Everyone knows I am a #NoFreeWriting Ambassador. I believe you should get paid for your work, your intellectual property, your blood and tears. It took a while for me to navigate the literary landscape and arrive at my current position. I don’t regret the days I wrote for free or was swindled of work but I like where I am now and I am not going back.
So why in the world am I still considering writing for free? It is wrong. It is exploitative. It is thoroughly discouraging the emergence of talent and the development of the craft. Yes it is, but sometimes writing for free can be a good thing. Here are ten occasions you should write for free and feel absolutely no guilt.
1. Your Private Diary/ Journal/Blog
Everything seems to be documented in the public domain these days with social media being the preferred means of sharing experiences, thoughts and feelings. Some things are however too controversial, painful, raw or private for the whole world to see. Writing in a journal or diary can help you:
gather your thoughts without any performance pressure
experiment with style and form
leave a record for yourself and posterity
dabble and brainstorm.
Whatever your reasons, this is one time where you should not feel guilty about time spent versus money-made. Who knows? Your journal could even be optioned and published someday.
2. Your Public Blog/Website/Project
It can be hard to churn out content data after day without any compensation or remuneration. All the hard work that goes into creating work just ignored like a kitten fart. But don’t despair. Writing for your personal blog might not pay immediately but it can be immensely rewarding. It can grow your readership and fans; help you understand your work better; serve as clips for future jobs; be a 24-hour advert to head hunters, agents, editors and publishers; and if you are lucky, advertisers who like what you do can support you. Then Boom! You are the next Linda Ikeji
3. For The Blogs Of Friends/Family
Good writing is hard. It is valuable: made from blood, sweat and tears. It can be frustrating to create without any tangible value received in return but writing for family and friends is different. Just the way you would share your food, home or money with them you can also gladly and proudly lend your words to boost their site or blog without any guilt. Think of it as having each other’s back. Hopefully, it will be a mutually beneficial experience where you get more readers, they get more traffic and everyone gains. Even if it doesn’t work that way, it will be another deposit in your love bank and writers need all the love they get.
4. For a Cause You Care About
Some of the most needy causes are some of the most overlooked. Editors will often commission features that have been flogged to death while important topics languish from neglect. That is where you come in. You can ride in on your white horse (or pink or green or black) and save the day. With your words you can help create awareness for important neglected topics like: mental health, autism, poverty, child’s rights, the environment, wild life and more. With your pen/pad/laptop you can save the world one piece/poem at a time. No one might pay you but that is what heroes love for. And writers are heroes. Yup, that is what you are.
If you have been saved, then the least you can do is to save someone else. If you belong to any place that provides nourishment and salvation, eternal life and peace then you shouldn’t let worldly things like money stop you from being a blessing. Many religious publications struggle to find good content. That content can be difference between who is reached and who is unreached. So the next time you come across a tweet asking for help that you give in this domain please give it a thought.
6. For a Fun Free Project You Believe in
Many people charge writers to submit; sell their work and don’t give them a penny back; rogues and robbers. That isn’t what I am talking about. I am talking about projects that collate writing by people you believe in, charities you support, topics that fascinate you or all three for that matter. Like the anthology call for writers of your demographic by that passionate broke editor that will edit you till you shine or that mad call for stories with sex in the air. Anything, quirky, genuine and fun that matters to you? Write for yourself, no one can afford you anyway.
7. For a Byline
A byline is a place that has published your work in the past. Now, you don’t need to have written for over a day to know that non-paying places outnumber the paying about 1000 to 1, and it gets worse if you write fiction, or poetry, or write from sub-Saharan Africa or are a new, unknown writer.The problem is, when a writing job — that scarce precious resource– does come, the first thing they will look at is your byline. Where have you been published before? Who else has liked your work? And believe it or not, something is (mostly) better than nothing. So when you have an offer to write for a place that will improve your writing credentials, consider it.
Side note: do this with an eye on the clock. Besides, you only need to do it once for it to count.
8. For Growth & Opportunity
Every 1000 years (just kidding) there comes a chance to work with a talented editor, a gifted translator, a revered mentor, a dream team that will make you more than you could be on your own; but they have no money. They however value your work and want to make it the best it can be. Take it. Think of it as trade by batter or training or ‘getting your work out in the world’. Such opportunities are few in today’s world, recognize that and act accordingly.
9. When You Want To
You are a writer, a creator, a god. And it is the right of every god to do as they please (within limits). So, if the fancy strikes you, to share your divinity with mortality, then by all means do so. Grace this world with your light and love and language. Bequeath it your goodness. Gift it your unique, inimitable voice. After all, time is running out and you only get one chance on this orb.
10. For eXpOSuRe
I don’t know where this word came from but I know exposure can make you fall ill and catch a cold (Saint face).
Anyway, this means writing for a publication/site/company/blog/individual that solicited your magic for a paying concern but somehow managed to ‘have no budget for writers’. Really? (Yes, dem pleeeeenty) I have said a lot about how I feel about this. In summary: giving your blood and sweat over to a merchant to hawk, profit and not pay you is a no; the promise that you will get eXpOSuRe is a scam. A gamble, that your name on their site will magically pay your rent or school fees or grocery bill. We all know that (almost) never happens. But if the spirit has spoken to you, the burning bush has called your name, you have seen the fleece and you think it is the right thing to do,or you believe the hype will be worth it, your gut says go, your head doesn’t say no; then flourish.
So there it is folks. All the reasons to sit over a blank page bleeding without a dime in sight. The one million reasons not to? Ah. You have to like this and share it and follow the blog so you don’t miss it when it is out. That is the currency here, beloved, you can call it SaintCoin.
Thank you for reading this. Do you ever write for free? Did I miss anything? You are welcome to comment.
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