Are You A Hack Writer Or Clever Writer?




This one goes out to everyone who thinks they’re a hack writer – at least some of the time.

We create words that are meaningful, at least to us, and then we have to sell it to the world just to earn enough money to feed our aching stomach. To make matters worst, in this day and age you REALLY have to sell your writing. You have to hustle and stand out. 

Hardly a way to treat your art, is it?

I recently read two great books. One was The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield, and the other was 365 Things I Learned The Hard Way by Sean Platt.

Both are very helpful to those looking to build a platform of some kind. Both are handy for writers trying to make their art worthwhile. Both, though, contradict one another. At least they do in one particular part.


What Two Experts Say

When the hack sits down to work, he doesn’t ask himself what’s in his own heart. He asks what the market is looking for. – Robert McKee via Steven Pressfield


“Write from your heart; write from your heart; only write what you know and write from your heart.” I hate that because it’s useless. I’ve written over 300 books – not one of them was from my heart. Not one. – R.L. Stine via Sean Platt


Hmmmmm, these two thoughts sort of fight it to the death, don’t they. Simply put, Steven Pressfield is in the camp that a writer should write what mattersto THEM.

Sean Platt, on the other hand, talks about writing for a market. To take your art and turn it into something that is needed. Oh the dilemmas of a young writer.

This is the process I went through:

  • I’m a marketer, so try and create things people want/need
  • I read Steven’s book and was inspired. My writing deserved better than that
  • Three days later I read Sean’s book and my head began to hurt
  • Am I a hack writer, I began asking myself in the mirror. Head still hurting.

Which way of thinking is the right way of thinking? Seriously, I’m asking you!

I have no idea. What are your thoughts on what makes a hack writer?


The Fine Line Of A Hack Writer

I’m personally in a confused place. I’m still finding my feet and place in the world. Saying that, these are my thoughts on the above dilemma.

As with most things, it requires a balance.

When we create a product or service, we should very much adapt things to our readers. We should understand them the best we can and create something they will love.

When it comes to our writing, mainly fiction, we should write from the heart. After all, this is our art. We shouldn’t spend the entire process thinking about other people. We need to do the very best WE CAN DO.

I feel the key is in the mindset. Don’t worry about being a hack writer just because you’re trying to sell your art. Don’t feel guilty about making money. This is the real world we live in. We should stop feel guilty about everything.

Whatever it is you’re working on, try to understand your reader. Learn about who they are, engage with them, and make them part of the process. Whether it’s a course, a novel, a biographyI don’t care what it is, involve them the best you can.

BUT don’t simply do it for them. Do it for you, and when you can, adjust things in a manner that will make your reader smile.


What’s Your Balance?

Hardly a comprehensive answer I know, but it’s the only one I can come up with. I truly hope you will share your own thoughts below on what makes a hack writer.

In the end of the day, both Steven and Sean are people I respect and am happy to listen to. They’re both successful, and both look at things in their own unique way. I need to find my own unique way. YOU do too.

We need to find a balance that works for us, and I think the best way to do this is to learn about those who read/buy your work. It’s not about conforming and altering your passion so just it fits an existing market, but we should also respect our readers enough to write for THEM.

Sowhat’s your balance?

Are you Team Steven?

Or are you Team Sean?

Orare you Team YOU?

Turndog Millionaire – @turndog_million

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