Writers Worth Day

What Are You Worth?

Today is the Second Annual Writers’ Worth Day, thanks to Lori Widmer of Pennsylvania. Hopefully, this grass roots movement will grow over the years. Until writers take control of their own worth, their own finances, and their own lives, they will continue to earn slave wages.

What we do consists of a specific set of skills, skills that we have learned and honed over time, in much the same way as a doctor or a lawyer. We take skill a step further, though,and meld it with creativity and imagination. It’s difficult to put a price on it, but it’s worth a living wage.

Yes, anyone can put words on paper. But not everyone can arrange those words to seduce, entice, teach, engage and make someone see the world differently. It’s not all about selling something. It’s about sharing a different view of the world, helping people see and feel.

What is that worth?

Hard to say. But it’s worth a living wage.

Ask yourself why you write. Hopefully, you love it. Hopefully, it’s your vocation and your passion, as well as your business. But never forget that it’s your business.

Because so many people hate their jobs and their lives and are too cowardly to change them, they promote the myth that you can’t love your job AND earn a decent wage. It gives them a feeling of power to keep others as miserable as they are. This IS a myth, and the best way you can bust it up is to earn a good living via writing. You won’t without skill, talent, imagination, and a heck of a lot of hard work. If you’re not willing to put all of that into your writing, keep the day job. But don’t hurt the rest of us who DO write to pay the bills by letting employers get away with paying substandard wages, and training them that this is acceptable. It is not. Every time you accept a crap wage for your work, you don’t just hurt yourself, you hurt others. You cause harm. Even worse, you make the CHOICE to cause harm.

What we do is unique. How we do it is unique to each of us. A hundred of us can write good copy for a website. And it will be a hundred different viewpoints. One of those will be that special, charismatic work that leaps off the page or screen and makes a positive difference in the world. That writer deserves to be paid WELL for the skill, the passion, and the creativity. YOU deserve to be paid well for your skill, your passion,and your creativity.

You know when I’ll write for a “maybe someday” fee or a fraction of a penny-per-page-view wage? When my landlord, credit card companies, and utilities accept the same way of paying bills. I need to know what I’m paid for my work, and then, in cases of the fiction and the plays, the royalties are the gravy. I’ve been lucky that the gravy’s been able to fill in during fallow periods, but royalties can’t be depended on for a living until one hits a couple of best seller lists. Janet Evanovich and Nora Roberts can count on royalties to pay the bills. I’m not there. Yet. And when someone hires me to do a piece of writing that generates income for his business, I deserve a fixed, solid rate that reflects my skills, my time, and the continuing income I generate for that business. If my creditors except to be paid the rates they set and on time, then so do I.

Published in: on May 15, 2009 at 1:55 am  Comments (6)  
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snow storm approaching

I just love my new cover, so forgive me as I bask in it for awhile! It’s going to look really good on “stuff”. I might even do some tee shirts with the covers of HEX BREAKER and OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK for special giveaways. Once I actually get my release date, I can start planning things like a virtual tour, real-life speaking engagements, etc.

I spent some time working on the Fearless Ink website yesterday. I’ve revamped the Workshop Page, and added three workshops: Write Anything Authentically; Story Building; and Journal, Blog, Diary: A Journey of Internal and External Communication. Check out my workshop page for more information. A press release will go out on these new workshops this week.

I also updated the Critique page with some additional information.

The job boards were mostly discouraging. I found one job that I know I’m completely qualified, if not overqualified to do that would be ongoing, and really, really fun, but it all depends on the pay. My agency doesn’t have anything right now, and another place that wants me to write for them pays so poorly I think it would be detrimental to work there. Read Lori’s post from yesterday, and you’ll see why.

and if that doesn’t convince you, check out Anne’s post.

It’s sometimes hard to remember this with unpaid bills looming. But it’s important, because it winds up hurting you in the long run – it’s not like any of these low-paid content gigs can be used to get higher paying jobs – and you burn out.

I’m hoping the new brochures, new mailings, and new proposals will generate the kinds of jobs at the level it makes sense for me to work.

I had a good writing day, worked on some correspondence, research, reading, etc. Didn’t finish the assignment for Confidential Job #1, so I’ll have to get back to that today. Went to a friend’s and cooked dinner, then had a quiet evening. I’m really not up for the usual Oscar party this weekend – I might just hang out with a friend and watch quietly at home with some tapas and wine, and skip the whole getting-dressed-up-and-formal-party thing.

Fashion Week is on in New York right now, for the fall collections. I like the more fitted, tailored pieces. Some of the coats are a little bulky and shapeless for my taste. I do like the colors that are prevalent – the deep, jewel tones. Pamela somebody had a really nice collection yesterday, and Michael Kors has his show today – I like a lot of Kors’s work because the lines are clean and flattering.

The point of couture is for these designers to make “wearable art” – not practicality. But the reality of surviving in the business at this point is making something that people can actually wear in daily life that’s beautiful and practical and keep it at a price point so people can actually wear it.

I love going to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and looking at all the wearable art. The workmanship is fantastic on many of the pieces, with the detailed, hand embellishment. I think it’s important to have that joy and play and fun with clothing, Yet that’s what it is – an art form in cloth, not something that’s useful on a daily basis, and, in order to survive, most designers need to create collections that are useful to people and still retain the time, the energy, and the desire to create a few unique pieces that allow their imaginations to fly.

I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll mention it again. One of the things that disappointed me around the holiday season, walking around the boutiques in Manhattan was that the clothing displayed in the windows was so unimaginative and unflattering, as well as being overpriced. Let’s hope the spring season is full of fun. What I’ve seen of the fall collection is a mixed bag, which I think is a good thing, because then there’s something for a wide range of tastes. What I remember of the spring collection that showed last fall was a lot of huge pastel florals, which I can do without.

Let’s just say I am not someone who should wear large cabbage roses in pastel shades, shall we? I look ridiculous, as though I’m peeking through a vegetable patch.

But this has got to be a frustrating time in which to be a designer. Even if you cross over to design for theatre and film, you’re still constrained by the needs of the character and the production. I wonder if perhaps it’s less a loss of vision and imagination than the lack of opportunity to explore the imagination.

The monologues are percolating. I hope I can get some solid work on paper in the next few days. It’s much easier to write an entire play that holds together than a monologue where you need to communicate an entire world succinctly in under two spoken minutes.

Not a lot of work done on the Billy Root story this morning. I think I have to go back and add a scene somewhere in order to make what I’m doing now make sense. I’m not yet sure where or how to add it, but what just came up in Chapter Seven needs to be set up a little better earlier in order to make sense.

Sigh.

I’m starting to see how I need to restructure certain parts of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT so that it’s more logical, and I think I can do it without expanding the cast of characters too much. If I beef up the first two chapters, that should help a lot. And I can’t worry about word count until I’ve got the book the strongest it can be. Then I need to see if I need to tweak the count to fit the market, and then figure out how to do it. Step by step – it has to be polished before I can worry about submission.

I’ve got a bunch of business stuff to take care of; hope it doesn’t blow too big a hole into my writing day.

Devon

Billy Root story – 18,042 words out of est. 60,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
18 / 60
(30.0%)

Writer’s Worth Day

Lori Widmer declared today Writer’s Worth Day.

That means, if you call yourself a writer or want to call yourself a writer, it’s time for some tough love and reassessment.

The reality: If you take those jobs that pay crap for a large number of articles, the likelihood that you will make a living wage in this business is very small. There are always exceptions, but if you really are that brilliant, your samples (even if you’ve never published, you can create samples) are good enough to land you a decent wage. If you think you can use these mass-produced articles as clips to get higher-paid work, those potential employees will laugh you right out of the arena.

If you have no confidence yet, you’re better off starting out for small, local publications that are looking for local coverage and/or taking on a cause or local non-profit on as a PRO BONO client and building legitimate clips that way.

A single newsletter for a legitimate organization like the American Cancer Society or your local animal shelter will garner you more paying jobs than 100 web “articles” for which you were paid $10. When you look at jobs, you need to consider the legitimacy of the employer.

If you have no self-respect, if you can live off a partner’s wage and you want to “play” at being a writer, go ahead. Write for these mills who pay crap and who publish crap. And that’s where your career will stay. In the crapper.

If you want to actually build a legitimate career so you don’t have to work in someone else’s cubicle and you’ll be hired by companies for whom you’d actually like to work, network with other LEGITIMATE freelancers (who hang out in places like Anne Wayman’s About Freelancewriting, Absolute Write, Writers’ Weekly, Funds for Writers, etc. Read Peter Bowerman’s book THE WELL-FED WRITER, and visit his blog, linked to the right of this post. See what professionals with self-esteem and a sense of their own abilities are doing to make a reasonable living in this game.

If you don’t respect your work, why should anyone else?

Show a little self-respect. Charge a fair rate, and you’ll get an employer who values you, and work that’s good enough to launch you onto the next wage platform.

Devon

Note: Racing Ink will appear here later today. Regular “Ink in My Coffee” postings will resume either the 18th or 19th of May.