Writer Beware: Save Yourself from Exploitation by Remembering your “Why?”
Updated: Oct 31, 2021
What made you want to be a writer? Was it the idea of fame and fortune? Did you feel you had a unique story to tell? Were you curious and loved to share newly found knowledge? Or were you someone like me who wanted to help other people struggling with addiction and mental illness?
Whatever the case may be, the commonality of it all, I’m sure, is the desire to be published, right? Not only am I well aware of that fact, so are the many online publishers, willing to heed our beckoned calls for recognition and man, are they ready to capitalize on it!
Taking steps to begin my venture into freelance writing, I knew the first thing I needed to do was find a site upon which to publish my tales of the previous life I led. No longer ashamed and willing to open my heart, I began searching for my perfect match.
I’d always been a writer yet publishing openly, with my name in the byline, was a whole new adventure. I was naïve. Determined to be successful, I was willing to risk it all. I was an ideal candidate for certain publishing companies, as I came with loads of emotional baggage and was ready to share it with whoever was willing to read my words.
I now realize, just as MLM schemes prey upon certain personality types, to the publisher, I was nothing more than another potential buy-in that would funnel dollars to those sitting at the top of the pyramid!
Sadly companies such as this exist everywhere! They offer you free instant publishing, encourage you to sign-up and share away! I looked around for the best fit and ultimately went with the one whose mission spoke to me.
I thought there was something extremely noble about putting my heart out there, publicly sharing my most intimate feelings and experiences, and don’t get me wrong, there is. I believed in the idea of writing to be of benefit as that was always my intention. My goal was and continues to be to connect with people who need inspiration, motivation, and support.
In May of this year, I felt I had found my home and community of like-minded individuals. I was in love with the ideas of their foundation, and the leader was my guru, grooming me to be of benefit to the world. I wanted to please him. I wanted to do well.
My first article was quickly published and promoted to their magazine! Wahoo! I received a congratulatory email with concise directions to get my work out there. I read every recommendation as to how I could make an impact. I couldn’t wait to begin sharing my piece and took action immediately!
I urged my friends and family members to sign up for the site’s newsletter. I shared on FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Links to my pieces went out via texts and emails.
I encouraged people to purchase a membership so they could read my works without the advertisements inserted between paragraphs.
I longed for feedback. I prayed readers would show my pieces love and boost them monetarily (another mind-blowing way for the publisher to make money!) to raise my score in the weekly contests.
Oh, how I wanted that prize to validate me, to make that little girl that still resides in me feel good enough! I needed the reassurance that my writing was worthy. Somehow this convoluted thinking reinforced my self-worth. To find a spot on the coveted top writer’s list taunted me day and night. Validation, to me, was only attained as a recipient of that monetary reward for having the highest readership! How ironic, considering the site’s mantra was not to be competitive but to support other writers!
I worked tirelessly to “promote” my articles. I responded nightly to hundreds of “Writer’s Lifts” on Twitter to get my pieces out there. I worked my *ss off to succeed, and over those four months, I did. I was awarded multiple monetary prizes and grew my readership on the site.
For some reason, though, with all my successes, my heart still longed for more. I spent my entire life trying to please my father with my accomplishments. Despite my recent success, I was still missing something, something I desperately needed to figure out. . , and realized my father figure was now in the form of a publishing company.
As I reflected, I realized the publication of my first article only exacerbated my need for accolades and acceptance from my deceased father. The dominant figure that once shaped my life had morphed into a publisher, and I had no idea how to satisfy either of them.
I should have questioned my motives long ago. Instead, I focused on the notoriety I desired, and the symbolic badge of honor received when you say you’ve been published and paid. I chased it like I chased a good buzz less than eight months ago.
I began to have flashbacks of grade school magazine sales with grand prizes of televisions or trips, but always falling very short of the award, despite working hard to achieve the goal!
I began to resent the amount of time I spent trying to promote my articles. My anxiety started to grow, and my inner child began to worry that I was annoying those I loved with the continual begging to read my pieces. And for what benefit? Who was reaping the benefits? Surely not me! And certainly not my newfound company! Every article I shared had been tagged with the publisher’s name, not mine.
Every post I shared in which I asked people to click yet another link began to morally disturb me. My link would lead them to another site with pop-ups trying to persuade them to sign up for a newsletter or buy a subscription, all to the owner’s benefit! Fully supporting ME, my loved ones would click, but regardless of their efforts, the publisher’s rules prohibited them from “hearting” or commenting unless they signed up. And guess what? To financially succeed, that’s what I would have needed. I was unknowingly involved in the perfect pyramid scheme disguised as a writer’s dream opportunity! Go figure!
Finally, one night, I had an awakening. I had exerted so much time and effort to get people to my article, yet, I was not growing my personal business or moving toward my real goals. I wanted to not only be a writer but a speaker as well. I wanted to raise mental health awareness and work with individuals that needed resources.
No one even knew what I was trying to do because the focus was solely on gaining popularity on the publisher’s site, hence getting people there for the owner. My site, the one I invested time and money into, was being neglected because I was out of touch with the most important thing - ME!
Although I must admit that the site owner is a genius, I refuse to continue to promote his agenda at the expense of my own. And with that, it was settled. I will no longer write for anyone for free but myself now.
My heart, my time, and my words are invaluable. I am WORTHY. The only validation I need is my own and if I only have fifteen people read one of my articles, it’s okay as long as it helps just one person.
Who gives a f*ck if I get paid for it? I never began to write for payment. I wrote for my heart. I wrote for my mental well-being. I wrote for myself, and now I also write for others.
But I am not going to write it for someone who's exploiting my emotions and my gut-wrenching trauma for their own benefit. I refuse to whore out my innermost feelings and fears for free, only to bring more traffic to someone else’s website, ultimately putting money in their pocket, as if they were my pimp. No way!
I understand publishing is a business, I do. And in my heart I know this was a necessary part of my journey. With each life event, we learn something new. I’m appreciative of the opportunity I have had with this publisher over the last four months, for it allowed me to see that there was still work to be done within myself. This part of my journey showed me that I easily lose sight of my worth when I am trying to please everyone around me to feel accomplished and fulfilled.
Starting today, my energy will be used to bring awareness to and direct people toward my true mission, which is to share my story and truly benefit others with no strings attached. My needs will now be my focus.
Quite honestly valuing yourself is a must for anyone, whether you are a writer, a publisher, a nurse, a mechanic, or a gas attendant. We all have purpose and importance on this planet. Don’t ever let the desire for success make you forget that!!! Your worth should never be traded for half-hearted promises!
Finally, to the new writers out there, ready to give away the rights to their most heartfelt words, for the promise of publication, editing, and monetary rewards, ask yourself how much you are worth? How much time are you willing to spend to get your words read, only to have someone else own them?
Before you give in to the prospect of fame and fortune, sit quietly and remember your original “WHY?” Reflecting on that word has the power to change your direction and allow you to entirely chase YOUR dreams!