing. As a reader, I'm pretty open to all styles of writing,  As a writer, I  write for myself and I hope to make myself smile, or, if I am lucky enough to be particularly inspired, even laugh.  And if I'm really lucky, I might make other people might smile as well.  

Nov 7, 10:20AM EST0

Do you have a special place where you go to be inspired?

Nov 7, 5:22AM EST0

Hi John Thanks for the question.   Sorry for the pretty mundane answer, but the truth is I'm a little bit insomniac, so I lie in bed writing in my head and then get up the next day and out it down on paper.  Isn't that what all writers do?     

Nov 7, 10:13AM EST0

How long have you been writing?

Nov 7, 12:38AM EST0

SInce I was a kid but I have been writing fiction and non fiction on and off seriously since about 2000.   It's now pretty well my main activity as I am retired, have the time and don't need to make a living.  When you see how hard it is to make an income from writing, you begin to undertsand why many of the old 'greats' had independent incomes.      

Nov 7, 4:21AM EST0

Where are you from?

Nov 6, 8:44PM EST0

Hi Rebekah  - Originally I'm from Scotland but I now live in the South of France - a conscious decison to swap rain for sunshine.  I would say Southern France and Italy are the Florida of Euproe.       

Nov 7, 4:23AM EST0
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