Is It Cheating To Pay For Writing Help?

By on August 21, 2016
Is It Cheating To Pay For Writing Help? - Writer's Life.org

Writers are both proud and nervous creatures. We are fiercely protective of our writing, yet terrified of sharing it with anyone. Our every dream is tangled up with the idea of praise and success for our work, yet the notion of asking for help seems somehow dishonourable and deceitful.

However, many many successful writers have paid or are paying for help with their writing.

This takes place in many different ways.

I once met an editor who told me that many celebrated books have been worked on by whole teams of people to make them so successful. In short, while of course, you need talent and creativity to write a book, if this is recognised by the publishing industry, your work will be preened and polished to within an inch of its life before it is actually shown to the critical public eye.

So what kind of help is out there, and is it cheating to pay for it?

A writing course

Putting yourself on a writing course is an excellent way to learn about different writing techniques, to explore your writing talent and to meet like-minded people.

Paying to go on a writing course isn’t cheating.

Writing is a skill, one that can be taught and learnt. Just because someone is teaching you about different writing techniques, setting you homework, and encouraging you to explore different ways of writing doesn’t mean you’re less naturally talented than a person who wakes up in the middle of the night and writes a book in two days straight.

Writing is all about practising, researching and honing your craft. A writing course can be incredibly helpful to get you started.

A personal coach

You can pay for a personal writing coach to act as a guide, give you 1:1 advice and mentor you through the writing process. While you get all the personal attention you need, hiring a writing coach can be pricey. However, they are useful if you need someone to help you out with a particular problem or part of your book that you are struggling with.

A proofreader/ editor

If you want to present your work to publishers in a flawless condition, or you are going down the self-publishing route, then a professional proofreader and editor will help make your book the best it can be. They will weed out any mistakes and inconsistencies as well as give useful advice on where the plot needs tightening or you need to rework your writing.

A book cover designer

A professional book cover is hugely important if you are planning to self-publish your book. If you want your book to look slick and professional, paying money to have a designer do this will make all the difference.

Of course, there are cheap alternatives to many of these.

Online writing communities are great for bouncing ideas off fellow writers, and there are sites where you can have your work reviewed by your peers for free if you do the same.

If you have solid design skills, you may be able to design your own cover. There are also a wealth of free resources online, and a great many books on writing where (providing you have the self-discipline) you can teach yourself a great deal.

What is important to remember is that none of the above should be considered cheating. If you pay to have someone do all the work for you and then pass it off as your own, if you plagiarise and slyly steal ideas, that is a different matter!

As writers, we can become slightly despairing as we devour book after book, thinking ‘I’ll never be able to write like this.’ However, just try to remember that what you hold in your hands will have had a whole team of people working on it to make it the flawless wonder that it is today!

Perhaps we can take some comfort in that. So, if you’ve got the resources, the contacts or just enough in the bank to pay for writing help then go for it. Olympic athletes don’t win gold medals on their own, sparkling pop stars don’t roll out of bed looking a million dollars, and people with frighteningly clean houses probably have cleaners.

In short, if help is out there for the taking, just take it.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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