Tag Archives: short story

Is there anything wrong with writing ‘for free’?

£ I write for money.

$ Writing, and all the stuff I do connected with writing (teaching, judging, speaking, appraising) is how I earn my living.

£ But that doesn’t mean that I think that money is the only reason to write. I’m writing this post because I occasionally get asked, ‘Is it OK to write for free?’

$ Sometimes writers write for ‘a byline’ – I’m not keen on the practice because the editor’s usually getting paid. However, the author gets a clippings file out of it, which might help him or her get paying work in the end. If you can see that working for you, then why not?

£ Writers write for connections, too. If they produce something for nothing, possibly the editor will remember once there’s budget to pay writers. I feel that there should always be budget to pay writers, but still …

$ Once in a while, I’ve written for exposure. It means giving someone a short story (usually one that’s already been published, if I’m honest) and, in exchange, they publish it with details of my latest book, with the cover. It’s a way of paying for advertising indirectly, that’s all. On the other hand, I often manage to get paid to write the short story and get the advertising thrown in … which seems a much better deal.

£ And I completely understand why people would write for the plain old pleasure of it.

$ Back in the day I wrote two novels in the evenings. They were rubbish but I didn’t know they were and I’ve honestly never enjoyed writing anything more. It was self-indulgence, but in contrast to some other self-indulgent hobbies, writing’s cheap and doesn’t bother anyone. There’s no commitment to a regular class or club (unless you want to get involved with education or a writing group) and the people you meet in your imagination can be nicer/more fun/hotter/more interesting than any you meet in real life.

£ Most importantly, they never ask anything of you and they never get upset if you don’t see them regularly. Their relationship is with your imagination rather than with your corporeal self so they never judge you, either! Perfect.

$ So although I write for money … that doesn’t mean that I think everybody has to.

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