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Why Do You Write?
12/5/2011 4:24:35 PM
Why do you write? It’s a simple question that we can easily lose sight of as we travel the publishing path. Why is it that we often neglect watching TV, going out with friends, yard work, hitting the gym, sleeping in, going to bed early and the myriad other things normal people do during the course of their day so that we can sit alone in a quiet room and push our thoughts out onto paper or a computer screen? What drives us? If you are a writer, and my hunch is that you are or you’d be doing one of those myriad things listed above instead of reading this Blog, then you know what drives you. Our personal motivations to write vary. My driving force is my fascination with the power of story to change our lives, and my love of words. Whatever yours may be, it’s important, nay imperative, that you not lose sight of it.
If you are a writer trying to get your work published, then it’s very possible that you already have lost sight of why you write. How do you know when you’ve lost sight of it? Here are the nasty symptoms to watch out for. Number one: You’ve written more drafts of your query letter and synopsis than you have of your latest work. Number two: You’ve spent more time reading form-rejection letters from agents than reading your latest edit. Number three: Your daydreams lately have been more about being discovered than discovering new ideas for your next book.
It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important, namely the writing, when we are trying to get past the Gatekeepers. Attempting to get our novel in the hands of publishers can be all-consuming, frustrating and downright depressing. Why doesn’t anyone like our work? Why can’t they see the genius in it like I do? Why do they keep rejecting my book and keep publishing the crap that they do? Why? Why? Why? It’s all too easy to become obsessed with what we assume is the end-goal of our life’s work – to get published. But we all know deep inside as writers that the end-goal in not to get published. It’s to write. Period.
I will make a bold statement now: That first time you put pen to paper and felt that rush of excitement and satisfaction when you created your first little story or part of a story or great sentence, the word “agent” or “publisher” never crossed your mind. It was all about the work. It was all about the power of creation. And later, when you grew up and sat down and finished your very first book-length piece and felt that rush of excitement and satisfaction return to you from out of your childhood, the words “agent” and “publisher” whispered in your mind, didn’t they? And finally, now, today even, you may have spent the last several hours writing and editing draft after draft of your one page, concise query letter consisting of your “hook” and “mini-synopsis” and “author bio”, which by the way is the most anti-creative, mind-numbing party-killer exercise any writer can do, no matter what they say, and that excitement and satisfaction from your days or writing innocence are no longer inside you, are they? The “publishing process” has ever-so-slowly killed them. Haven’t they? For all of you young writers out there, please don’t let this happen. But if it has happened, there is something you can do about it.
So how can we avoid this writing cataclysm? By being very organized. The fact is that the “publishing process” is a necessary evil if we want anyone other than our best friend or spouse to read our work. And we do. But it shouldn’t take over our writing life. I’ve found that by simply assigning only one set day as my day to “chase the dream”, I can avoid getting sucked into the “publishing process”. Giving yourself one set day a week frees your creative mind to pursue that which matters most the rest of the week- the writing. It also satisfies the right side of our brain, that analytical part that is so needed as we deal with agents, queries, the synopsis, form letter writing and rejection. Try it out. And when I say “only one day a week”, I mean “only one day a week”. No cheating. It’s okay to check your email for that form rejection letter from the latest agent you queried, but refrain from firing off another one until your “set day”. In the meantime, keep writing and creating and who knows, that form rejection might one day be a “helpful” rejection! Or one day even a “yes!”
My website: www.pineviewpress.com
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More Blogs by Shawn Patrick Cormier
Why Do You Write? - Monday, December 05, 2011
Creative Ways to Sell Your Book – or Selling in a Psych Ward! - Monday, December 05, 2011
Book signing dos and donts - Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Self-promotion - Wednesday, March 23, 2011
So you want to sell lots of books? - Sunday, March 13, 2011
To publish or not to publish - what is the difference? - Thursday, March 10, 2011
There is hope for us yet! - Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Has Publishing Killed the Writing Star? - Monday, March 07, 2011