Yes, I’ve read the book ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’. Despite what I may think about the personal finance advice it offered, I still remember it fondly for two things. One, reading this book marked the beginning of reading, learning and writing about all things money for me and this has served me well – The Money Principle is a top ranking personal finance blog.
And two, the author of the book mentioned something in passing that I keep thinking about; he said that he is a ‘best selling’ not a ‘best writing’ author. This made me reconsider the way in which I’ve been thinking about writing.
Mostly I’ve seen writing as part of my job. I am a full professor in a well ranking British university; to get to and stay at the top in academe today one ought to write. It is an entirely different matter that academic writing is often fairly formulaic and can easily become boring; on top of that many academics, particularly ones in the social sciences and humanities, hide the muddle of their notions and to a degree the impotence of their ideas behind impenetrable jargon.
Early on in my career, I decided that I’ll never forget that the only point in writing is that readers can make sense of your text. When colleagues ask me how do I decide that my academic articles are ready for submission to a journal, I tell them that this usually happens between the twelfth and the sixteenth version. Yep, even academic texts become better every time you re-write them. It pays off: colleagues often write to tell me that they find my articles not only useful but also pleasurable to read.
Still, my academic writing is only part of my job.
Couple of years ago, I got really bored with academic writing and I was ready to try something else. Writing a novel is something I’ve always dreamt about but never approached seriously – I suppose that it is too big a jump. Writing a novel demands consistent and prolonged effort which I can’t guarantee I could do with all my academic writing. Even I can’t maintain more than one obsessions at the time.
I started a blog. But again, although writing a blog for over two years is exactly the kind of discipline that budding writers need, writing was part of the job. In fact, one of the mistakes I made was focusing too much on the writing and neglecting the technical and networking sides of blogging.
Until now writing has been part of my job; now my intention is to make it my work!
I reckon that there are two conditions to become a ‘best paid writer’ and start making £100,000 per year in five years time: sterling reputation and diversity.
This kind of pay can’t be achieved by volume; it has to be achieved by quality. But there are a fair few who are good writers and who just about manage to scrape a living. What I am thinking is that a transition from ‘selling labour’ to selling reputation is necessary here. To achieve this reputation I will have to break into the top sites, newspapers and publishers; and write the kind of stuff that people want to and enjoy reading.
Please, someone, tell me that this is not possible! (A known trick of mine; I look for people to tell me that something is impossible and then go on to achieve it.)
This kind of income cannot be generated by doing only one thing, like writing for websites for instance. If it is possible at all, it would be possible as a combination of current writing (for media of different kinds); internet properties like blogs and income from best-selling books (and other information products).
OK, I know that this is not very specific but it is a start! Wish me luck; it looks like I’ll need it.