by Bobbie Christmas
Money and Time
In the last issue I explained why I devoted an entire chapter to my “Bill of Writes” for writers in my book on creative writing titled Write In Style: How to Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing. Some writers feel less deserving as writers, especially if they have not yet sold any of their works. Regardless of whether we’re starting out or have years of accomplishments under our belt, we writers have inalienable rights. For that reason, special to SPAWN, I have agreed to explain each item in my “Bill of Writes” through a series of articles. Below is number two in my “Bill of Writes.” Watch for the remaining items in future newsletters.
Number Two: You Have the Right to Spend the Money and Time Necessary to Improve Your Craft
You have the right to improve your craft, and improvement requires time and money. Whenever you ponder whether you should buy a book, take a course, join an organization, subscribe to a magazine, attend a conference, or pay for an edit and evaluation of your work, do it. If you have an interest in writing, you have the right to pursue it.
You may find that many expenses are tax deductible, if you plan to sell your writing. As I understand the tax laws, you do not have to make money at writing to take the deduction, but I am not an accountant, so please check with the person who prepares your taxes and enjoy the surprise when you find out you can do many things you never thought possible and deduct all or part of the cost. For example, I used frequent-flyer miles to get to Ireland in 2002, and once there, I took an eighteen-day tour with my sister and her husband and about a dozen other people. We had a blast. I came home and sold one article based on the trip and wrote three other free articles that were published in various newsletters. My accountant allowed me to deduct almost half the cost of the trip. When you add back in what I was paid for the one consumer-magazine article, my trip cost me about a quarter of the actual cost.
Reference books for writers can be expensive, but they too are vital to us if we want to improve our craft. You may find ways to cut your expenses, but you still have the right to spend the money necessary to help you move forward as a writer. If you write books, you will want a copy of the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, for example, but it isn’t cheap. Perhaps you can simply subscribe to it online for a few months and learn most of what you will need to know before you stop your subscription, or perhaps you can buy a used copy of the book. If you buy the book from Amazon, they usually offer to buy back your old copy for a few dollars when a new edition is released every few years.
Watch for the next installation of this series to learn about number three in Bobbie’s “Bill of Writes.”
Bobbie Christmas is a book doctor with twenty-five years of experience and is the author of Write In Style: How to Use Your Computer to Improve Your Craft, winner of seven awards. Her website is www.zebraeditor.com.