Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

The True Cost of Writing

I read a post yesterday from writingatmidnight here on WP titled The Cost of Writing. I found that it really hit home with me.  I, too, get email updates from various sites like The Writer, and Writer’s Digest and am always so excited about an online workshop or webinar until I scroll down to the price. 😦

I have a day job as you all know. I am not a starving artist living in a Paris garret and scrounging empty bottles to recycle for cash. But at the same time, I am not willing to drop a couple hundred dollars every month or two on a workshop. I wish I did have the time and expendable income to attend every one of them and just suck up all that writerly knowledge like a sponge, but alas, there is a mortgage, vet bills, and let’s face it, I do like regular meals.

So what is a writer to do? What is anyone to do who longs to pursue a passion without going bankrupt in the process?

I have always been a big believer in books. I honestly believe that no matter what you want to know or learn, it has been written about somewhere. The trick is to find the right book for your needs and not spend too much money in the process. Libraries are a great resource. You can access most card catalogs online and discover if they have what you are looking for without even having to get out of your pajamas. If you are like me though– it is all about Amazon! I may have personally kept that website fiscally sound since I discovered it years ago. 🙂 And the used books are a great cost saver!

Other writing costs…

A computer is great for writing and at some point in the path to publication (especially if you are self publishing) it becomes mandatory. If you write longhand, pen and paper are relatively cheap, but then you have to either pay someone to type it for you or find an agent/publisher who is willing to take a chance on reading your 1000 page novel handwritten in 85 notebooks.  With all the odds stacked against a new writer, I would think that would be a strike against you before your masterpiece even finds its way out of the slush pile.

As far as classes and workshops go, you can find some freebies online, and writingatmidnight included several links in the post highlighted above. There is also Writer’s Village University. For a 1st year membership of $99 and an annual renewal of $69, you can take as many classes as you want! I was a WVU member for a couple years and enjoyed every class I signed up for there. Most of them are self-monitored by the class, meaning you do the posted assignments and discuss them, critique each others work, and so on, but there is no teacher. Others are moderated and led by a teacher. There are hundreds of classes to choose from and while it isn’t free, it is a great value.

Or you could go the free route and read a lot. Books, blogs, writing forums– all free on the internet! I have learned so much over the last nine months from fellow bloggers, and writers’ groups such as SheWrites, WANA and Writer Unboxed. There are writerly groups on Facebook to follow and participate in as well as writers, publishers, agents, and readers on Twitter.

Last year, I came across the concept of a “writer’s tribe” from Kristen Lamb, and at first I thought that it didn’t apply to me. I didn’t belong to a writer’s group; I didn’t have anyone to really talk to about my writing concerns other than my husband and a few close friends and family. I didn’t know anyone else who was trying to write a novel, or five!

Now I realize that my tribe is so much bigger than I first imagined. It stretches across oceans and reaches around the entire globe. The writer tribe is large and welcoming. It includes every writer and blogger I have come across. From learning craft to tips on submissions to formatting books to self publish – whatever help you are looking for, or if you just need a little pep talk, this tribe is there for you.


  1. I totally love Amazon, too. I get most of my writing supplies and books there. Good post, good recommendations, and thanks for the link back!

    • Cheryl Fassett

      Glad to see I am not the only Amazon-aholic!!:)

  2. Well…I have something that will not break the bank. And…you get one on one attention from an editor in an editing book club. It’s aways good to have a new set of eyes and for less than $15 per day you can have that. Just in case you’re interested…here’s the link to apply for more info. If you go to our blog you can read about the editors AND what writers are saying about the program. : )

    • Sorry about that! I didn’t realize your comment had been tossed into the Spam file. 🙂 I will have to check out your site.

  3. Oooh, thank you for this post. I’m going to check out the Writer’s Village University.

    • Cheryl Fassett

      It’s a great site, Elizabeth! In addition to the classes there are all sorts of groups you can join to meet other writers.

  4. One blog I’d like to plug is called Today’s Author. It offers writing prompts and encouraging posts from published writers in a variety of genres. It can be found at –

  5. Very helpful post – I’m checking out WVU too!

  6. Yes, I definitely consider my little blogging community my ‘tribe’. I have found a great beta reader among those bloggers, as well as support and encouragement. Sometimes I think it would be fun to build an actual writing group online, because it would be free, but then I think about how much time I have and I give up on the idea.

    I follow some of those groups you mention. Another one I follow is Publishing Crawl which offers author interviews and giveaways, etc. That’s a fun one to stay updated through.

  7. Kiersi

    So true! Learning is expensive–or it was, before the internet! I’m always shocked when I open those WD emails and see what they charge for information I could get from reading a dozen agent blogs for free.

    There is something to be said, though, for an intensive, in-person session. I learn a lot from lectures so I have paid to attend a number of those–but usually not nearly as much as WD charges. I got a full day, two-on-one intensive seminar for $100 once. It was so worth it!

    Great list of resources here, Cheryl. I’ve not seen WANA before so I’ll check it out. And boy, I have also learned a lot from being a part of a writer’s group. Many of them already own lots of good “how to” books that I have borrowed 🙂

    • An intensive very small class like that would definitely be worth the cost of admission! but a $350 webinar? No thanks! 🙂

  8. Yeah I always cringe when I get to the price part. I think, ‘oh, well, never mind on that one’!…. again. I go the same route as you: I read books.

    • Books and blogs! So much excellent info available for free out here on the web! Of course, since I am a book-aholic, I have to keep buying books… 🙂

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