At 26, and in what I hope will be deemed “The Early Years” of my writing career, unpaid writing is something with which I am both familiar and comfortable. When I’ve spoken to older or more experienced writers, they have a hard time imagining themselves ever writing for free. They’re past that, they’ve made names for themselves, published books, hustled in a different time and place… but I wonder if writing for free is really something to dismiss?
For me, writing sans compensation is a way for me to get clips, to break down barriers, and to meet (even if virtually) other people. It’s a way to collaborate with fellow bootstrappers who are also making a few things up as they go along. We’re experimenting with what and how we write. I rarely, if ever, feel that I am just giving words away. It feels more like sharing and collaborating with other like-minded artists than providing them with my goods. They give me a platform, I give them some words– it’s a win-win.
It is oft that I dream of a writing life that has 100% of my working hours and real life print editions are accepting my pitches and articles with glee. But in that dream I still see myself as someone who will write for free and not just for myself on a blog or a journal or a Facebook post to my mom. I truly believe that I would and will continue to write for free to keep experimenting. What I am really good at can make the money, and new things that interest me or challenge me can be used for new publications and websites. Like practice rounds. It is a way to constantly fuel my writing life.
Writing for free has led me to celebrity interviews, travel, and putting awkward photos of myself working out online. It has given me the opportunity to experiment, get my feet wet and meet virtual partners in crime. Is the plan to one day be a paid writer? Of course! Will I stop experimenting and writing for free? Only if it ever stops this amazing flow of people and creativity into my life.