This post is dedicated to my friend (and competitor, I suppose, but whatever) Lori Widmer at Words on the Page, who is the force of nature behind Writers Worth Day. The video features science fiction novelist and screenwriter Harlan Ellison ranting about being asked to contribute his work for free. (Warning: includes undeleted expletives.)
For those of you who won’t watch the 3:24 video (you know who you are), here’s an excerpt: “They always want the writer to work for nothing. And the problem is, there’s so [expletive] many writers who have no idea that they’re supposed to be paid — every time they do something, they do it for nothing!”
My friend Lori Widmer is a seasoned writer and blogger, and a tireless advocate of better pay for pixel-stained wretches everywhere. Five days a week she offers brief, cogent (and well-written!) advice to writers and would-be writers on her blog, Words on the Page. She has an active commenting community of fellow writers who chime in on a daily basis with encouragement, ideas and horror stories.
Lori has declared that today is “Writers Worth Day,” a day for all of us in the writing “industry” to take a stand against the cheesy job boards and websites that offer, for example, payment of $5 for a well-researched, original blog post of 300 words or more. “Our careers depend on your turning down bad deals because each time you accept a lousy offer, you validate the existence of people who don’t value writing skills,” she declares, and I say, hear hear!
I quibble a bit with her references to a writing “industry.” I think writing actually is broader and more fundamental than an industry. Writing is a close cousin to knowledge, and while people speak of “knowledge workers,” I don’t think there’s really a “knowledge industry” — despite 618,000 Google hits for the term. It seems like an “industry” should be more narrowly defined, and have at least some barriers to entry.
But I certainly agree with her that capable writers should be taken seriously — especially by themselves. We do add value. Speaking of which…