Thursday, June 30
The Write Stuff: Is the Focus on Publishing Hurting Aspiring Writers?
There's only so much anyone can do to help, because each writer has to learn their craft on their own terms. You can find all the help you need, but if you're not ready for something someone teaches you, you won't learn it. Some things I understood very quickly, while other things took me years to figure out. There's no timetable for learning. You get it when you get it.(And sometimes that really sucks)
Writing is a skill like any other, and it takes time to develop that skill. While some writers looking to get published are ready, many of them aren't. Promising writers (be they 15 or 50) who might need a book or two more to polish their craft, are striving boldly into the harsh world of publishing and getting the snot kicked out of them.
I wonder how many stop writing, who otherwise wouldn't have.
I wonder how many turn bitter, thinking that it's impossible to get published.
I wonder how many would have had success, had they not tried for the end goal first.
When I find out someone plays piano or guitar, I don't ask if they plan to get a record contract or join an orchestra. I have a friend who acts in local theater, but I don't ask if she hopes for a career on Broadway one day. Acting is something she enjoys doing, and no one expects more of her. But writing seems different. It's like we're expected to want to get published, and if that isn't our end goal, we're wasting our time. As if folks think writing isn't worth doing if you aren't going to publish it. And not only that, but publish big.
When did this happen?
The plethora of advice and information out there now is both a blessing and a curse. I love the opportunities available to writers, but I do worry that it's raising expectations too much. When I was 14, I never dreamed about submitting a book to agents. I didn't even know what an agent was. But young writers are submitting -- and some are even getting published.
That's a whole lotta pressure for all of us. It lends itself to "well, if they can do it why can't I?" self doubt. And that's not fair because every writer is different. Every book is different, and comparing ourselves to other writers is a waste of energy and means nothing.
When you're learning, whether it's your craft or your story, I think "just writing" is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. You don't have to have an end goal of a book, let alone a publishing contract, in mind. It's probably not the healthiest thing to do, especially when you're starting out. Too-high expectations often lead to disappointments. Disappointment can lead to abandoning something you love. I think if more writers allowed themselves to just write, there would be a lot fewer frustrated writers in the world.
Give yourself permission to just write if you want to. Be free of the pressures to publish and enjoy what you do. If you decide to submit, go for it with gusto. If you decide to post on your website or blog instead, do it with pride.Write however it makes you happy, and don't feel your talent is judged solely on a publishing contract. And try not to judge other writers by that same criteria (we've all been guilty of this at some point, haven't we?)
What matters is that you enjoy the writing. Because if you don't enjoy it, what's the point?
What are your writing goals right now? For fun? To learn? To submit? To publish?
Other articles on similar topics:
Putting the con in confidence
Querying too soon
Don't let your novel take over your life
Yep, writing can be hard
Labels: writing life