Pieces of Me

Do you write for free?

Getting my nails done, she asks.
Having my hair cut, he asks.
Standing in the park, the mothers ask.

“I don’t get your blog. Why do you write? Do you make any money?”

I am tired of the ceaseless justification I feel is expected of me when asked this question. Tired of the lies I sometimes spin to appease the appetite of the person asking. I have danced around this issue many times, in snippets in blog posts and passing conversations. But today I feel that I need to be accountable.

Writing is not something that I do. Writing is something that I am.

I want to give my words and my voice the platform they deserve to be heard. Whatever blocks I may use to build that platform, I will keep building it. Where this journey may take me, I do not know. But the exhilaration of the ride so far is something I would never trade – just for money.

Yes, I freelance some of my work on platforms that pay me to do so. I also freelance some of my work on platforms that do not pay me to do so. Each time it is my choice.

Kelly Exeter has defined the reason and the logic of ‘writing for free’ so eloquently on The Shake and Kiki and Tea. The most resounding message is that each writer has choice. With that choice, each writer is entitled to drive their career in the direction that they choose. I make the choices that I do with my eyes wide open and I am both aware of and willing to accept the consequences.

My choices however, do not place me in any position to judge the choices of others.

The debate of writers being paid for their work will never stop. Allison Tait teases out the idea so perfectly in her book Get Paid to Write: The Secrets of Freelance Writing Success. She encourages writers to value their work and themselves. “Writing for free can be valuable. But if you’re going to give away your words, make sure you choose wisely where they go.” Here we are again, back at the beginning. Choice.

For me the writing is enough. The words, the voices and the stories dance in my head all day, all night. I will always write and pursue the opportunities that allow those words and voices to be heard. Some of those opportunities will be paid, others will not.

Do you write for free

Pip tells the beautiful story of the painter she met who sat beside the hustle and bustle of life painting his canvases. His paintings, as Pip discovered, were not for sale. They were simply there for people to enjoy. They were there for the painter to enjoy. There is a lesson in that. We may live in a society that will forever be held hostage to money and the monotony of paying our bills. Yet, jumping off the rollercoaster every now and again may prove to be more empowering than we think. So please, stop asking about the money.

Do you write for free?

  • Pip (@melbournelass)

    Josefa, you’ve just inspired my favorite sentence I believe I’ll read all week. Writing is something I am. As we don’t get paid for all our words, in my mind, our writing is priceless. Thanks for setting the ‘But why do you blog?!’ clan straight. I love that you liked the painter story. So much energy exists in the story telling as you constantly illustrate. x

  • Leanne Shea Langdown

    Love that statement! Writing is not something that I do. Writing is something that I am. Yep, that just about sums it all up right there. Ditto.
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  • Renee at Mummy, Wife, Me

    People should really mind their own business. Writing is something you love, your passion, you shouldn’t have to justify why you do that.

  • Kathy www.yinyangmother.com

    Lovely Josefa – I used to get paid full time as a journo to write, but it is not the same. When we control the message, then we should be able to control whether we get paid for its exposure. I’m with you, the words just have to get out (except for writer’s block unfortunately).

  • Kelly Exeter

    Thank you for the mention Josefa … and yes, I completely agree with you. Writing is something I am too. Usually when people ask why I do it (blog/write) I just say ‘because it makes me happy’. That’s usually enough to stop the endless questioning!

  • Writing is the cheapest therapy I can do! It helps clear my mind, I don’t care if I get paid or not! Love this piece.

  • Nee Say

    Love this post! So well put x

  • It must get old having to explain yourself all the time. Very few people “IRL” know about my blog so it’s not something I find myself doing much. And while I blog, I don’t consider myself a “writer” but I do love clearing my head of various thoughts, and having some kind of record of my life, my feelings, my emotions, because in 10 years I’ll have forgotten some of these moments I’ve managed to capture and record. xo Aroha

  • Chantel

    Well put!!!! 🙂

  • As the Editor-in-Chief of KiKi & Tea, I’m often asked the same question. “Do you make money from it?” and I’m pretty open in saying no. I also advise others not to go into blogging thinking it’s some kind of get rich quick scheme. It isn’t. The reason to write is simply because you can’t not write.

    I even have that in my bio on the website. I don’t write because I love to write, I write because I never stop talking. Words keep coming out of me, and they need a place to go.

    I wrote about this kind of thing recently as well, which Kelly read and her post is in part a response to, and to me it comes to this:

    “A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets the most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that surely will outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price.”

    (my post is here: http://bit.ly/1bPEtSV)

  • I write because it makes me happy and brings me fulfillment. The question I’m asked all the time is “Where do you find the time?”

  • Oh I have tossed and turned on this topic for so long until I found some peace. My peace. You have hit the nail on the head; choice.
    There is a whole world of discussion that can be held on this; writers being paid their worth, the industry being valued, writing for exposure, writing for the love of it but really it can be simplified into a choice. I hold my words and I choose where I put them, paid and unpaid.

  • Sophie Allen

    Your writing is inspiring and it is very clear to your readers that it is who you are.

    I write so my family can keep up to date with some of our goings on, and because sometimes I think I can add a little bit of humour as I retell our adventures.

  • TwitchyCorner

    Loved this post and agree with every single word. You were made to write, Josefa. Creative pursuits will always be at the mercy of scrutiny because those who do not have the fire in their belly will never understand it.

    As for me, it is quite possible writing is about who I will be, as much as who I am. At least I hope so. xx

  • The Plumbette

    The other question I get is how many readers read what you write? Well even if I had one person wouldn’t that be enough? If its helping someone in some way then who cares about the numbers? Great post that I can really relate to.

  • greatgoogamoogas

    I write for the joy of it 🙂 I love to write and it is something I need to do to be me. I certainly wouldn’t say no to writing for money, but not getting paid won’t stop me from writing.
    Stopping by from IBOT ♥

  • I write to talk. Talk talk talk talk. The other stuff is just the icing on the cake…that I am quite likely to eat too.

  • I do it to get the conversation out of my head. I’m tired of all the talk about money too.

  • I write for free on my blog and I will ALWAYS write for free for charity etc. However my newspaper feature writing I’m paid for as is my web content, ghost blogging and PR work – but that’s my profession so I need to get paid otherwise I wouldn’t be able to afford the computer I’m ‘writing’ on!
    But I get your point, I blog because I enjoy it. I just wish I had more time to write for fun and NOT get paid for it x

  • TeganMC

    I write for myself, because I enjoy sharing my words and I enjoy that they help to educate. I love sharing my thoughts and having them help people to question what they thought to be true. Getting paid is just one of the awesome upsides.

  • I’ve always written, but would never call myself a writer. I just write what’s in my head before I forget it. I love that because I have the control over what I write, I can make it whatever I like.

  • Emma Fahy Davis

    I’m learning to write for free! I’ve been a journo for 10 years and being paid to write was pretty cool, but to be honest I’m enjoying writing for free so much more – writing about whatever I feel like writing about without being accountable to anyone except me. #teamIBOT

  • Rach

    I’m writing for free, for sanity and love of it xx Love your post honey as always xx

  • I write my blog for “free” and free is absolutely what it makes me. Money isn’t the only payment. x

  • PS – I doubt I’d write for someone else without payment, though… but as I said, money isn’t the only way to pay something and barter is alive and well in my world!! x

  • Rita

    Great great post Josefa. I’m so sick of people asking me what’s the deal with my blog? Why do I blog? Some people don’t understand that someone can have other motivations than money to do something.

  • I pooped by from IBOT and was glad I did. This is a great post. Yes I write for free and I love it 🙂

  • Robyn (Mrs D)

    Great post and I too often feel the to justify why I write and what is the purpose!! I just love to and thats that!! xx

  • Kim@ Spirited Mama

    I think writing for free,,giving away ideas, sharing, making connection is such a wonderful experience, and in a way, it’s just like talking on a different platform. I think sometimes that’s forgotten because so often writing is viewed as a career rather than communication. Love,y post josefa x

  • Yes! Everything I write on my blog is technically for free, and I would be happy to write on platforms with a wide readership for free. I am not precious about it. But I am fortunate to be paid well for my writing in other capacities. Choice is everything. x

  • Oh Josefa I’m with you, so tired of justifying why I blog. I write because I must. Fortunately for me the blogging dovetails nicely with my business and has led to work, but even if it didn’t, I’d still be blogging (though maybe not posting as regularly!)

  • I write for free, for me, AND for money! And like Maxabella, for bartering sometimes. I write because I can, because I want to, because I enjoy it. And if it gets made into a career (I DO have a degree in journalism, but I don’t want to write news), then all the better, I think. But there are a million reasons to blog! I get the feeling it’s becoming more and more of a recognised thing now though 🙂

  • MummaLish

    Fabulous post! I think blogging is such a personal thing, everyone has different reasons to blog and different motivations to do so. I do write for free, but am open to paid opportunities as my blog and myself evolve. I love to write, so I do write for the love of it, though the dream of being paid to do what I love is always at the back of my mind.

  • Emily Morgan

    I do indeed write for free, and for remuneration when I can get it. I agree with you – writing is something we are, not that we do, and that can be extremely difficult for people to get their heads around. I find myself always bringing it back to the money, justifying my blog time by saying things like, “it helps build my audience,” etc. But really, that is not reason. Great post!

  • I have written hundreds of thousands of words in other (paid) capacities but I have recently started my blog because it makes me feel happy and allows me to express ideas in a way that I haven’t found with my spoken voice. People have been very supportive until a comment from a friend this morning along the lines of “why would people want to read about you?” Hmmm… not to worry. My fingers will remain at the keyboard.
    Loving your blog, Josefa 🙂

  • I love this post! I’m a blogger who blogs for free, and I can say what I like. I’m not a judge, and it’s everyone’s right to blog for whatever reason they wish. Love your blog, by the way. xxx

  • Oh my goodness, what a great post! As I was reading, I was thinking of how a true artist would still paint even if no-one ever bought a painting and how a true musician would still make music even if they never earned any money from it … and then you concluded with the same allusion 🙂 Your writing is so poetic and beautiful and I think that anyone who is a true writer feels, just like you said, that writing is something that they are, not something that they do. The insights and the joys that creating a blog like yours gives to your readers is worth far more than a pay check! 🙂

  • Lucy @ Bake Play Smile

    I love this! Good on you. The world needs passionate writers like you! I’m a newbie blogger and have absolutely loved delving into the world of blogging, sharing ideas, making friends and having a laugh…. and that’s certainly worth more than money!

  • Great post Josefa! I love the comparison to the painter. It’s true that writers and other artists create things for value, and that sometimes the question of doing it for free is a sticky one. But you are right, it is our choice where we publish our words, and what price – if any – we ask.

  • Travelling Macs

    oh how I’d love to have a job that paid me to write. But for now I shall still write as a hobby. My wish at this point is more time to dedicate to it 🙂

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