Is Freelance Writing Worth It?

“I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.” – A. J. Liebling (1904-1963)
There are people in this world who can write 5,000 words in a day on top of having a full-time job. Those who can do that will have time to edit and polish their words before a client’s 30-day (or less!) deadline. Thirty days can be plenty of time to write the first draft of a 50,000-word novel (hello, NaNoWriMo!). But without that time to edit and polish, those words won’t necessarily be good. And that can become problematic when a client publishes without proofreading. (In the world of low-level freelance ghostwriting, that is a thing. A big and ugly thing.)
Freelance writing can be long hours of work for too little pay. You can ghostwrite something you’re proud of, but you can’t share it because it’s not yours. Four years as a freelance ghostwriter has taught me writing-for-hire isn’t for everyone. More important, though, is that it’s taught me that it may not be for me.
The allure is there. I’ve written several novels and novellas that made clients happy. For me, they were at best unsatisfying and at worst damaging to both my desire to write and to my chill. And not everything satisfied every client. For the most part, that was because I sometimes write at a snail’s pace and can’t get myself to work any faster. My brain, which grew up writing fanfiction, has developed some kind of inhibitor inside it. It won’t let the words flow if there are other issues involved. Issue such as a client who is a misogynist. A client who doesn’t give feedback on the story increments they requested. A client who doesn’t answer questions to clarify something before you can continue. A client who wants a billionaire-bad-boy-biker-werewolf-alpha-pseudo-BDSM-white-savior-submissive-female romance* of at least 30,000 words in ten days.
Don’t get me wrong. I learned a lot from my freelance writing, much of it’s been fun, and it all has made me a better writer. But as deadlines loom and words stop flowing, it’s not cool to say, “I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to meet that deadline we agreed on.” It’s better for everyone involved if I work on my own fiction going forward.
I’ve had a science fiction trilogy in the works for a couple of years now. It languishes neglected in a corner because I’m too busy writing things for other people. That story calls to me every time I listen to music. I hear a song from my playlist or that would be perfect for it that sparks ideas. And, too, I’m working on learning to write short stories. Yes, I’ve written them before (see reference to fanfiction above). But I’d like to actually know what I’m doing regarding writing those original short stories I’ve started.
So, until further notice, unless the right project comes along, I’ll be writing for myself. Okay, I’ll be writing for myself and for eventual publication, either traditional or self. And while I work on those novels and stories, I’ll share here some of the things I’ve learned and will learn about writing.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I appreciate it. Feel free to ask questions or leave topic suggestions in the comments.
*That’s not actually a real thing. But it could be. And that scares me.

3 thoughts on “Is Freelance Writing Worth It?

    1. Some people love ghostwriting. A lot of what I learned about my own writing was from reading reviews on the books no one knows I wrote, so that was kind of great, not having to “own” the negative. 😇


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