Tuesday, October 2, 2012

IWSG: Block Out The Noise

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I have a few writer friends who have quit writing. Their reasons vary from health related to too many changes in the publishing industry to not enough money in writing.

I agree that the publishing industry has changed rapidly and every day there seems to be something new to learn. Sometimes I feel so far behind, I’ll never catch up. I’m battling a mental block when it comes to actually learning how to convert a manuscript to an eBook. Hopefully, I’ll figure it out. Instead of becoming discouraged or overwhelmed, I have to look at it as fun so it doesn’t seem too much of a challenge. At any rate, if you’re like me, dwelling on what you can’t do will paralyze you to the point you can’t accomplish anything. Dwelling on what I hear from other writers can paralyze me too.
I suppose you know that professional writers who get paid for their work don’t think very highly of writers who produce anything for FREE. They say things like, “If you write for free or substandard wages, you ruin it for the rest of us.” And they say, “If an editor can get a writer for free, why would they pay one?” 
Here’s a news flash:  We’ll never get paid what we think we’re worth.

Sure, being paid makes us feel valued. Receiving a check--large or small--makes us feel we’re actually doing something important, not being taken advantage of.  We’re smart enough to know that someone in the industry is making money--it’s just not us.
I’ve written for money and I’ve written for free. I’ve written for contributor’s copies, a byline and I’ve written for an online subscription. About the only place I draw the line is: no byline, no article. A girl’s gotta get something outta the deal!

I think the big questions for those of us who love writing and want to do it whether we get paid or not are:
Would we really keep writing if we never got paid? Do we love it that much? When we work on our novels, we’re writing for free but we hope and pray we’ll sell those books. If we knew we’d never sell them, would we keep writing them? Where can free writing take us? We’re always learning, of course, but can’t it lead (in the long run) to bigger, better opportunities? Of course, it can.

In the September 30th issue of Parade Magazine, there was an article on Sandra Day O’Connor by David Gergen. O’Connor graduated from Stanford Law School in 1952, and among the top students in her class. She couldn’t find a job. She applied for every job advertised on the placement bulletin board; not a single interview. Finally, O’Connor talked a county attorney’s office into letting her work for free until they could budget money to pay her. She says regardless of no pay, she loved her job. And we know what happened three decades later--she was appointed to the country’s highest court.
What would have happened if Sandra Day O'Connor had let pride, anger, bitterness keep her from doing what she loved and was trained to do?

  • I hope we all continue to do what we love and refuse to be discouraged by those who criticize us or unknowingly block our progress.
  • I hope you'll never be too proud to write for free, but always remember how much you love writing.
  • I hope you always remember that if you have a goal, a dream, a desire - there’s a way to accomplish it.
  • And that you'll always walk through the doors and windows that open. -Believe me, they open when you least expect it.

Take this opportunity to read the piece on SandraDay O’Connor in it’s entirety.



Ghadeer said...

This is lovely...I'm not a professional writer at the moment so I can't relate much but maybe one day!

Cherie Reich said...

For ebook formatting, read the Smashwords Style Guide (found on www.smashwords.com). Seriously helped me more than anything else on formatting my manuscripts for ebook publication.

And it's sometimes disappointing to write for free, so to speak, but I think of every free download as a potential fan. And you can't beat that. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Any professional occassionally gives their hard won skills/talents away for free. A lawyer sometimes dispenses free advice. A doctor sometimes consults with someone for free, most often family members or friends. These days, I do things for free for friends and colleagues at times. It's all well and good to say that everyone should charge for their writing, but there are plenty of start up zines and mags that simply couldn't get started in such a climate.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hey, I never expected to get paid - it was just a bonus. If anyone is looking at this as a paying career, they might want to look elsewhere. Writing should be for joy first.
Thanks for participating in the IWSG!

Li said...

I've been paid for a few pieces, but mostly I write for the sheer joy of it, as well as to entertain others. I've had one or two people question why I publish stories on my blog instead of submitting them. Again, the answer is really that I enjoy sharing them and getting feedback. And if I had no followers? Well, I'd probably do it anyway. Less space to store them online than in all of those binders I used to keep. :-)

Jan Rider Newman said...

Inspiring, Jess. Thanks for reminding us what it's about.

Donna B. McNicol said...

Getting paid is the icing on the cake, I'd write for enjoyment regardless.

The ebook formatting is actually pretty easy if you don't have photos. I used photos if my first several compilations of flash fiction and it took me a while to figure it all out.

Lynn said...

You are SO inspiring! Thank you.

Bethie said...

Not writing because you don't get paid to me is like a nurse or doctor who refuses to help someone because they won't get paid. Certainly you need to be able to support yourself but I agree--the well spoken word is so much more than any price placed on it.