Dear Writer, Credit or Cash?


I don't know about you guys but back when I was corporate, I lived by this principle. Especially when I was a struggling little writer in a huge ad agency's huge creative department. There would be other concept and copy churners in the team. And for me, that was competition. It was for everyone, too, I'm sure. So, whenever I would come up with a brilliant copy, an incredibly compelling line, I craved to be recognized for that. I needed everyone to know that I put that out and not some other little writer.

And then, when the advertising awards night roll in, I could almost taste the excitement blocking my throat like surging bile. My name would be called. And I would scamper like an overzealous hamster on stage to get that tin plaque which my wonderful agency would keep on my behalf.


Things change when I shifted to freelancing though. That included my favorite principle. You'll learn quickly that when you come up with award-winning content, you get a thank you in private. But please don't expect a fanfare. Ideas and words aren't as tangible as songs or designs. When you're contracted to write for pay -and you do get paid huge-- then that lovely nugget of genius is already sold. It's no longer yours.

Can you imagine your client going to his presentation and telling the Board of Directors, "By the way, I didn't do any of this. I just hired (insert your name here), the writer, to help me look good."?
Can you imagine a political candidate going up at the podium, saying, "Thank you, everyone! And thank you to the ghost writer, (insert your name here), for coming up with my ideas!"?
Can you imagine an ad agency scampering onstage at Awards Night to shoutout, "To that awesome freelance writer we got to do our job... (insert your name here), THIS IS FOR YOU!"?

Nope. Me neither.

When you're an independent writer, you can be mentioned sometimes but you can't be mentioned all the time. It depends on the nature of the job. And so credit isn't always given where credit is due.

But that's alright. Because by now, my priorities have changed, too. I still put my name out there --not for another trophy, but for more projects. Because that's what I do. Run my own business while building other people's business.
Besides I'm old enough to know that an auditorium of applauding people isn't what's important in life.
And that bills aren't paid with a tin plaque.


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