I Stopped Writing Because I Want to Make Money

Jamila Medley
6 min readJul 25, 2022
Photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash

10 months ago I declared to the world (okay, my 800 Facebook friends), that I want to be a writer. I was intent on being intentional about writing too. With my still new-found freedom of not working full-time, I even dedicated Mondays as my writing day. There was nothing preventing me from writing what I wanted and for the most part, when I wanted.

I started writing on Medium, trying to publish something once a week, maybe bi-weekly. For a while, I was going back and forth about what to write about. Leadership and slowing down seemed to be the two topics that emerged the most frequently. Then, before the end of 2021, I began to embark on a writing project about a topic very close to my heart. I decided that I wanted to write a book.

My attention moved away from Medium to research, writing a book outline, and actually beginning to write book chapters. I’m not ready to share what it’s about, by the way. That’ll be a post all of its own, I’m sure.

Then something changed. While my commitment to writing was dulling, the amount of time I spent involved in paid work began to increase. When I left my full-time job as a nonprofit executive director in May 2021, I started doing some independent consulting work. When I say some, I mean that I was striving to work for pay 10 hours a week.

Doing that much work would allow me to earn just about my previous full-time salary. I’ve written about the paltry pay of many grassroots nonprofit organizations, all the labor it requires, what is sacrificed to do it, and why we do it anyway. Yet, it was profound to me that I could work so few hours for my livelihood now. I didn’t focus on it too much. I imagined at some point I might try to double those hours, but first, I would take months of rest, writing, and doing whatever else I wanted. This was to be a period of recovery from the more than 20 years I’d spent working in nonprofits and co-ops.

Honestly, I’ve never given much consideration to trying to earn a high salary. When I was a young single mother, my goal was to have enough money to afford an apartment, take out dinner on Friday, and the balance of childcare after some subsidy kicked in to cover the bulk of the tuition. I didn’t yearn for vacations anywhere. I didn’t care about buying expensive clothes or…

Jamila Medley

I write to reflect on & learn how to live more authentically, slowly, & intentionally in a culture that dares you to go against the grain.