Sunday, November 27, 2005

Free? Write for Free?

Should a writer write for free? (It goes without saying, almost without saying, that if you are the writer and someone is publishing your work, you DO NOT pay them!)

People write for a living. Those people charge for their work, and rightly so. It's a valuable service, provided by workers who have put a lot of effort into learning their craft. They don't want others to write for free, because there is a risk that the work of all will seem less valuable.

Here comes the catch-22. It's hard to land a paying writing job without clips. How do you get around that? There are some good ideas out there. Be creative. That's what writers do, right?

Some writers decide to offer free articles to promote their websites and other work. It's a choice that can drive traffic to your website and promote your name. This is a personal decision, and can work well as part of a marketing campaign.

A troublesome question for fiction writers is the 'free rewrite'. The agent/editor likes the story, but thinks it would look better with some major revisions. Remember, if you don't have a signed contract, you'll be doing this work 'on spec'. Think about it. It could be a test of your flexibility and willingness to take editorial direction. It could also be a test of your spine.

The thing about writing, most of us know the basics before we decide we'd like someone to publish our words. But think about it--most of us know the basics of breathing before we begin SCUBA diving. Would you hire yourself out as a professional diver because you bought the equipment and know how to breathe? I bet you'd learn how to do it first.

You can take courses in writing, or you can try the 'seatpants apprenticeship'. Find other writers, write, let them read your words, do your best to improve them, and move on to another project. Skill and talent are involved here. But, the biggest factors for any individual writer are time, effort and consistency. As you improve, your pay will also improve.


***the goal setting workshop will be posted beginning early in the New Year***

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