“People who don’t write think that writing is just the physical act,” says author Edward P. Jones, “but first come all the steps of thinking it out before.”
It’s hard to convince non-writers of this truth—and still harder to account for when you’re putting together an estimate for a client.
Something I learned early on in this business is that you don’t simply charge for the time you spend at the keyboard; you charge for your experience, your know-how, your insights. In other words, you charge for all the unique ways in which you approach—and ultimately solve—a particular creative problem.
Think about the way your mechanic makes a living: Parts plus labor equals an invoice. Pretty simple and straightforward, right? The problem is, my labor includes an awful lot of internal, off-the-clock mental noodling—whether I’m actually conscious of it or not. Yet I can’t exactly bill for the time an idea popped into my head when I was mowing the lawn, or when the perfect ending to a 30-second TV spot revealed itself to me when I was on a hike.
It’s just part of that nebulous, ill-defined thing we call the “writing” process, I reckon.