The last two years I have delved into the world of writers on the web. There are a lot of us out there, from bloggers (of which I hope to become one), to novelists (of which I am one, though currently unpublished), to researchers, to poets. Every one of us saw the open seas of the interwebs and said, ‘You know, I think I have something to say!’. So we picked up our pens (or pencils, or keyboards, or quills) and we set to work to destroy that horrific white page of nothingness.
Now, the problem with writing is that, well, it’s hard. Writer’s block is a real thing, on top of the fact that most of us only do it as a hobby. Time is against us; families need keeping, food needs cooking, clothes need washing. So when we finally sit down to write, we feel like we have no time to waste. We have important things to tell the world! Intriguing, twisted, and complex stories to tell. So we stare at the Blank Page. And we stare. Then we stare some more.
We’re tired, we’re uninspired, we’re blocked. We’re terrified that what we write won’t be good enough. We haven’t learned enough, aren’t good enough. So we read books on writing, we complain about writer’s block on forums, we chat with other writers on Facebook. We do everything we can do, except actually WRITE.
There are a million gifs, memes, and posts on the difficulties of creative pursuits. People constantly reminding the world that writing is WORK, that it is HARD, and that it comes at a cost. Writing makes us depressed. Writing burns us out. Writing is a burden.
But WHY? Why are we as writers so determined to undercut ourselves? Don’t get me wrong, writing a novel is hard! Of course it is! There are times where you will want to give up the whole, ridiculous endeavor. I certainly had a few of those moments working on the first draft of ‘Tyrant’.
I think, though, that people come at writing the wrong way, nowadays. Everything I read is always about ‘accessibility’, ‘marketability’, and ‘main streaming’. It’s all about giving the audience what they want — or at least what that last book on digital marketing we read tells us they want. We all focus so hard on what will sell that we forget what writing is all about.
We write to share our inner worlds with the outer world. And dammit, whos inner world is really THAT serious, ALL the time?
So, for all my fellow writers out there, here is my proposal; WRITE WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE! Stop worrying so much about whether or not your are hitting your ‘target audience’. Don’t stress about marketability. Don’t panic about what a publisher might say about it.
Does your story make you smile when you think about writing it(yes, evil, maniacal smiles count. We all love to torture our characters)? Because chances are, if it makes you smile, it will make other smile too.
Shut off Facebook. Log off twitter (after following me @sj_penner, obviously). Ignore the inner voice telling your that no one wants to hear what you have to say. Just think of something that makes you smile, andwrite.
If you need a more physical reminder of this particular idea, why not get a mug? 100% of proceeds go directly to charity.
Author of the upcoming series #Tyrant, artist, and inveterate dabbler. Creator of #guiltfreeswag for writers and gamers at Coffee Ink where 100% of proceeds go to Red Cross Emergency Services.