Monday, November 23, 2015

Why Writing is Real Work

I don't really get personal here on my blog.  I offer a few snippets into my life here and there, and I certainly don't like to get controversial, and definitely don't like to get grumpy, but there is one thing that irks me.  Why is it that some people seem to think that writing is not a 'real' job?  What is that?

Now I'm not talking about blogging and how I think that bloggers deserve to be paid or HAVE to be paid.  Certainly not.  I, for one, am perfectly happy not to be paid for my blogging because I enjoy writing and as I mentioned once before in a post entitled How to Not Blog For Profit, for me, my space is somewhere that I can get my 'fix' of writing and enjoy what is sort of like computerised 'scrapbooking'.  On the other hand I'm not opposed to financial reward, don't get me wrong.  If people choose to blog for money and are successful at it then this is wonderful.  It's great to be paid doing what you love.  Since posting my article about 'How to Not Blog For Profit' I have gone on to write my first sponsored post (see it here), and enjoyed the process very much.  I worked with a great brand, enjoyed the collaboration very much as it combined my two loves (writing and sewing) and yes, it was lovely to be financially rewarded for my efforts.  I have four kids, Christmas is coming up, I have crazy bills, we all need to eat!!  BUT, for me, blogging for payment is not the end all of everything.  Yes it is great, and I really appreciated the opportunity and would love to work with the company again, but I don't let the need for chasing the almighty dollar clash with my enjoyment of blogging.

What I am really talking about here is writing in general.  Freelance writing and those who have that thing in them.  That THING that makes them a writer.  That little voice in your head that you just can't ignore and no matter what you do somewhere inside you a book is dwelling, just desperate to get out.  I remember seeing a newspaper cartoon once, you know the sort, one with just four simple drawings used to tell the story.  The poor chap is lying on the couch moaning to a psychiatrist about how he just can't help it but he just knows there is a book inside of him and he wants to know how to 'get it out'.  The psychiatrist goes on to inform him that regrettably he is doomed to be a writer.  Funny.  But not.

I am actually (technically) a writer, having studied professional writing, as well as photography, at university and also later completing an Advanced Diploma in Freelance Journalism.  On paper it says I can write, but the need to write goes back way further than that.  I kept a silly personal diary from the age of 11 and wrote in it religiously until about the age of 35, which naturally changed over the years from "I had tuna casserole for dinner" to "I think 'XYZ' is the hottest boy in school" to the tragic "the love of my life has left me, I can't live without him"...blah..blah..blah...blah.  (Just to clarify the love of my life did come back and we are now happily married with a whole swag of kids!)

I also have, until fairly recently, been writing and taking photographs for a magazine that is published quarterly, but I also have had articles published in other regional magazines and also a national magazine, my absolute favourite publication called "Country Style." 

Anyway, here is my gripe.  Why is it that when you go looking for freelance writing work, particularly in online sites, that you find a writing job listed with the payment for it being "No Pay".  WTF???!!!  No pay??  Do writers really like to work for 'No Pay'?  Do we survive on air alone?  Are our bodies so highly advanced and so finely in tune with the universe that we don't require food to eat and money to pay for it?

I spent approximately 6 years at university, roughly the same time as someone who studies to be a doctor.  A DOCTOR for goodness sake.  Actually to study for a Bachelor of Medicine in Australia it's a 5 year course, so I'm one up on them.  So having said that shouldn't I be earning a decent wage too?  This is why I am constantly finding it weird that there are people who don't think writers deserve to be paid. 

Another example.  The magazine I was recently writing for.  This fellow was paying me half of what I should have been getting, comparing it to the going rate (actually it was the going rate that I received for previous jobs years ago so in reality it should have been more than this), but his excuse was it was all he could afford.  And I was supposed to accept this?  Initially he did promise that later I would start to receive more, and even at the start of this year I was told that as the magazine was going so well (apparently) that I would be getting a pay rise...which of course I never saw.  And then of course when I did ask for a little more financial reward for writing an article that was twice as long as usual (which I was asked to write one twice the normal length....I didn't just do this on my own) resulted in a very rude email telling me that they were trying to "keep their costs down" and that they "give me plenty of work".  Now WTF is this???  A writer is not a cost.  A writer should not be looked at as a liability.  A writer supplies your content so should be seen as the greatest asset you have.  Without the stories all you have is a book of ads and no one wants to buy a magazine that is simply a book of ads.  I am not telling you all of this to have a whinge and bad mouth this particular...shall we say...'***hole'...but this is the type of thing that writers have to deal with.  It seems that even authors don't have it much better, with book deals really not earning the creator that much, considering it most likely took them years to write.  Even if they are paid $10,000 for their book (which I have a feeling it's not even that much), spread that over two years and that's not a whole lot of moolah. 

Why why why??  I keep asking myself this and finding only despair within the answer. 

On the flip side however, it seems that there are some that do see writing as an actual job and are happy to pay properly for a piece of writing, whether it be web content, a magazine article, an advertorial or even a blog post.  There are people that see the value in what you do and it leaves writers with the faint hope that one day we might come in contact with these spectacular beings. I mean there are even writers out there that make a fabulous living and their words have moved mountains, brought about change and inspired generations. 

But in the meantime, for a lot of us, we plug away at our computers, or fill our journals with endless scribbles, unable to stop because it is what makes us tick and life worth living.  So my message, to all you other writers out there...keep on plugging away...because perhaps, just perhaps, that pot of gold is at the end of a rainbow somewhere.  And my message to those who want to hire a writer.  Writing, truly good writing, is a talent that not everybody can do.  Sure, everyone can write a sentence, but not everybody can make a difference with what they say.  Remember that and write out a cheque that reflects the professional service you have just received.  Thanks!


  1. I love when you write these personal-style posts. I am very passionate about this subject (well, it seems I'm just a passionate person.. I care a lot about A LOT of things LOL) of writing (AND ART!!!) not being accepted as "real work". I understand what you mean about the cartoon being funny, but not.
    LOL at the Lindsay diary entry ;) I also had a diary but didn't write in it like you. I wrote stories!

    Writing is NOT something that everyone can do. Sure, almost every person with a basic education can write, but CAN THEY REALLY? A writer IS a liability, especially if you are running a magazine. Magazines are ALL WRITING. No videos, no scratch and sniff..
    It is especially disheartening that there are not many of these spectacular individuals that believe in the power of a well-written piece. Art and writing. Writing is an art. We put so little stock into art, but it is LITERALLY EVERYWHERE. It's early in the morning, and I find that that results in more capitalized words in my comments. I apologize! LOL. <- there I've done it again....
    Loved your post. Very good points!!

    MUCH LOVE!!!!

    1. Thank you! This post is a result, I think, of years of frustration of sometimes feeling a little undervalued. Scratch and sniff. HAHAHAHA! (in capitals!)

  2. Girl, I HEAR the voices! I actually first began hearing them at the age of 12? I used to scribble in purple fuzzy note books and give them to my favorite teacher to read. She always said my stories were "so great." Maybe she never read them? But she was very nice. I too used to keep a diary, I actually stopped a lot sooner though. Mostly because all my time I could write was spent writing fictional stories that no one has yet to read. /: My lack of confidence holds me back... where is that dang teacher? (;

    I do recall one comment about a certain Australian love story where two lovers almost lose each other? (; Oh, and I think they have a whole "swag of kids" now. (; I really hope one day I get to read all about it.

    I'm sorry this is such a frustrating thing for you. Writing was never an otption for me. I grew up being told it was a job, but in my heart I obviously knew better. I've never stopped. Sure my time to write comes more seldom than ever, but when I can I do. There's lots of characters in my head, I need to let them out. (;

    1. I need to see these stories of yours!! That's another thing about being a writer, you open yourself up to a world of criticism. You just have to ignore the outside voices and listen to your own. I would very much like to meet all these characters in your head! ;)