When Should You Quit Writing?

Something’s been weighing heavily on my mind:

Maybe writing isn’t worth my time.

For weeks, I’ve been questioning if writing was worth doing.

I can spend 2 – 4 hours a day, dragging my thoughts onto the blank canvas. During my week off, that’s exactly what I did. I spent hours thinking and writing. And what was the result? A few fantastic articles on my site that barely get read.

At the time of writing this article, I finished a 1-hour consulting session over Skype. The result? An extra $200 in my pockets.

That’s right. $200 for one hour of my time.

Here’s the deal. For my hour, I can either get 500 words onto the page or $200. What should I choose?

It’s a no-brainer decision.

Some Math on Why $200 > 500 Words

For $200, I could get someone to ghostwrite a 20,000-word book. I can write the outline or plot the story and get a completed rough draft.

The same 20,000-word book would take me 40 hours to write. At $200 an hour, that’s an opportunity cost of $8,000. The $8,000 with a yearly return of 8% yields $640 per year.

To get $640, I don’t have to do extra work like making a cover, editing, publishing, marketing, and whatever else that goes into publishing and launching a book.

And at $2.99 a book, how much could I really make during my first year? I can earn a profit of $2.10 from a $2.99 book. To duplicate the outcome of the $8,000 investment and to make $640 a year, I have to sell 305 books year after year after year.

According to this website, the average book sells 100 – 650 copies in its lifetime.

Considering that I am not a famous author and the average lifetime sales of books are so low, it is highly, highly unlikely my book will sell at least 305 copies a year.

That’s assuming what I write is for commercial purposes. Writing articles to post online results in no sales … ever.

Now you see why authors generally are poor.

Survey showed that:

The bottom 50% of authors were those who earned less than £10,500 in 2013, and accounted for just 7% of the amount earned by all writers put together. And 17% of all writers did not earn anything at all during 2013, said the ALCS, adding that 98% of those authors had published a work every year from 2010 to 2013.

If I was a teenager, I would write all day. Developing writing skills with possibility for income sure beats a minimum wage job.

But at my stage in life, it makes more sense to hire writers than to become one myself.

The Only Reason to Write

For high earners, the only reason to write is if you enjoy writing. Isaac Asimov wrote over 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Why? Because he enjoyed it. He had to write.

If I was like Asimov, I would write. But frankly, I don’t enjoy the writing process. I enjoy having written, but I don’t enjoy writing.

Instead, I enjoy learning, which is why I read for at least 2 hours a day. Many days, I read for much longer. I have to read like Asimov has to write.

I kept going back to writing due to nostalgia — of sacrificing sleep to write and to build a business up from nothing.

Every month, my business spits out money into my checking account without me lifting a finger. It’s nice having passive income, but it’s nicer to say I built a self-running business through my writings. (Obviously, the income does not come from this site.)

But I write with a motive: to build a business. I did not write for writing’s sake.

I quit residency not so I could write all day. I could not sustain an Asimov lifestyle. I left to build businesses. (Instead, I learned how to write fiction — thinking that may be the future direction of my business.)

But writing isn’t the only way to create value. And these days, it’s not the best way for me to create value.

I Will Not Totally Abandon Writing

With that said, I still have an important work to write. I will not write for the money (which you can see is meager), but because it has to be written.

It will be a collection of 100 letters to my “son” about becoming a successful man — a wise, God-fearing man who is able to build wealth and to marry a good woman (if he wants to marry).

I don’t expect fame for writing the collection of letters. I don’t expect many sales. I don’t expect people to read it.

But I must write it.

Anyways, in the future, I will cut down on my writing. I will still publish here and there, but not as consistently.

I will focus on creating another business system — one not based on content. And then I will scale and automate it.

It’s already in the works. =)

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