"There's no point in spending your life in the pursuit of something that's easy." - Alice Kuipers

Monday, January 28, 2013

Budgets and Dreams

Becoming a writer is hard work, but it can also be pretty expensive. I know what you're thinking, "pen, paper, done. What more do you need?" But anyone who's tried seriously pursuing a career in writing can tell you it cost them more than a few late fees on their library card. Allow me to explain.

MFA in Writing
The natural course for a lot of writers is to pursue their Masters of Fine Arts in Writing. Unfortunately, unless you're already a successful writer (and don't really need it) you won't be able to get in without a bachelor's degree. Paying for the MFA courses can be expensive enough, but they also want you to devote four years of your time and money into getting what I affectionately refer to as a 'garbage degree' first. Sorry, I have a full time job, a house and a husband. I can't afford the expense to my wallet or my time.

Workshops and Conferences
Workshops and conferences are a great way to take in classes, market your manuscript and make connections with the writing and publishing community. However, you're probably going to have to travel for most of them, meaning that besides the cost of the conference or workshop, you'll also have travel fees as well as be taking time off work. It's a worthwhile investment if you can afford it, but it can be pretty costly.

Classes, especially online classes, can be pretty expensive. An eight week course with mediabistro is generally around $550. A one day webinar with Writer's Digest is generally about $90. That might not sound like a lot, but it's literally a single class. One. That's all you get. For a writer on a budget, it forces them to ask themselves some pretty tough questions. Such as, "do I really need to eat this week?"

Books and Magazines
There are a lot of really fabulous books and magazines on writing out there that can offer a lot of guidance, and although the expense is often a small one (especially if you have a well stocked library), it can still add up. A couple of subscriptions and a Writer's Market and my entertainment budget is blown for the month.

Is It Worth It?
I'm not trying to say that any of the above aren't worth it. Nor am I trying to say that you shouldn't think about a career in writing. What I'm trying to do is prepare you (and your wallet) for the reality of professional development. I'm not saying you have to give any of the above options a try either, there are a lot of free options that you can turn to. Look into your local Writer in Residence and public library. They often have free programs to help emerging writers find their voice. Maybe you could start a critique group with other writers where you give each other feedback. Just remember that all dreams come with a cost, whether it be to our time, our fortitude, our wallets or all of the above. Ask yourself what you are able (and willing) to give. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. This can be seen as "the ugly truth" about pursuing a more professional writing career.