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Stephen King on Writing for the Money

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Excerpt from Chapter 16 of Part 4, “On Writing,” in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing

One more matter needs to be discussed, a matter that bears directly on that life-changer and one that I’ve touched on already, but indirectly. Now I’d like to face it head-on. It’s a question that people ask in different ways—sometimes it comes out polite and sometimes it comes out rough, but it always amounts to the same: Do you do it for the money, honey?

The answer is no. Don’t now and never did. Yes, I’ve made a great deal of dough from my fiction, but I never set a single word down on paper with the thought of being paid for it. I have done some work as favors for friends—logrolling is the slang term for it—but at the very worst, you’d have to call that a crude kind of barter. I have written because it fulfilled me. Maybe it paid off the mortgage on the house and got the kids through college, but those things were on the side—I did it for the buzz. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.

(quoted from pg. 253)

About the book:
“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly, and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

Work Cited:

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York, NY: Pocket Books, 2000. Print.

One Comment
  1. Tuesday, May 20, 2014 12:33 pm

    This is a subject that always bears repeating. It seems more organic process to write for fulfillment – and ask to be paid for it as a secondary intention. I find my writing flows better when I keep my mind off how much $ I want to make from it. Writing for fulfillment increases personal value which in the end increase financial worth. It’s the old caveat that if you write it and it entertains you or evokes emotion (tears, anger, laughter, etc) it will do the same for others who read it – thus finding its audience. The audience are willing to pay for the value of what they are reading (what it means to them) and getting you paid for your efforts.


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