I have recently found myself making the informal transition from work-for-hire writer to free-agent author. The difference is that rather than receiving an assignment and writing to that assignment and getting paid a predetermined fee for it, I now create my work and then try to sell it.

Both forms of writing have advantages and disadvantage. A work-for-hire writer has a guaranteed paycheck, for example. Knowing that you are getting paid for your efforts makes it much easier to have the discipline to get the assignment done. The assignment generally also has the discipline incentive of a deadline. The downside, however, is that this form of writing usually greatly limits creativity. Much like a homework assignment in school, freelancing as a work-for-hire writer was simply a means to an end for me.

The free-agent author, however, is free to write whatever he or she so chooses. The possibilities are limited only by the imagination. The problem with this is that no paycheck is guaranteed.

Much like the students in an English class that have Shakespeare crammed down their throats, I find that I do not do well with the forced feedings of assigned writing. I will inevitably try to cut corners. I will not put as much time, effort, or creativity into the story. I much prefer to write for myself and then try to find a home for my piece. Obviously, some of my stuff may never find a home outside of my hard drive, but to me, I would rather create with passion and creativity and place some of my works than write with passive necessity and be read by more people.

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I enjoy the blank canvass of an empty .doc file. I look forward to feeling my fingers tap, tap, tap across the keys. I enjoy plotting characters and setting to my own liking. To me, there is power in the choices that go into writing a story.

And I like that power.

I have noticed the same to be true in most other aspects of life as well. People like the choice of a varied menu at a restaurant. They want the option of a vegetarian and a low carb meal although they may elect to eat the deep-fried cheesecake instead. We like to have a variety of salons, drinks, lunch meats, clothing labels, carpets, and house layouts. Kids like choices for their dinner plates, their school notebooks, their pencils, and the design on their shirt.

There is power in the option to choose, and I really, really like that power. I like that freedom to start a sentence and not have a defined endpoint in mind. There is no hidden agenda or product to sell. I like to let my characters grow and breathe on their own rather than trying to fit them into a cookie cutter assignment.

I think I was created for creative expression, and the boxes of assignments just squash that burning in my soul.