You’re a REAL WRITER Even If You Have Made Only One Penny

Louise Foerster
Feb 17 · 4 min read
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Writers write.

That’s what distinguishes a real writer from a wannabe writer. You wrote words.

These words that you wrote might be masterpieces, lyrical and touching and laugh-out-loud funny or heartbreaking, soul-piercing tragic — readers salivate when they see that you are the author of a new piece. The words might also be thudding horrors of trite, obvious, generic, derivative — driving readers from your work forever more.

Whatever the result, you wrote the words. They are down and they are done.

Whether you share them with another person, publish them, or submit them for publication, you are a writer because you wrote the words.

Money may or may not come as a consequence of your bold creation.

Many words don’t earn their creator one dull penny. This result does not mean that the words weren’t any good or worth reading. It means that the writer did not submit, did not publish, did not get them into a paying situation.

I write to know what I think.” — Joan Didion

Didion is not the only writer to declare that writing brings awareness and refines thinking.

For many of us, we don’t know what we think until we get it on the page and look at it. We prod it to see what it does and learn something that we didn’t know before.

Writing can be the truest way to explore and express what you think of a complex, fraught issue — and allow you to breathe deeply again. Possibly, you can inspire others to do the same deep exploration and consideration from different angles:

You do not have to be the first or only person to write about a topic. What you do have to do is to approach it from your own experience and perspective and do the best that you can with it — and possibly learn something that you didn’t know about yourself.

You can learn what you think, get the difficult story expressed so it’s not banging around in your head. You can write to comfort, to incite, to inform, to educate, to entertain.

If you’re Mary Higgins Clark, you can write to support your family when you are left penniless when your husband dies. Clark was a storyteller from the time she was a little girl in the Bronx, standing at the top of the steps and declaring stories to her friends.

Clark has achieved fame and made a fortune writing mysteries for decades. She isn’t the first and she definitely won’t be the last writer to captivate readers and convince people to pay for her stories.

Here on Medium, we are exhorted, encouraged, and instructed how to make serious money — or at least more than one penny — from writing and publishing our stories, poems, essays, and articles.

Who wouldn’t want to make money to pay the rent, the tuition bill, the loan from your person of last resort?


We’re not all here to make money, to earn fame and fortune and adoration. Wonderful results are not our business.

Writing is.

Writers write.

If you make one penny writing about your cat, you’re a writer.

You’re a writer because you wrote the story, not because you made the penny.

If you write for more than making money, you’re in incredible company. There are thousands of us here because we absolutely must write stories and read them and discuss them with other writers. There are thousands of us here who are dying to find that story that expresses exactly how we feel. There are thousands who are thirsting to learn, to see a different angle, to be surprised and delighted.

Some of us write and publish because we feel it is that one small thing that we can do to express our gratitude and respect for the writers who share their own stories with us.

So, even if you don’t make more than that single, dull penny, you’re one penny richer than you were before you wrote your story — and you can claim to be a paying writer. This will make a huge difference for managing boring jerks who cannot think of anything to say to a writer after you turn down the chance to write their INCREDIBLE story for them.

Jerk-face idiot says, “So you make any money at writing?” Sniggers into their drink, looks over your head to see if there’s anyone better to get to know.

You say, “Yes. I earn money writing my blog.”

There’s no need to go into details. It’s boring and it’s rude. There are boundaries. And there are much more interesting people to talk to across the room…

One penny richer, writer status assured, one jerk sent packing….

That story, that result?

Worth every penny you’ve made so far.

“The most helpful quality a writer can cultivate is self-confidence — arrogance, if you can manage it. You write to impose yourself on the world, and you have to believe in your own ability when the world shows no sign of agreeing with you.” — Hilary Mantel

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Louise Foerster

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Writes "A snapshot in time we can all relate to - with a twist." Novelist, marketer, business story teller, new product imaginer…

The Startup

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