My first paid writing gig was for my very own paper mill. It made me the writer I am today.

It may not come as a surprise to you that for a fee, high school and college students can employ writers at a paper mill to ghostwrite essays and term papers for them.

A recent addition to the paper mill industry is, which offers a twist on the typical paper mill.


Rebecca Schuman of Slate writes: is a paper mill based out of Montreal—but it’s not just any paper mill. If you’re going to pay $200 for someone else to write your essay for that professor who insists essay-writing is the most important part of college, then at least have that essay be written by another professor who also believes that essay-writing is the most important part of college.

I’m not sure how often paper mills are used by high school and college students today, but when I was in high school, the Internet did not exist, and by the time I got to college, the Internet was still shiny and new. Search engines like Lycos and AltaVista still dominated the landscape of cyberspace, and most people wouldn’t have dreamed of entering their credit card number on a webpage. Hiring a writer to complete my assignments in high school and college would have been difficult, if not impossible.

Finding a professor to write my papers? Forget it.

Besides, I was always willing and able to write my own papers. And it wasn’t like I had money lying around to pay other people to do my work.

As a teacher and a writer today, I am opposed to paper mills.

Write your own papers, damn it.

I haven’t always felt this way.

Back in 1986, my first paid writing job was writing papers for fellow students while I was in high school.

As a high school student, I opened my own paper mill.

In the spring of my sophomore year, I began offering my writing services to my classmates. I charged $50-$100 depending on length of the paper and topic (topics that interested me were discounted). Most of my customers were male upperclassmen, but I also did work for students in my own grade and even even a few freshmen.

Until I went to work for McDonald’s in the summer of my junior year, business was booming.

I had no access to a typewriter at the time, so papers were handwritten and required typing by my clients. Had I been able to type the papers as well, I suspect that I would’ve made a lot more money.

Still, I earned enough money to buy my first car, a 1976 Chevy Malibu. I also bought by first pair of Levis jeans, my first stereo, and tickets to my first concert: Poison and Tesla at the Worcester Centrum.


Want to turn a teenage boy into a writer?

Find a way for him to earn enough money from his writing to buy his first car and attend his first rock concert.

I already loved to write by the time I launched my paper mill, but the idea that people would pay me for stuff that I made up in my head was incredible. It cemented the desire to become a novelist someday.

I was hooked.