I was reading an article on the August 2013 publication of the UK Writing magazine, on ‘Persuasive tactics’ writers should learn to utilise if they want to succeed. One of the points in the article that really struck out at me like a thumb almost poking my out eye because I was leaning in far too close to try to absorb all the knowledge the article had to give out. Serves me right!
The point that hurt to read was on how ‘People value scarcity’. Now they didn’t mean scarcity in other parts of life where as a writer we are always looking for job(s) that can pay, and which are scarce. NO! In fact, what the article was telling me, and no doubt other writers who happened to stumble upon it was that people value scarcity in ‘time’. It was basically screaming for me to value my time, which I’m sad to say I don’t value as much as I should because in these initial days I’m grasping at any opportunity that is offered, be it mentoring, consulting, copy, opinion – I give it freely! And then later wonder where the respect was, or ‘thank you’.
Every one likes free stuff in this world – you and me both, but these should always be in moderation. Why should we continue to give out our best works, our prime time to help someone else establish their projects etc. when that same help is never reciprocated? And scary enough, this article says exactly that: if writers continue to devalue their time and talent, no one else who is using their free service will rightly give them the value and respect for their time and talent being used. The ‘Persuasive tactics’ article, written by Patrick Forsyth in fact says, and I quote here; ‘Value your work and make others do so too.’… until this day, writers are at risk of being manipulated to carry out the work for someone without due respect and valuing of their time and effort.
I know this from experience. I used to consult a particular group on scripts and how to improve them, or even partially or entirely rewrite them. I thought I was being given enough respect when help was always asked for, and knew that I had some talent and experience behind me to adequately do the job. I’ve since learned that my time was only valued when they needed my help, but when a time came that I needed their support, none was forthcoming, especially to help me promote my recent book release. Now, of course, I am a little bitter to have finally found out that my time and myself had been used. So do be cautious who you help out initially, and even if this is done so, make sure you value your own time and efforts and work within your own schedule – DO NOT run on their schedule. They need your help, not the other way around, and yes, you are using that platform for experience but still, it is your skills that are handed out without payment/gratitude, so make sure others respect you for the effort you put in.
As for me, I have decided that the next time I am approached by this particular company, I will decline, or rather, ask that they pay me for my time. Enough is enough.
VALUE YOUR TIME/EFFORT/TALENT or no one else will either!