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When to write for free: Editor's Notes #359
February 23, 2022

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands—
one for helping yourself,
the other for helping others.”

—Audrey Hepburn

In this issue:

1. When to write for free
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt

1.When to write for free
Don’t let the title of this article lead you astray. My general advice to writers is to charge a fair market price for your work. But there are are times when I think it’s a good idea for a writer to write for free.

Many, if not most, writers write for free in the beginning to gain clips. Clips are samples of your writing that others have published. You use clips to show samples of your writing when you are pursuing paid writing jobs.

Write for free for platforms that reach audiences you want to influence. Letters to the editor, comments on others’ blogs, and newsletters like this one are examples of this type of writing.

Write and publish for family and friends. I do workshops about this, primarily with elders who want to leave a written record of important events and thoughts for their families. Although sometimes these become self-published books that go on to find other publishers because of their broader historical importance, the vast majority are simply a labor of love.

Offer your writing for free to support charities and non-profits you want to help. In some cases, you can legally claim a charitable donation deduction on your income tax for payment in kind. If you are looking for the tax deduction, find out ahead of time whether your jurisdiction accepts this concept, and be sure both you and the entity for whom you work agree on the terms. There is paperwork involved where taxes are concerned.

No matter what you write, write as if you are being paid. One day, you may very well find yourself with a writing income.

If you have another venue where you share your writing for free, let me know. I’ll pass it on.

2.Tickled my funny bone
My doctor gave me six months to live, but when I couldn't pay the bill he gave me six months more. —Walter Matthau

3. Interesting Web site
I have not done a deep dive on this Web site that connects people willing to write a letter with those who want to receive one, but it starts with a worthy idea. If you want to sign up with them, I suggest you check them out further. Alternatively, you could see if anyone in your local area could connect you with a person who would appreciate a personal letter from you.

4. Writing prompt
Here’s one from my writing workshop I mentioned above.

Write about your favourite toy as child.

When you are done, make copies to share with younger family members (children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, and any others you think of).

Join Writer's Helper Facebook page at
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