An Empty Wallet Is No Excuse

Empty Wallet

Passion soared when I read this Facebook comment:

Being a writer is my dream. But I can’t afford to take writing classes.

I was not the only one to reply. The following list includes points made in other responses along with additional thoughts of my own:

  • Anyone who makes words visible on screen or paper is a writer. You do not need to be published.
  • Your local library is full of books about how to write.
  • The web is full of blogs, tutorials, newsletters, free webinars, and other resources to sharpen writing skills.
  • Whether you can afford to take classes or not, find a local writing group. I summarize their benefits in this post.
  • Do a web search to look for a group, and also ask at your library. All the dozen-plus successful memoir/lifestory writing groups I’ve been involved with have been library sponsored.
  • Keep an eye open for free or nearly so classes. Senior centers and community colleges are likely locales.
  • Online writing groups may be as good or better than local ones.
  • Check sites like the ones on this list for free on-line writing classes targeted to specific skill topics.
  • Search for “free online memoir writing courses” to find free classes and groups. Caveat: free classes are often a come-on for pricey follow-up classes and/or coaching services. Take advantage of what you can get and keep expectations low.

So, you see, you can learn to write well with an empty wallet. Don’t put it off. Start now. Eventually you can even publish for absolutely free via CreateSpace and Kindle, though you’re likely to attract more readers with a small investment in a good cover and some editing beyond what your writing group and beta readers can give you. Your own efforts are perfectly acceptable for limited family and friends’ distribution.

Beyond any thoughts of publication, WRITING IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH. I’ve written extensively about that, especially in my archived blog, Writing for the Health of It.

Now you know an empty wallet is no excuse. What else might be holding you back from following your dream of becoming a writer?

Image by Damon D’Amato,, used by permission via Creative Commons license.


Marian Beaman said...

I get this, Sharon!

Just recently I "cashed in" on a friendship with a former colleague. She co-edited a fabulous book which I read and reviewed, resulting in a spike in her sales. Then she offered to do a close reading of my 198-page memoir manuscript. No currency changed hands but each has felt a boost in our writing careers.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Thanks for the perfect example of my point Marian. Bartering is as old as the hills, as were things like barn raisings, quilting bees, borrowing cups of sugar, and just generally helping each other out as needed. How sad that today everyone is "so busy" and reluctant to "impose" on friends and neighbors and everyone feels like they have to pay for services, whether that's planting a big tree or helping a friend with editing.

I'm beginning to ASK for help again. But then I'm older than dirt and "entitled" to ask for help, LOL!

Susan G. Weidener said...

It's true what you say, Sharon. Where there's a will, there's a way. I'm offering a free class in memoir writing at the local library over the holidays. As a writer, I find it's a joy to share the craft with others. I do find it discouraging, however, that sometimes people balk at paying for writing classes, a professional editor and purchasing books when they might think nothing of spending $100 on a dinner out.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Bravo for offering that class Susan. I hope it can transition to a ongoing group!

You make a valid point about those who CAN afford to pay, but who's to judge priorities? And today those who barely scrape by far outnumber the affluent.

M. K. Waller said...

Good ideas. When I was starting out, several of my instructors advised students to subscribe to Poets and Writers magazine. I did, but at the end of the year dropped my subscription. The content was interesting, but at that point I needed something focused less on literature and more on craft, and I could have found those at the library.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Thanks for the thumbnail review of Poets and Writers. I've heard of it, but never seen a copy. I'll bet that's at the library too, if anyone wants to look. Today libraries have both print and ebook versions of most significant writing books, and . . . (drum roll here) . . . if you download the Kindle version of an eBook and highlight as you read, you can fiddle around on the dashboard of your Amazon account and download all your highlights before your loan expires. Or, you can copy significant material and paste into a document.

But if it's an awesome book and your budget allow, it's worth building your own reference library with several well-chosen volumes.