Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

The Value of Good Writing

I feel like a prostitute. 

Since I need to supplement my income to some extent this spring, I decided to take the plunge deeper into the world of freelance, selling my writing/editing services to those who might have need. I jumped in with enthusiasm, thinking I have so much to offer and could perhaps make some spending money (at the very least) doing something that I enjoy.

But then ugly reality smacked me in the face--many people undervalue the time and effort that goes into writing. They seem to think its easy and doesn't take much time, so they shouldn't have to pay much. For example:
  • There's the man who wants 30 articles (around 500 words each) for $30.00 total.
  • There the company that has several projects posted. In each one they write "The work required to complete this project to our satisfaction is trivial for a professional writer; please keep this in mind when proposing your bid" Translation: professional writers should undervalue their work and make low bids if they want this job.
  • There are the numerous students with more money then sense who want someone to write their class assignments for them, but  even then don't offer much money.
  • There's the professional editing company looking for editors who didn't even bother to edit their job proposal.
If the work is so easy, why don't they do it themselves?

I admit, I took one of these jobs (the first one) because I wanted to start building a good reputation and hopefully garner more jobs. I asked if they would negotiate the price, but was given a firm "NO!" I will stick to my commitment, but I am angry at myself and frustrated. I will not accept work from this company again.

[caption id="attachment_7704" align="alignleft" width="584"]Working for myself, writing for love, valuing my words. Working for myself, writing for love, valuing my words.[/caption]

This morning, as I dredged through more possibilities, looking for that legitimate company that will pay decent wages for the hours and the quality, I began to wonder why words are so undervalued. Is it because there are so many people in the world who dream of becoming writers? Is it because there are so many of us who share our words for free in the form of blog posts? Is it because when a writer is good it seems almost effortless? Is it because so many of us spend hours of unpaid time pursuing our dream of writing books with no guarantee that those books will every be published?

Are writers, by nature, masochists who sell themselves and their words for pennies? Why is the written word so undervalued in our society when they can be the most powerful weapons toward change?

Today I feel like a prostitute, but I will not give in or give up. I value myself and my time too much to continue to apply for work with people who undervalue that work. I will only apply for jobs that pay decent per hour wages and/or offer a decent flat rate, and I will be the judge of what I consider decent. Will I price myself out of the market? Perhaps, but the more important questions is--do I want to work with people who aren't willing to pay for the time and effort.

There is the saying "you get what you pay for." Maybe that's why there is so much bad writing out in the world.

How much do you think a good writer is worth? Why do you think good writing is so undervalued in our society?