Being an author is, in many ways, strange. You’d think it would simple; you write down what’s in your head, and after tidying it up and obeying all the normal ‘rules of good writing’ you publish it. Physically that’s all you have to do and it’s easy, but there are all sorts of emotions that go with being a writer, and they often seem to be at opposite ends of the extreme.
On the one hand, you are happy and fulfilled that you have managed to create something tangible from something so abstract. Thoughts, feelings and ideas have become a physical thing you can hold in your hands, and that’s amazing. Then you have disappointment that people aren’t falling over themselves to read it, that people aren’t as amazed by it as you are, and that they don’t gush over it all the time.
Sometimes, other emotions come in and mix everything up and you have turmoil for a while. Sometimes you feel like giving up and never writing again, other times you wonder what planet everyone else is on because they can’t see what a magnificent and world changing creation you’ve just brought into being. As an author, you will experience them all, you will swing through the whole arc of these emotions, and many others. The trick is to keep a few basic truths at the forefront of your mind.
Motive Why do you write? There is only one right answer to this question, and unless you give the right answer, you will never be at peace with your life as an author. The right answer is, “because I have to.” If you answer that you want to make money or get famous, impress your friends, or because it’s therapy for you, then my advice is simple; stop writing. Writing to get rich just will not work. Yes you may make a little but you won’t make a long lasting income from this type of writing. There are many of this type of writer out there; just think of those times when famous books have come out, such as 50 shades, Harry Potter etc. The moment these came out, there were suddenly thousands of people out there suddenly writing erotica or young adult fantasy. This is bandwagon writing, and any success will be short, sharp and temporary. Flashes in the pan go out of fashion even quicker than they come into fashion, and when they drop off the radar, you will go with it and believe me, readers have very short memories. You will be forgotten very quickly when everyone has jumped onto the new bandwagon, whatever that may be, and any income will dry up. Bandwagon writing doesn’t have the staying power necessary to ensure you slowly but surely gain a steady and loyal following for your work, which is solid, dependably good quality, and true to the genre you were meant to write in, which tends not to be the one that is the latest fad. If you know in your bones that you need to write historical drama, then don’t write erotica, fantasy or any other of the latest fashion, (unless of course the latest fashion happens to be historical drama). If you write true to way your brain and soul are wired, your work will have that spark of authenticity that will be missing from anything you churn out just because it’s fashionable at the moment and you want to make a few quid.
Perspective It really doesn’t matter if you don’t get rich or famous. If you write with the proper motive, then your goal will be to produce an excellent quality work that anyone who reads will enjoy. Making money or becoming well known, should not be part of your goals, as they detract from producing top quality work. Those goals produce lower quality work that is churned out quickly, is often much shorter in length, (many bandwagon authors typically write books less than 40k words), their covers are the same as all the others and badly produced, and the work itself is just dead boring and badly edited to boot. Of course there are good quality books and stories of less than 40k words, in case anyone is thinking of sending me dog turds through the mail, but many of the bandwagon authors write short stuff. This is because they aren’t writing true to the write genre for them, and therefore they can’t find adequate creativity to make it longer. Another reason is so they can churn out more stuff, more quickly and keep their name out there. Once you let go of the desire to get rich and famous, and concentrate all of your focus on just writing top quality stuff in the right genre for you, the quality of your ideas will go up tremendously. If you want to be sure of making money writing, join a newspaper.
Originality This is really joined at the hip with motive. Jumping on any bandwagon will not allow you to be original in your creativity, because the need to churn out the same stuff all the time prevents you from being able to let your mind wander where it really wants to. There are only so many ways to write about vampires, zombies, dragon riding knights of old and cheap sex, and it all becomes old very quickly. Be original, write something new that no one has yet thought of and you can be the trendsetter rather than a wagon rider. It’s much more fun writing something totally new, than churning out the same boring shit everyone else is churning out just because you all want to make some money. Forget the money and write something that’s in your soul, no matter if it’s fashionable or not.
The Tough Question This one is simple; do you actually have the talent to write? If the only way you can produce anything at all, is if you follow the crowd and produce the same 20k erotica that everyone else is producing, but the thought of writing a 100k science fiction or historical drama, crime drama, epic fantasy etc horrifies you and makes your mind go blank and flaccid, then you’re probably not cut out to be a writer. Be truthful when answering the tough question, and if you discover you’ll not likely to make a writer as long as your asshole points downwards, take a deep breath and find something else to do that you are capable of doing well, do it to the best of your ability, and be better than anyone else at it. There are far too many people trying to be writers, who aren’t writers of quality and who really shouldn’t be doing it. Don’t be a mediocre flash in the pan who is quickly forgotten when the fashion changes, do what you are good at and excel at it.
These four simple truths, if answered correctly, will help keep you focussed during the down times when your emotions are taking a dip. When you haven’t made a sale in a few weeks and feel worthless, remember these truths, answer them again and get your focus back on track. Treat them like a self inflicted kick up the backside when you need it most and they will help you move away from all the wrong mindsets that try to misdirect you on your path, whether that path be as a writer or not.