The Value of Writing

I received an e-mail yesterday encouraging me to check out Chandler Bolt’s free video training, “Book Idea to Bestseller in 2.5 Months.” It’s rather difficult to walk away from a title like that without being at least a little curious. So I signed up and watched the first video.

I stopped watching after the first five minutes.

Bolt’s philosophy essentially preaches the notion that writing a bestselling book is easy, and that anyone can do it. Granted, he was referring to short, nonfiction e-books, but I still take issue with this philosophy. Writing a book is not as simple as working at a fast food counter. There is a process and a complex art to it that can’t be done in such a short time. And it takes a great deal of practice to be able to command prose in a compelling way. It actually made me angry to hear him downplay the act of writing.

Of course, it got worse when he made a point of saying “best-selling doesn’t necessarily mean best-written.”

Now, maybe he’s right. I’m sure some of the genre-shaming professors I’ve met would love to comment at length about how today’s bestsellers are pedestrian at best, or something like that. But that shouldn’t be the case. And I feel that it’s totally wrong to advertise that with no skills at all, you can make money doing something that requires a lot of skill.

This experience made me reconsider how I value writing. When I was training to be a writing tutor, I was often asked what I thought to be “good writing.” It was never questioned that, whatever we deemed to be the desired quality, there was a high value placed on this. I’ve always been told that editors desire this kind of quality as well. So it hurts me to see good writers devalued in this way.

Needless to say, I will not be using Bolt’s method. As Moira Allen mentions in “Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer,” sometimes personal values can outweigh money when it comes to priorities in choosing the work you do. I know in my own professional life, I hesitate to sacrifice sanity for money. It’s not worth it to sell yourself short, so I won’t.

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