Are writers professionals?

By Katharine Swan On Monday, March 26, 2007 At 9:26 PM

While I was on vacation, I received a comment on my post "Attention beginning writers: Don't write for free!" I'm not publishing it because not only is the person kind of nasty, she also uses the comment to plug her own blog. It pretty much says, "You're a b!tch and wrong. Hey everyone, come see my site!"

Anyway, the comment is in response to my statement comparing non-paying writing gigs to refusing to pay your doctor or lawyer. The comment starts out by saying:

First of all, if/when it happens, it's called pro-bono (short for pro bono publico) work. Beginning lawyers often do it to prove their competence when starting out, and doctors generally do it out of altruism.

I have no problem with pro bono work. If you writers out there want to dedicate your time to a cause you feel strongly about, I think that's wonderful. However, I hardly see it as "pro bono" to write for free for some sleazy website no one has ever heard of, just because the owner of said website has figured out he can get free content by taking advantage of beginners.

Next the comment says:

Second of all, how dare you compare "writers" to doctors and lawyers. My uncle works in the ER and To even insinuate that a "writer" is even remotely as important as a doctor is not only disgusting and laughable, it is the epitome of arrogance and you should be ashamed of yourself.

No, I'm not ashamed of myself. Far from it: I'm proud. If people make comments like this, it's clear that blogs such as mine -- blogs that make the point that writers are professionals and should be treated as such -- are needed. Anyone who thinks that the idea of a writer being treated with the same respect as a doctor is "laughable" should be ashamed of themselves. Who the he!l do you think writes the textbooks doctors study to learn their trade? If it weren't for the writers, there wouldn't be medical textbooks, doctors wouldn't be educated, and fewer lives would be saved.

Now that I've had my say, I'm interested in what my readers have to say. I know there are many outspoken writers who read my blog regularly, and I'd be interested to see what others think about Ms. Down With Writers. If you'd like to comment, please click on the title of this post, scroll down to the bottom of the individual post page, and click on "Leave a Reply."

Rude comments will remain unpublished, of course, so please be civil. If you don't have a Blogger/Google account, you can email me with your comment, and I'll post it for you.


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Blogger Irreverent Freelancer Says:  

Well, here's one of your outspoken readers weighing 100% agreement with you. I'm assuming this person is someone who calls herself a "writer." Seeing as how she has no pride in her profession, I can only guess that she possesses no skill whatsoever and has deemed herself a writer for lack of anything better to do with her life. Here again is a clear example of why I support certification for writers and editors. She's an idiot, plain and simple. I dare say that there are many writers who possess as much education as doctors do. And as an educational writer, I wholeheartedly support your argument about writers being the ones who help educate these doctors she's so impressed with. She can call herself an unworthy amateur and I'll call myself a worthy professional. I have the the well-paying clientele to deserve that title. I'd bet money that she'll never have the same.

Blogger Katharine Swan Says:  

Thanks for the comment, Kathy! I agree with you -- her arguments against writer respectability most likely reflect her own lack of professionalism.


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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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