The Good & Bad of Writing for Free

I recently read an article about the advantages and disadvantages of writing for free in an expensive and money-hungry world.  The article  started off with a man who was asked to write an article for a publication, sans payment, and this man happened to be a paid writer.  He wrote back saying he would not do such a thing, when his writing was his source of income.  The article goes on to talk about how the average paid writer was able to become said paid writer, because he started out with a bank roll in his pocket.  It’s disheartening to think that the writer’s that make it big are mostly there because they had someone (i.e. mom and dad) paying their bills when they first took that internship in NYC or other expensive city.  The writers who are trying to get into the business without anyone paying their bills will forever have a harder time getting anywhere, because they have to work 40 hours a week to eat, have a hot shower and a roof to sleep under.  When that writer comes home at the end of the day, sleep is the only thing that sounds appealing, not writing a 1,500 word essay to a magazine that won’t pay them for their efforts.  However, newbies in any business know that any acknowledgement of their work is usually worth the effort.  That one free show you perform or short article you write could get you recognized by someone who could get you that dream job.

I’m not exactly in the bank roller class, but I’m not without help if I need it.  It’s a tough position to take a stand on because I don’t want to stereotype all rich kids into being bad writers who only making it because Daddy’s money bought them an internship.  I think writing is a talent anyone can have, rich or poor, but I do agree that it is much harder to move up in the business without knowing somebody who knows somebody.

Then again…there are those random success stories like J.K.Rowling‘s, who was supposedly eating paper for dinner before Harry Potter changed her life.  Hopefully when someone Google’s my name in twenty years, I’ll have a similar story.  Although, if I can keep eating real food over paper, that would be really great.  Fingers crossed.


Check out the article here:


A Terrifying Task

William Faulkner's Underwood Universal Portabl...

William Faulkner’s Underwood Universal Portable sits in his office at Rowan Oak, which is now maintained by the University of Mississippi in Oxford as a museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I have finally buckled down and started writing consistently every day.  I don’t count random short stories, because those jump out of my head constanly.  I have five or six unfinished short stories that I have started in the past two months, but the book…that I have ignored.  Not because I don’t have the ideas in my head, or scenes played out that I want to put to paper, but because I thought writing an actual book would be terrifying.  Well, it’s not really.  When you just look at it as a giant short story, something that you don’t have to share with the world if you don’t want to, it’s not so bad.  I finished three more chapters in the last week and I am pretty pleased with that.  Things were going nicely until I received an email from Writer’s Digest (I subscribe to them regularly).  The email was focused on the Query Letter, which thus far I hadn’t thought much about.  So I started reading and now I have a new armpit-sweating, heart fluttering fear.  The Query Letter.

In just three or four little paragraphs, a writer must convince its reader, generally an agent, publishing house, etc.,  that her manuscript is the next big thing.  For me, this is much more difficult than writing the actual novel.  When it comes to talking about other people, I could come up with something clever and witty in a New York Minute, but when I have to talk about myself, or my writing, I clam up.  It’s easily the most annoying quality I have (my close friends are not allowed to comment on that).  However, the internet is a valuable asset in this respect, so I Googled this life-changing letter and how to write one; and there are so many examples all over the web.  There are even agents who publish examples and critique them so you can find out just what you need to say to impress the right people.

Of course, my manuscript is only in the beginning stages of life, so technically, I can wait a little while longer before I let the stress of this Query Letter destroy my life.  As a now unpublished, fresh off the farm kind of writer, everything still seems big and terrifying; even blogging.  I am still terrible at it, mostly because I am inconsistent.  But they say the first step on the path to change is admitting your fault, so I guess that means I’m growing. YAY.

Soon enough though, I’ll be putting my big girl pants on and sending out a thousand Query Letters; and hoping, that at least one of them will come back to me with good news.