Monday, February 27, 2012

Getting Vested - The Long Answer

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about Getting Vested in writing. Well, saavy reader Emily asked a question that I think deserves an answer:

Do you think being 'vested in writing' actually requires an output of 'hard, cold cash'? Or do you think thinking and reading (and writing and writing) can be ever enough?

First, I want to clarify that this is simply my opinion. Second, no matter what I say, there will always be exceptions, so please take it with a grain of salt. Now on to the juicy stuff.

The short answer is "Yes." Yes, I think being vested in writing requires an output of 'hard, cold cash.'

The long answer is a little more convoluted, but it will bring us back to the short answer, so stay with me here. IMHO, there are two ways to invest yourself in writing:
  1. Spending Money
  2. Spending Time
I'll start with #2. Any time you spend writing is investing yourself. This includes any form of writing. Blogs, journals, short stories, vignettes, longer works, whatever. Hopefully this is consistent writing, still, it all counts.

Time you spend educating yourself on the craft of writing is investing yourself. This includes attending conferences and workshops. It includes formal education. It includes reading blogs on writing, reading books on writing, and it includes reading books in the genre you write. Education is always an investment.

So here's where we get to the meat of the thing. Look at that second list about educating yourself. Many of those things cost money. Conferences? Workshops? College-level classes? Money, money, and more $$$. Books on writing? Not so cheap. Books in your genre? Not SO expensive, but money, neverthe less.

Now I can hear you protesting.

"But I use the library."

"I get books for free through blog contests."

"I attend the FREE WriteOnCon Conference."

I say, wonderful! Great resources. I love the library. I love WriteOnCon. I love blog contests!

But here's the catch: Time = Money

I know, cliche-city, but it's true. I work for myself and I know exactly how much my time is worth. I know exactly how much I am not earning when I choose to spend my time elsewhere. Spending time is a monetary investment.

Finally, I think there is a place where you must simply suck it up and pay the hard cold cash, because there is no substitution of time. As a serious writer, you should join a writing association. Whether that's SCBWI, RWA, NWA, a local group or whatever, do it. Joining a group is a declaration to yourself that you're serious. And bonus, it's a declaration to others (i.e. agents and editors).

So yes, to be vested, I do think you need to shell out some cash.

What's your opinion?


Stina said...

I think it's both, but I'm still going with the money part. Sure, you might have read a lot of books, but if you like reading (and you have to like reading to be a writer), then you would have been reading anyway.

There's nothing wrong with borrowing books from the library, but if you only read a craft book once (because you borrowed it), you might not get the most out of it. I find I have to read concepts a few times before they start to make sense and build on what I already know.

Of course I'm saying this because I do spend a lot of money on workshops, conferences, and craft books (not to mention the times to attend of read them). ;)

Old Kitty said...

The best large amount of monies (for me) spent for myself was my Open University writing course - it was TOTALLY worth it and I'm saving up again to do the next level. I think spending hard cash on your dreams is inevitable - it's spending the monies wisely is the thing to remember.

On the otherhand - there are facilities freely available - the public library being the first and most important one for me!

Take care

Anonymous said...

Been meaning to do this. Thanks for the links. I'm off to join one right now.

LTM said...

Well... I think you're right. I mean, well, at least partly. I started writing and went writer crazy, pounding out four MSs in less than 18 mos. Then I hit the revise/rewrite/find agent/go on subs/ deal with all that... and the writing got pushed back.

Now I've joined the local SCBWI, and we've got our deal starting. I think sometimes it's the kick in the pants you need to get going either at first or again. :o) <3

MikeS said...

I haven't invented any money, and look where I'm at. Nowheres'ville.

Anonymous said...

Great post with lots of important points made. If you have to put some money out to further your writing, you are more likely to take it seriously.

Kimberly said...

I agree that it does take a little money. But the great thing is, each writer can decide how much to invest in themselves and their writing. :)

Stacy S. Jensen said...

I think it's both time and money. For writers, I find it amazing the number of classes, books, programs, etc. out there to take a writer's money. I think it's important to investigate. Debbie Allen shares a wide variety of free resources for writers at her blog, when you are looking for the free resources.

Amie Kaufman said...

Firstly, my husband totally just looked over my shoulder and asked whether 'getting vested' involved putting on a vest. Just so you know ;)

Secondly, of course you're right -- time is money. I've never paid for a course, but I've put a huge amount of time into improving my craft, and I do so every day. That time's an investment all of its own. And when it comes to spending actual $$, I agree that joining an association is really important just in terms of letting yourself and everyone around you know that this is serious!

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Well, I think I have to agree with you - you summed it up very well. Even though you may not think you're spending money, you are - at least in terms of time spent when you could be earning. Well said.

Jen said...

I agree with you. It's both and they are connected. As a college student enrolled in a creative writing degree program, I know first hand that it does take money to invest in this writing life. Does one need a degree to write? Absolutely not! That was my decision and one I'm happy with. But regardless of whether you enroll in college or buy a discount book on writing sci-fi novels, you're always going to invest money in what you love. And time, as you said, is money. Time and money: they are important and where we invest them shows us what we value most.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

It does take money, absolutely. The free stuff is great, but some things are worth paying for and make for better writing and networking.

Emily said...

There's a lot to think about here. I'm so glad you posted your long answer!

Carolyn V said...

I think you have to love what you do, but that being said. It is a job and most jobs pay you money. And yes, it takes time to learn the craft and everything else that goes along with writing. It's just a part of the writing world. ;)

Shallee said...

I agree! Time is a huge investment, and I put in a lot of that before I ever put in money. But once I started putting up the cash for conferences, writing books, and the like, my writing improved immensely. I took myself more seriously, and so did other people. A monetary investment is a huge part of being a writer, even if it's only little bits.

Margo Berendsen said...

I agree, though I keep putting off the investment in SCBWI. I know I need to do it, but I'm not querying yet, so I put it off. I did join ACFW one year and got NOTHING out of it (except a lot of useless emails from other writers promoting themselves) so I've been hesitant ever since. Yes, I know associations are important and maybe I just tried to the wrong one...

Victoria Dixon said...

Sadly, I know you're right. Which is why I'm cringing and likely heading off to Dallas/Fort Worth later this year. I don't know how we'll afford it. In truth, it's hard for me to justify spending this much money on myself when our garage doors (both of them!) are trying to fall off and our basement remains unfinished for the 6th year. But my husband and I decided to invest in me years ago and I guess it would feel like giving up and admitting that was all a mistake if I don't continue to try. And I'm not a quitter. Not of reading. Not of chocolate and certainly not of writing. :)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I think spending money to go to conferences is well worth the investment. Not only are you learning about the craft, you are making connections. Writeoncon is amazing! I won an agent critique at it (on a wip)...and she said she would be interested in seeing my ms when it is completed...

Connecting with agents and editors not only helps improve your chances of getting read, but it also builds up your confidence.