Why would you write for free?

I was asked a question recently that made me stop and think for a while. “Why would you write for free?” The person who asked this had just discovered that only one of the sites I contribute to pays me for my work, and she was confused as to why I would go to the effort of writing without the monetary return.

I got a little bit defensive when she asked me. “What do you mean? Why wouldn’t I want to write for free?” I didn’t understand why she was lost.

Since thinking about it, I’ve been struck with the negative cultural reality that prompted that question. In our society, everything is about the money. You’re a great athlete? Good. Get even better, go to the Olympics, and you’re set. Are you a good musician? Get even better, and someday, you could be touring and making tons of money.

We are so focused on the return instead of the experience itself.

Every hobby, every activity we love to do has been distorted by our trying to discover how we can make money off of it. We become disciplined in order to become better, better in order to have more opportunities, and we grasp at the opportunities searching for how they will reward us. Where have we lost the satisfaction in the hobby and effort itself, the pleasure that comes from putting in hard work?

Although it’s wonderful to get paid for things I write, that’s not my prime goal. I do it because I love it. I strive to get better, to gain more opportunities, and discipline myself because it is something I want to do more and more. If I’m paid for it, wonderful! If not, I can be content in knowing that I’m putting out work I’m proud of, and that I am seeing improvement in what I am doing.

Let us gain satisfaction from hard work and effort itself, not what it can bring us, and we will be people who are content with whatever may come. Do things because you love them-not because they bring you money.

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