Writing For Yourself vs Writing For A Living (or combination of both?)

I recently finished reading the book “The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World” by Lewis Hyde which was (would you believe it) a gift from my husband,  I don’t want to go into too much detail but the title is a little misleading.  I think my husband assumed, as did I, that the book would be about creation – literature, art, music etc.  However, it is mainly about the exchange of property/gifts, taking into account different cultures and religions.  In my honest opinion, I didn’t especially enjoy the book.  I found it difficult to read and it didn’t captivate me.  I would not dissuade others from reading the book as their opinion may differ from mine.  It is packed full of information and much as I didn’t enjoy the overall content, it did contain some interesting tidbits about other cultures.  However, the purpose of this post is not to review the book.

A quote within the book caught my eye:

You really have to make a resolution just to write for yourself…..in the sense of not writing just to impress yourself, but just writing what yourself is saying – Allan Ginsberg

I realised how true this is.  My ambition is to make a living from writing but as a relatively new writer, this quote has made me see that I should be writing for myself first and foremost.  Writing for fun is a good start and can teach you something about yourself.  However, I do think there is no harm in “impressing yourself” with your own writing.  If you don’t enjoy writing/reading it, nobody else will.  In order to reach my goal, I will have to release my writing out into the wild eventually.  I agree that a writer shouldn’t write to suit others or with only a sale in mind but I see nothing wrong in earning money from writing.  I don’t think it detracts from the art, so long as the artist is enjoying the creation.

I don’t want to write something that nobody will ever see.  I want to enjoy writing for myself but also to be able to pay my bills with it but I hope in doing so I maintain my integrity and don’t become a sell out, chasing money rather than writing the kind of book I would enjoy reading. In my mind, it is possible to reach a middle ground.  I hope reality will reflect my theory.