Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Writing is like sitting (with your feet up) on a big leather couch

Originally posted on Donnie Darko Girl.

I am a writer. Although it started out as a casual thing, I became so obsessed with creating stories that I turned my fun hobby into a career, quitting my day job as an operational risk manager to pursue my lifelong dream of being a real author. With the creation of ebooks, anyone who writes can also easily be published, something that allowed me to find success in an industry that would’ve otherwise been almost impossible to break into. Many others are doing the same thing, writing and publishing in the hopes of one day doing it fulltime—and many others have already realized that dream, as I have.
But is it fun? Is it therapeutic? Or is it no different than the tedious nine to five job that I used to have? Does the reality fall short of the dream? These are all very important questions that writers need to ask themselves. More and more I’m getting messages from published authors saying that they’re not enjoying writing anymore. Their sales of previously published works are lackluster, they’ve received a few bad reviews, they have writer’s block, there’s too much pressure to write a good sequel...etc, etc. I get it, I really do. I’ve been there. Occasionally, I still am there. Sometimes I dread the following day’s five-hour writing session. Sometimes I feel like crap after said writing session because I feel as if my writing wasn’t as good as it should’ve been. Sometimes I don’t feel inspired. So should I stop?

NO! This is the right answer for me, but it might not be the right answer for everyone. Whether to write or not to write is a very personal decision, but for me, I actually love it at least 90% of the time, and feel as if it’s free therapy. Yes, you heard right, writing is like sitting (with your feet up) on a big leather couch. Why? Because my words are naked, floating through my mind unprotected, without judgment, without fear—they’re hope and they’re beautiful, despite being rough, imperfect things. I get to express myself in whatever way I choose just as I’d be able to if I went to a therapist. My innermost thoughts and fears and dreams and hopes and desires can be stroked from the paint brush of my soul onto the canvas of my laptop. And then I get to choose which ones to keep and which ones to delete, which ones are worthy of other’s eyes, and which ones are just for me. That’s a beautiful thing, a daily sojourn that’s as therapeutic as it is satisfying. In other words, I get more out of my writing than my readers do. That’s the big secret that authors don’t always tell you. That although they love entertaining their readers and a lot of what they do is for their fans, part of why they write is selfish.
So although I need to pay attention to book sales, and reviews, and deal with the pressures and frustrations that come with writing as a career, I don’t let those things affect my LOVE OF WRITING. In the end, that’s what matters both for myself AND for my readers, because it makes me a better writer. When someone loves what they write, it bleeds through to the pages of their books, and sends their readers’ hearts racing.

To those who are struggling with whether to continue writing, I urge you to go back to what got you started in the first place. Write something just for you, and see if you enjoy it more. If so, then you MUST keep writing, even if only for yourself. Me, I’ll keep writing till the end of my days, partly because I can’t imagine a world where I don’t write, and partly because I want nothing more than to make my readers feel myriad emotions every time they turn the pages of my books, just as I do when I read awesome books by my favorite authors.

4 comments:

  1. Really great post! And I don't think its really that selfish to do what you love. It makes you happier, and in turn, an all around better person. When you are happier, it makes others around you happier, kind of like a ripple effect.

    And can I just say that I, for one, am thrilled you are still writing :)

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    1. Thank you, Jenny!! I completely agree, well said :)

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  2. What a great post! I think it is awesome that you are pursuing your dreams and doing what you love. I love writing too! For now I work a day job and write at night and on weekends. I hope to one day be able to arrange things so that I have more time to write, but for now the day job helps to pay the bills.

    Keep doing what you love! I hope 2015 is a wonderful year for you!
    ~Jess

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    1. Thanks so much for your feedback, I really appreciate it! I know exactly the point you're at, that's where I was about four years ago. I started writing on my lunch break (1 hour) and on my ferry ride to and from work (half hour each way), so I got a solid two hours of writing in each and every day. On the weekends I would do at least two hours per day, sometimes more. I wrote seven days a week, which allowed me to write my first trilogy in about three months. From there I just kept writing and publishing/marketing in between projects until my books finally started to sell well enough for my wife and I to quit our day jobs (after I published The Moon Dwellers). Although we're not wealthy, and things are tight from month to month, I love what I do now, which makes all the difference in the world. We're happy :)

      Thanks again and Happy 2015 to you too!!

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