Bad ways of finding the time and space to write

Hello friends. I’ve been working hard on the Cynical Writer’s Guide To The Publishing Industry (out May 4th), so I decided to lead off today’s blog entry with an extract about bad wayd of finding the time and money to write:


There’s no simple way to get more money and spend less time working without accepting more risk, and it’s outside the scope of this book to solve the essential problem of modern industrial existence (working sux).

But there are a few solutions that I would not advise:

  • Waiting until you’re retired – It makes me unbelievably sad when people talk about all the books they’re going to write ‘when they’re retired.’ Which is not to say that people don’t do this! Plenty of people take up writing when they’re retired, and many of those people sell books. But…I don’t know. It makes me sad. Whatever good thing a person gets from writing a book, it comes from the actual writing of the book. Every moment you delay is a moment you’re not getting that goodness. If you’re not actually writing, all you have is the bad stuff: the longing and the sorrow and the bitterness.
  • Trying to develop a source of passive income – There’s a popular book called The Four-Hour Work Week. I haven’t read it, but my impression is that the book purports to teach you how to make money without doing any work. Well, Tim Ferriss, the author of the book, really has it figured out: he makes money passively from selling his stupid books. “A passive income” is just another way of saying “rents from ownership of capital”. It’s immaterial whether that capital is an apartment building, or the intellectual property involved in a book, or your own equity in some sort of law firm where you get a portion of what junior partners bring in. It’s all about owning valuable things. Look around you right now: do you own any valuable things? Probably not! It’s very difficult to come into ownership of valuable things. It’s also very difficult to write and sell books. It makes no sense to make one difficult thing contingent on doing another difficult thing. Even achieving one of these goals (either publishing a book, or becoming wealthy, which is essentially what ‘earning passive income’ means) is difficult. Pick the one you care most about and stick to that one.
  • Starting your own business as a means of getting rich – See above. Most of the ‘profits’ of any small business come from what’s called the ‘sweat equity’ of the business owners. To put it plainly, when someone owns their own business they tend to work longer and harder than any employee ever would. Oftentimes, they do not pay themselves nearly as much as an employee would get paid for the same work. Owning a business, whether it’s a doctor’s office or a restaurant or a side-job rehabbing and flipping houses, is almost always a bad financial decision for the owner. They’d be better off financially doing exactly the same job for someone else as an employee. Which is not to say you shouldn’t start your own business: I’m just saying you should do it for the thing itself, not because you’re expecting to make a lot of money and eventually retire and have time to write.’

I’m looking forward to releasing this book, but I am also looking forward to the release of the paperback version of We Are Totally Normal, which I feel contractually obligated to shill for. Because this week the Amazon workers in Bessemer are on strike, I’ll link to the Bookshop link to buy it.

Happy Friday!

EDIT: In classic fashion I decided to do actual research only after writing and publishing the post and found that the workers aren’t on strike and they don’t support a boycott. Go figure.

2 thoughts on “Bad ways of finding the time and space to write

  1. jyvurentropy

    Here is where you’re wrong on passive income: smut. I know a TON of writers who publish a whole backlist of amazon smut and they money they make from that funds their more serious projects.
    You definitely can create a passive income writing, if you write very niche or strange and/or disturbing erotica.

    1. jyvurentropy

      Also writing amazon smut isn’t very hard or time-consuming. You have to do some research on blurbs and tropes, etc. But writing the actual smut takes only 2 or 3 hours.

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