There is no correct way of writing fiction. (Duh!) If there was, creative writing classes would be a whole lot more concrete. There is no right way, and every way will take practice to get great at it. But here’s the cool thing, the one thing that will always keep me coming back to writing fiction — I am the only one who can write the stories I will write. That’s the most enticing idea ever, to me at least. Finding out what I’ll come up with next is part of what drives me.
Do you ever find yourself looking for a book to read, and dissatisfied with the choices out there? Hmm…Why don’t they have a fairytale about a grown up girl who inherits a reclusive aunt’s century-old mansion and within discovers a doorway that transports her from this world into Fae-land where she becomes a dragon rider and warlord in a battle to save the earth from the overrunning demon hordes?
Whatever it is — write that book. Write the book you would love to read if only you could find it. Don’t stifle yourself because “people don’t write like that any more” or “everyone knows superheros are for losers” or “the last show like that got canceled after one season.”
Who cares if you can tell there’s interest in general about a topic or theme or style that you’re interested in writing. Who cares.
For one thing, you don’t really know what others are interested in reading. We know what sells of what is on the market…but not what people would like to see on the market.
I’m stopping there with that train of thought because it is essential that your concerns about marketability or “worthiness” from a consumer standpoint do not derail your pursuit of what you love.
Not only will you have more fun and write more often when you’re writing topics, characters and themes that are close to your heart, but others can tell that you were in love with your work, too. People are drawn to the sincerity that came out of making art for art’s sake and worrying about who might like to read it much later.
Are you excited? I hope you’re excited. This freedom to create simply because I love something is so wonderful — it makes my writer life worth living. So get excited, indulge in that which you love, make the books you want to read. Write the stories you need to write. Just make stuff because it’s the most glorious fun you’ve ever had, or because you feel a glimmer of something beyond definition and it is only understandable through story. (JOY. INTUITION. Is it coming together yet?)
I also want to talk about the freedom to figure out what works for you. (The “your way” part.)
When I started being truly productive with my fiction writing, I always wrote in the morning. It felt like I needed to be fresh and have quiet time to get anything done. I struggled to get the words on the page, and especially to do so in an appealing order for stretches of pages at a time. *grin*
That’s all okay, it’s part of the learning curve and every writer has to practice to get past it. But most authors I know will tell you it got easier to get past it when they broke out of old habits and just kept trying new things, finding what worked and then doing that until they got stuck, and going back to the drawing board to try something new. One thing many writers have in common is an inquisitive nature that will not be put down by a single failure. Unfortunately, many of us also get hung up in fear. For some that’s the end of writing. For many it is just one more thing to learn about ourselves, so that we can keep pushing toward our best work, which is still down the road.
Give yourself this freedom. Your patterns may have worked a year or two ago, but they might be sticking you up now. Try the opposite. You used to write in two-hour long sessions and it worked great, but now you can’t get yourself to sit down for that marathon? Try twenty-minute sessions, with short breaks in between. Try chains of two or three twenty minute sessions at opposite ends of the day. You might find that with these shorter bursts of work you’re actually more productive, and more likely to sit down and do the day’s work.
Do you sometimes dread your office? I work in there for my day job, and insist on doing all of my book formatting, uploading and business management there. I also manage the family business there. Honestly, it’s become a less-than-creative space for me. I write better at the dining room table, or out in the world at a coffee shop or restaurant. (Sidenote: I’ve discovered the joy of having someone bring me food and drink while I write a chapter. Talk about the joy place!)
I also have kids, a day job and a busy family schedule — and I actually like to spend time with my husband now and again, for goodness sake! So it’s been a challenge to figure out what works in terms of getting my writing work done, but also making it seamless and almost invisible for my family, who do not deserve to bear the brunt of my heady ambitions. lol
This brings me to another point. We all have different needs. Those needs in terms of other commitments and interests can’t just be ignored when the fiction decides to pour out of us. That might be how you get started, but it won’t work over the long term. Think ahead of time about how you fit in extra writing sessions when the going is good. And always forgive yourself if you don’t make it one week. Overall, discipline will pay off far more than “waiting for the muse.”
I’ve done wacky things over time to fit in my writing. At times, I get up in the middle of the night and work on plotting something out, or on some reading to do with publishing or creativity. I have hangouts stashed around my city and between my home and my workplace 60 miles away, so if I have a bit of time I can stop off and get in a few words. I leave the computer set up at the dining room table on weekend mornings and days off, and can often get in my personal minimum goal before the rest of the family is ready for breakfast.
My husband is a big help, and I’m a lucky woman that he has been so patient as I put countless hours into developing my storytelling skills, many more into the business side of publishing, and all of it without profit of any tangible sort. (Though they say happy wife=happy life, so that may be his reasoning. lol We’re actually both very supportive of each other’s pursuits, and we both have them. 🙂 ). Take people up on that support, where you can. And if you don’t have support or much time at all, try to figure out where you can squeeze in some time, even a half an hour a few days a week.
Figure out what works for you. Make YOUR art and make it your way.
Does that mean you shouldn’t listen to anyone else?
Of course not! Always listen! Give me a break! Do you want to spend your whole life re-inventing ideas that are already floating around out there? Read up on what works for other authors. This will give you ideas about what might work for you. Then adapt those methods to your own life, your own needs, and TAKE OFF!
Go for it. Have FUN!
I’ll be back with another Own Your Writing Career post next Thursday. Until then, happy writing!!
“Own Your Writing Career: Make YOUR Art (Your Way)” copyright © 2015 by J.R. Pearse Nelson