After yet another fruitless search for some form of paid writing job to keep me occupied while I finish my degree, I have found myself once again applying for yet more unpaid work. Why do I do it?! I ask myself that every time.
I’ve taken on loads of unpaid writing work that eventually I have drifted from and stopped writing for altogether because the desire to just do what I’m passionate about without caring about money dissipates. At first, the promise of ‘published experience that will look great on your CV’ was enough, knowing I would need lots of published experience to ever even have a hope of getting paid to write. But three or so years on the fact I am still being promised published experience for my CV is almost insulting.
The simple solution is of course to ignore anything that’s unpaid. Don’t like that they don’t want to pay for your labour? Don’t apply! It really is that simple. But I want to write, I want to be able to make a career of it and I search for ages for writing jobs to keep me occupied and to keep my writing ability fresh. It is a sad truth that these creative roles, be it writing, acting, singing or any number of other creative skills, are often exploited. We are passionate about something, so people exploit your passion and you end up being manipulated into agreeing to work hard at what you enjoy for nothing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the opportunities I have had when it comes to writing and these unpaid roles that have allowed me to develop and improve my writing and build a good portfolio of published work have been invaluable, but there comes a point when you feel like you have developed as much as you can with the help of unpaid work and your abilities are finally worthy of payment of some kind.
I feel like the unpaid work was a great opportunity, and now it’s not. I feel like I’m at a standard where I have a right to ask so called ’employers’ what’s in it for me? And I also feel like the answer should be more than just ‘experience’. I guess I just thought that by now, after working deliberately hard to pave some sort of career, I would be getting somewhere; i.e. making some money. As it stands I hardly have any of my overdraft left and I can’t even afford a cheap bottle of wine to drown my sorrows in!
Maybe it was never realistic to believe I could do what I love and get paid for it, and perhaps the unpaid work is the truth of it all…maybe there was never a promise of making a career out of my writing. As frustrated as I get that all these job ads I’m finding sound great until the inevitable ‘by the way this position is unpaid’ bit at the end, maybe I should just find something else to aim for, something that’ll actually…you know…pay!
After all, this blog isn’t going anywhere and there’s a lot more satisfaction to be had from getting no money writing on a site you’ve created and nurtured for ages than writing for some randomer who’ll happily demand what and how you should write and how frequently without giving anything in return.
What do you guys think? Fellow bloggers, is unpaid work a curse or a good thing?