Ok, so I’ve recently became freelance (yes that’s right, at the beginning of an enormous recession, with mass unemployment rates and basically the whole world on fire- I timed it well).
Now this may not be news to you, but it turns out being a freelance writer is not a get rich quick scheme. It also turns out the only way I can be freelance at the moment is to temporarily move back into my childhood bedroom. I lie, into my sister’s childhood bedroom, which in some weird and subconscious way makes me feel less like I’m tumbling into the depths of childhood regression and more like a long-standing and often unconscientious guest of my parents. It’s all about those mind tricks.
This was my plan; quit my full-time job, start charging for all the writing I do anyway for free and then boom. Career success. And what do I want to write about? Really, I just want to write about art. This is what I am truly interested in, what inspires me to switch on my computer or pick up a pen. I want to talk about it I want to show it off I want to look and look and get excited and make you all excited about it too.
Is it too much to ask to want to get paid for it as well?
If the answer’s no then great! But why then was it acceptable for a client to offer me only $50 for almost 2000 words (worse, I’ve seen on Upwork $2–5 per thousand). And why is it that nobody else seems to have complained? The client in question has reams of staff writers, all of whom are highly educated, all writing very well-researched and SEO-ed articles and all earning round about thirty five quid for it. Unfortunately the first one I wrote literally took two days of back and forthing with the editor. So that’s a stonking £17.50 day rate.
Should I keep chugging away at it, earning pittance and hoping to be spotted? It seems to me that I could be doing this forever, just another schmuck spewing out content with the vague promise that their big break is just around the corner. This, by the way is a real question, all answers much appreciated in the comments box. And yes, it does strike me as ironic that I have written this article for free.
How do you do it, fellow writers? Are you all just bashing things out and sending them out into the ether hoping for the best? Do you literally not give a damn about your output, you just forget about it and start something else, or are you all living romantic bohemian lives together in your fingerless gloves and smoking roll-ups at your desk and if so can I come live with you?
Writing can be hard and emotional and sometimes requires so much thought that afterwards there is tension running all down the back of your body. At other times though it can be like skimming water, gravity defying and the most delicious feeling in the world. Writing can be so many things. But what it should always be is paid for.
Can I afford to write? Possibly not, but in many ways, I also can’t afford not to.