Friday, May 6, 2011

Welcome To The Complaints Department: Please Take A Number And Have A Seat

What surprises me the most is not when someone wants me to write a 1,000 word article for them in an hour for $5. It's when they send it back to me for multiple re-writes then complain because it took me the entire hour.

Writing is easy. Any monkey with a typewriter can churn out words dozens at a time. It's only when we start talking about the need for quality that I become perturbed. Clients want quality articles, well-researched, with 100% original content. No problem. But pay me for it.

This is true of my work as a freelance writer and the nearly two decades I spent as a print reporter. Every organization is the same. The boss can't compose a sentence to save his life and often spells his own name wrong, but you should be able to churn out a 100 page document by lunch time. Tomorrow, you can re-write 'War and Peace' and have it on his desk by 5 p.m.

Unfortunately this is nothing new for writers. Charles Dickens did not develop his eloquent style by sheer force of will or his love of flowery sentences. He was paid by the word, therefore, if he spent an entire page describing a doorknob, all the better for him.

I am curious how it is for you. Have you encountered the same sort of lack of appreciation? How have you dealt with it? How did you react to it? How did you survive it?

Or are you still, a Starved Writer?

1 comment:

Jayne Martin said...

My background is in television writing, specifically TV-movies. Despite union rules and agents to run interference, I can't tell you how many free drafts I was asked to write over the years. You did it or word got out that you were "difficult." I was difficult, but still someone managed to eek out a pretty decent career up until about 2004. So oh yes. I'm very experience at being at the bottom of the food chain.