Heartbreak in Freelance Writing

To stick with the writing theme, I thought I'd address the inevitable heartbreak a freelance write is destined to face in their career. Now, I am not talking about rejections, which is also something every writer is destined to experience (many times it has nothing to do with their talent or skill). Rejection is common enough that eventually you'll just dust yourself off and get right back in the game. If you're lucky, rejection is a great learning experience when a editor helps explain exactly why they didn't buy your piece. So, I'm not going to talk about rejection.

The heart break I am referring to, is the feeling you experience when you have to either turn down a a project you're really excited about or end a business relationship you really enjoy. I am pretty sure this will be something all freelance writers will eventually have to experience. It is the case where there is a project that you're really ecstatic and thrilled about, but for some reason, you just have to turn it down

In the last few months, I've actually had to either turn down or end the relationship with five clients. It was really hard, and it crushed me each time. These were all clients that I liked and projects I was excited to do. In the end, I wasn't able to justify doing them.

In my case, turning down the projects either had to do with it threatening to take up way too much time committed to other projects, or the client was unable (or unwilling) to pay me enough money to make it worth my time. Now, I am sure some of you aspiring writer were able to understand the first reason but started screaming "GREED RUINS ART" at the heavens after reading my second reason. Because it seems that among some writers, it is taboo to talk about money. For some reason, writing is the profession that it is a higher calling and it is far more important and valuable than money. We should be doing it for the fine art, love and passion of it rather than put some feeble monetary value on the work. To that I say, "piss off."

If you want writing to be this spiritual and magical experience, then more power to you. But make sure you keep it as a hobby. Because you'll be eating Ramen noodles for an eternity if you take that mentality into a freelance writing career. The reality is, if you want to make writing a business, then money has to be your first consideration. This doesn't mean that you always think about money. You can use the weekends to write poetry or things you find self rewarding. As a writer, you have to be able to occasionally write things you love in order to re-energize yourself. But to make an actual living, you need to make money the focus most of the time. This unfortunately means, that sometimes you can't afford to take on a project you'd love, because the client isn't willing or able to spring for the type of cash you need to spend the amount of time required.

This was the conundrum I've faced in the past week. There was some major projects that I was really excited about and I had already brainstormed a lot of ideas for. In the end, I couldn't find a way to justify the amount of time it would take, for the small amount of cash it would give me.

I'm in a fortunate place where I can now be a little bit choosier on the type of projects I take. It has also put me in a place where my time is getting far more valuable and I can only do things if it promises a certain rate. I know this has bothered some clients and maybe even made them think I was greedy. In the end, writing is my livelihood. This is how I pay the mortgage and keep the bill collectors away from my house. For me, my family's well being is my top priority and so part of taking care of them means I have the proper amount of money. To get that proper amount of money, I need to charge a specific amount in my job.

It seems that some writer forget that writing is a job. Not only is it a job, but it is skilled labour. It is something that not everyone can do well. So, a writer deserves a nice rate. Now, unfortunately, it can be hard to find those decent rates, but that doesn't mean you should be settling for a mere 5 cents a word or such rubbish. It is important to put value on your work and demand to be compensated a fair amount.

On the unfortunate side, this means you sometimes need to turn down work that you really wanted to do. I was really excited about these projects and one I actually had done some work on already. In the end, I needed to follow my philosophy and remember writing is a business. Hopefully, down the line I'll get a chance to do some similar work. For now, I'm glad I got a cheque to pay off my mortgage.


  1. Anonymous8:38 am

    Vincent Ho via Facebook:

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