I am rather thoroughly on record as thinking that now is a great time to be a writer. The great thing about writing in 2015 as opposed to 1975 is that today we can take an artisanal approach to our work. We can write what we like. We can write what matters to us. We can connect to readers around the world without anything more than a data connection, some kind of computer, and a free account with a blogging company. We don't need an agent or a publisher or anyone else--after centuries of influence aggregating to those who controlled printing presses and distribution channels, technology is now disaggregating that influence to me and you and us. Someone more well read than me made this point again today: mass media and mass production are going away. I freely confess that Seth Godin factors pretty heavily into my own thinking about the future of art, so there's no surprise that he's once again written something I agree with on this topic.
Seth is objectively correct. Both mass production and mass media are ending--if not entirely, at least in their stranglehold over our lives. Broadcast television may still have plenty of viewers, but more and more of us aren't watching "television" at all. Turns out there are better things to watch than what mass media provides for us. Mass media may be profitable still--but it's not the only option.
Don't believe Seth because he's more famous than me or has sold many more books than me. Don't believe Seth because he has credentials or experience. Heck, don't believe me because I decided to take this writing thing seriously enough to spring for some space on a server somewhere instead of a free account, or because I am sufficiently devoted to post frequently. Believe that we are moving to an artisanal world because we are.
Reality is a stubborn thing. Humans don't expect the world to change, and we are really good at ignoring the change that happens right before our eyes and below our fingertips. When a part of our human reality changes fundamentally, no amount of ignoring the change will stop it. The reality of factory production of stuff and art and entertainment has been stubbornly changing for years now, it's just that not everyone has noticed yet.
Now is a great time to be a writer (or really anyone who creates) if you can craft something that connects with people. Now we all have a chance to create a lot of small successes that we can gather-up into a livelihood with a bit of luck and perseverance. There aren't any guarantees of success, but we all do have an opportunity and space to try. That's more than used to be the case when you had to produce for the masses or not at all. That's a pretty good deal.