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What’s Your Writing Worth?

by Jordyn Redwood

It’s tax season. Are you currently evaluating what your writing is worth? My husband, who is an accountant, came up to me and asked, “Do you know how much you’ve spent on writing this last year?”

It was more than I thought. Even though I’m in a three-book contract, my earnings are still below my expenses. Considering my first book hasn’t been released yet, this shouldn’t be at all surprising. Plus, you have to invest in a new business (if you’re seeking publication-you should consider yourself a small business person-right?)

Then a few strange thoughts began to cross my mind. The first and foremost, will I ever reverse the above? Will I ever make a profit writing?

Then I wondered if my frame of mind should be different if I view my writing as being obedient to the Lord’s will for my life.

When I graduated high school-let’s just say Madonna was popular-I had two dreams. One was to be a flight nurse. The other was to be a published author. Writing was always a love of mine and I’d tortured several teachers begging them to read my stories from Jr. High on up. But when reality hit-having to get a job that would provide income-writing seemed a tougher road to navigate then becoming a flight nurse. This goal driven person was attracted to the more clearly defined path.

I chose nursing and essentially stopped writing.

Fast forward. My flight nursing dream never came true. Have I impacted lives? Yes, absolutely. But, I never reached the pinnacle I desired despite having the qualifications and applying multiple times.

During this period, I’d had this story brewing in my mind. I’d written parts of this novel off and on to merely get it on paper so the characters would stay quiet in my head.

Why wasn’t I writing with the same passion I’d pursued flight nursing? Easy. I didn’t want to fail at both my dreams. That would be heartbreaking beyond words.

Over those years, I know the Lord was working on my heart. I changed from writing secular fiction to inspirational. I attended conferences and studied the writing craft. Finally, in frustration with my nursing career, I literally threw my hands up to God and said, “Fine, I’ll finish the book but You better find a home for it if You want me to keep writing. One book-that’s it. Prove to me that You will show up.”

I know. You should never challenge God. This isn’t a theological discussion. Well, maybe it is.

So, I finished that book. That same year, I got an amazing agent in Greg Johnson. About eighteen months later, I got a book contract-that turned into a three-book deal.

I took those happenings as clear direction from the Lord I was finally on the path of His will for my life.

So, when my heart sank over my current bottom line, I heard a voice say-even if you don’t make one penny in the positive-if your words help bring someone to Me-was your money well spent?

Question for you-as a Christian writer, do we treat our writing solely as a business, or should we be obedient to God regardless of the cost?


Jordyn Redwood is a pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense novelist by night. Her love of all things medical led to the creation of Redwood’s Medical Edge-a blog devoted to helping contemporary and historical authors write medically accurate fiction. Her debut novel, Proof, will release June 1, 2012.

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15 Responses to What’s Your Writing Worth?

  1. Love this, Jordyn. It’s an encouragement to me, especially, since I have yet to make a dime on my writing. I don’t even get paid for my weekly newspaper column. People gasp when I confess that, however, I keep on writing without pay 1) because it keeps me writing; 2) because I landed the column in a way that I know totally is because of God and 3) because of obedience. Some days I don’t want to write. I don’t feel like it. But then God presses an image of one of my protagonists in my mind, or reminds me of the importance of the theme I’m writing about, and I get busy writing–and trying to improve my writing–for Him again. Writing for pay is an increasingly controversial subject these days, especially in lieu of e-everything. But as I wrap up my comments here, I wonder, did the authors of the Bible worry about getting paid? Or did writers like Paul scratch out his message fervently and because he believed in the importance of conveying Jesus’ message of grace to the world?

  2. So we’re not supposed to tear up reading an ACFW blog, right? ‘sposed to save those little gems for the novels. Well, sorry to break the rules. This post touched a deep and tender place in my heart, for it was as if you had been peeking into my soul, Jordyn. Your words just helped solidify my determination to follow the course I’m on. Yes, it’s costly, yes, it’s time-consuming, but a desire has been planted in my heart and I have to see it bud and grow. For you and I both know who put it there.

  3. Hi Jordyn- LOVE this. I also realized a few weeks ago as I did my taxes that I spent more writing (personally… I did earn income at my web writing job, but I’m not counting that) than I earned last year…sad, but true. But, I am still insired to write because I love it. There’s a lot more to writing than money, as you know. Have a great day!

  4. Karen Jordan says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Jordyn: “… be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things” (Matt. 6:33 GNT).

  5. Amy: I loved your thoughts. And, the Madonna reference– was thinking of you girlfriend.

    Davalynn: Knowing I touched you that strongly will carry me through today. I’m glad I could help God confirm what He’s telling you.

    Erin: Stay the course. Sometimes the rewards are not always monetary.

  6. Donna Pyle says:

    Jordyn, I loved your words here. What a blessing that your book turned into a 3-book deal. I had no idea – congrats! Your journey provides such important insights to me and my writing journey. Each step is a test of faith and character building. I view my writing as ministry, so as long as I know to the core that I’m following what God wants me to do, I trust that He’ll provide. That may sound simple, but as soon as I settled that in my mind, the peace flooded in. I can’t wait to read your first release! Hugs.

  7. jandunlap says:

    Jordyn, I can so relate to your post! Filing taxes has always been my reminder that what I do for God is beyond earthly measure. My rendering unto the government its due never fails to demonstrate how my writing is not about making money, especially since my income is so small. Yet I know the intangible joys of writing far outweight any balance sheet, and I’m blessed to render unto God what is His – my writing gift – by plugging away at a writing career.

  8. Jordyn,

    In answer to your question, when we are obedient to God we succeed, although that may or may not translate into money (or even publication).

    I’m thankful for what the Lord has given you.

  9. Jordyn, I work in healthcare, too (occupational therapy) and I’m faced with the same dilemma. All I can figure is God’s math works differently than the world’s. I’m trusting in Him that life is about more than the bottom line. Blessings on your ministry!

  10. Thank you all for your wonderful comments. It was a joy to read them. You have blessed my day.

  11. So good to see you here, Jordan. I lol when I read your hubby’s comment. It was the exact, I’m talking word for word, question my husband asked me just the other day. He tallied up the expenses and sent them off to our tax guy.

    He asks the same question every year. And there’s nothing I can do about it. I know it’s a loss materialistic but in my heart it’s far from it.

    Congrats on your debut!! No doubt it will be amazing. I loved reading about your road to success.

    This was a great reminder. Thank you! Loved it!

  12. Jordyn,

    Thank you for the most excellent thoughts.

    First of all, I don’t look at your challenge to God as a challenge to God. It’s more a human expression of that moment when you gave up doing things your way and gave in to God’s way. In Malachi 3:10, God tells the children of Israel to test Him (the only place He does so). He’s challenging them to give Him everything that’s due Him and see what happens.

    That’s what you did. You gave your writing to God (something He had probably been asking from you for quite some time) and He blessed the results.

    That’s not an open sesame to the storehouses of God. It’s a moment of yielding.

    As to the larger question you asked….

    I am unable to separate writing as a business and writing as obedience to God. When Christ calls for every bit of my time, my effort, my life – when He doesn’t want to be part of my life, He wants to be my life – there is no way to compartmentalize. At least not if I’m following wholeheartedly.

    I do treat writing as a business just as I treat painting as a business. I just haven’t started making a profit on writing. Yet.

    And that is in God’s hands in the long run. God’s economy and world’s economy are two vastely different things – Praise the LORD! As His children, we need to trust the Father to provide in whatever means is best for us.

  13. Mary Allen says:

    Thanks for the words of encouragement as I’ve been getting my tax papers together. This has been a very long journey with several wrong turns and even more valleys and detours, but just as a race car is tested and retested and reworked, I know I’m getting closer. Every time I think about quitting God sends a confirmation my way to move me along. I look at the long list of replies to your blog and think, these are my fellow travelers on God’s path. Blessings.

  14. Mart: Thanks for you comments. You are always so sweet to me.

    Carrie: I like your insight. God did a lot of saying “no” to get me on the writing path or the right path– may be one in the same for me. Those years were painful but now I wonder what the next step should be. Do I fully quit my “day” job or use it to support God’s will. Not clear on the answer yet.

    Mary: To my fellow traveler– one step in front of the other. Loved your words.

  15. This is so good. Thank you for sharing your story!