At first glance, the title of this post is a big fat ol’ “DUH!” Of course writing is work. I’m not saying that as if it was a surprise. I’m actually trying to announce to the world that I am, once again, trying to write for money instead of just for the pleasure/need of it. For those who don’t know me (most of you), you don’t know that I spend over a year trying to navigate the content mills/freelance sites/elance, guru, etc. trying to scrape together a living with my writing skills. I completely failed.
OR DID I? Really, I didn’t fail any more than every other writer does who tries to do what I did. Elance.com, Guru.com, all of those sites—they are a total scam. They legitimately set up contract services with writers and clients, but their culture is one of earning maybe a few dollars per article. If you take the time to research and write something that contains complete sentences and cohesive thought and structure, you will earn, maybe a dollar an hour. Supposedly, you can build a portfolio and start charging more, but with so many people offering to write for clients for just a few dollars, you really cannot move up. So, it was no longer an option. That and the time that a client insisted I change an article to be grammatically incorrect and quite frankly nonsensical, just to include a keyword that wasn’t really a word.
So, here’s the work I am doing now. Magazine articles. Short stories. Poems. I am getting back to the heart and soul of what I write. I will NEVER, EVER, EVER write another article about zodiac tattoos—well, I may, but it won’t be at .05 cents a word (you heard me, a half a cent per word!)
I am being creative again with my writing. I’m putting my heart into my writing again.
I just wrote a short story about Winston Churchill for a kid’s magazine. It was important enough to me to get it to them, that I spend sixty bucks to overnight it in order to meet the query deadline. I researched and learned about Sir Winston, and wrote historical fiction for the first time in my life. I actually gained quite an admiration for Churchill, based on how he acted as a younger man (think Indiana Jones fighting the Germans). I wrote another short story for a kids’ religious magazine and sent it off. After this blog entry is done, I plan to maybe do a little revising on my middle-grade (MYSTIC MARBLE), or I may start gathering and editing a book of poetry for submission to a publisher who is running a contest specifically for poetry books.
What is my point? Well, I am working hard, for one. My family is slowly, oh so slowly, learning that they need to not bother me so much when I am “at the desk.” Right now, the TV is so incredibly loud in the other room, but we’re taking baby steps. If I am going to contribute to the family budget, I will have to submit, submit, submit, write, write, write—sheer volume will have to make up for the fact that everything I write won’t be purchased.
The big takeaway, though, is that I am writing with passion again. It’s work, but it’s good work, not mindless, sweatshop, slave labor breaking rocks with an icepick.
Please, if you ever, for a moment, consider looking for work on Elance, Guru, Examiner.com, any of those things, just…. don’t. It’s not worth your time and energy if you’re not putting your passion into the work (I have written just a few things that I’ve been able to point at and say that I was writing with passion. Surprise, surprise, those are the SAME few things that my clients actually gave me writing credits to… coincidence? You decide….). Don’t let the content mills suck your brain and your creative passion dry. Find clients who value the work you do, and pay you what you are worth. They are out there. The avenues are out there, be they content services that pay in real money, not Monopoly money, or if it be through freelancing for magazines. You are worth it. You really are.
What about you? Have you had experiences with freelance writing? Horror stories? Happy stories? What’s your take on content writing?