Thursday, July 22, 2010

So You Think You're Talented

If you were writing with the belief that you truly sucked and you'd never improve, would you keep writing? I didn't think so. One of the hardest things I've ever done was to keep working on a novel that I loathed, but there was one small seed of hope inside my heart that the book would improve. And it did.

It's that small seed that drives me. I'll bet you've got it, too.

That seed drives me to share my work. Here's a commonly asked question that I'd like to address:

Do you write to sell or do you write only for yourself?

What a stupid question, huh? Yeah, of course you're writing to sell, or at least to share. Unless you're locking up all your manuscripts in a drawer with no intent of showing them to anyone, ever, you're writing to sell and share. And since you're writing to sell or share, you're considering an audience. And if you're considering an audience, you're shaping stories that you believe that audience might like. No? You're writing exactly what you want and how you want it and you don't care what anybody else thinks? Good for you! Write what you want and an audience will follow. You talented writer, you. Either way, you've got drive!

You know what got me to really let go and just write what I wanted to write? I made a secret blog with a separate gmail account and fake name and started posting my work just to get it out there. I thought, heck, I’m going to write what I want to write, even if it is clich├ęd or boring or overdone. I don’t care! So I wrote. And I wrote one of the best pieces of fiction I’ve created so far. It taught me how to let go.

True creativity comes only when you forget the world you’re living in exists. It is only you and the art. At least that’s how it is for me.

Get to that place.

And then enter our contest! Show us your talent! We want more entries! If I was going to enter a contest like this, my mind might explode with the possibilities of what I could do.

Maybe there’s

P
An
Da
S

Up on my roof and there’s

Bamb
Oo

Growing to

The




Sun.


Oh, and guess what? You can get 15% off the first Genre Wars Anthology over on Lulu. If you haven’t purchased your copy yet, now is the time to do it! Click here and enter code: BEACHREAD305

The code is good until August 15th.

Oh, AND, speaking of anthologies, we have a POLL! Please vote! We want to know where you think the money should go for our new anthology this year, Notes from Underground. If you haven't heard of this anthology, go check out the contest and rules here.



23 comments:

  1. I know that place. I've visited there before. But, too often, the feeling of just letting go and sinking into that deep creative mode is too scary. Will I come back from the abyss? And that's when my mind controls my muse, to the detriment of my writing.

    Judy

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  2. I think it's a fine line. On some level, we have to consider our eventual readers. But if we don't write for ourselves, then we won't like it, and if we don't like it, then our readers won't.

    Great post.

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  3. My most creative writing comes from when I tell myself that I'm just messing around, just having fun....I even use a fat primary pencil and a kid's notebook....just playing around in some strange attempt to amuse myself.....

    So, yeah, I write for myself a lot. Some of the time, it gets good enough to think about an outside audience....but if I start worrying about that outside audience too early, my stuff starts to come out way too generic.

    great post!

    Shelley

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  4. I write for myself, I revise for my audience.

    I don't crave fame and fortune, but I do want to be read and appreciated.

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  5. I'm in the "write for yourself first" camp. If I want to finish what I'm doing, I have to write it strictly for myself. After it's done, then I can think about making it marketable. If I start considering the market in mid-write, I get sidetracked or intimidated and don't complete it.

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  6. Judy: Ah, I know how that feels! My mind controls my muse most of the time, and it usually ends up a mess on the paper. :(

    Janna: I think considering our readers is absolutely essential, yes. But I also think writing FOR the readers is unnecessary.

    Shelley: That's fun that you write with a huge pencil and kid's notebook! I wonder if that would work for me...probably not, hehe.

    Generic is a good word for trying to please too much. You lose a lot of spark that way, I think.

    Rick: So here's a question for you: if you don't write for fame and fortune, would you be upset if you were never traditionally published? (although I know you are going to be)

    Traci: That's interesting, yes! See, the problem here is that I have a lot of things that are un-publishable because if I don't consider marketability as I'm writing I come up with a lot of bad stuff. Hah. Eventually I come up with something that works, though!

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  7. I think Shelley gives excellent advice. That's where I am at with my writing these days. I hardly think about publication of my newer works anymore. I'm just amusing myself. But, my hope is that after they are done, I'll find that I have something other people will want to read.

    And thanks to everyone for voting on the poll. This is something we've been discussing, and we appreciate your input!

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  8. I love this from Rick above:

    "I write for myself, I revise for my audience."

    I think that sums it up very nicely for me, though I do share draft work, and have gained a small readership from that. So my work appeals to more than just myself, which is motivating. I do think this is one of the reasons I love NaNoWriMo so much though - it's such a fast pace, I can't help but just let go and write. And there's no better feeling than just getting in the "zone" without a care for who will be checking for errors, IMO. :-)

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  9. Davin: Yes, entertaining myself is usually TOP priority. :)

    And, yes, thank you everyone for voting!

    Jamie: Rick is BRILLIANT! He always leaves such good advice, I agree. Revising is where the real writing happens for me - where I turn it from an entertaining story to something more artistic. :)

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  10. Well said Rick.

    Me too, I write for me and then when I read through I fill in holes, take out the non-essentials and hope that it's pretty and shiny enough in the end to get picked up by someone.

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  11. Time for me to fess up. My first novel, which I slaved over for about four years, I wrote because I thought it would sell. I put aside a lot of ideas I had for novels in favor of that one. Now that I've "grown up", I'm writing tales that I love, and like Rick, I hope to revise them for an audience.

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  12. That dichotomy doesn't work for me. I can't separate writing for myself and writing for others. I write because it feels good to share, to amuse, etc. There has to be some kind of audience, or I'm just talking to myself, not sharing.

    I could split it up this way: Am I writing stuff I want people to hear, or am I writing stuff I think people want to hear?

    Am I writing to share or express myself primarily, or am I writing to make money?

    Do I wish to remain anonymous, or do I want the reader to know me through my writing?

    These questions make more sense to me personally. And to answer them:
    both; to express myself, but I also hope to make money so I can do more writing and less working; not sure yet.

    It can be freeing to post content out in the world anonymously. But that isn't the same as placing a manuscript in a locked box (truly writing only for oneself). That's writing for an audience, anonymously, to free the mind from fears of judgment.

    The only time I truly write solely for myself is when I'm writing a list of things to do or groceries to buy.

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  13. Jolene: Good luck! Shiny is good. :)

    Crimey: Hey, you at least learned from that book! I wouldn't count that as a loss at all.

    Jeannie: Well that makes perfectly good sense. Why didn't I write the question that way???

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  14. The way you put the question does push us to see the need for both, though. We need to write about subjects that interest us, in ways that we like--or else our hearts won't be in it. And we need to consider our audience, or else we'll get lazy with our quality.

    I think writing only for oneself or writing only for a market, either way, is a recipe for soullessness. The magic happens when a connection is made between our hearts and our readers.

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  15. Now I want to know the name of your secret blog so that I can read it - what a cool idea. Makes me want to start one of my own and just write whatever I want and not worry about what people think.

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  16. Genie: That's perfectly put! Yes, I absolutely think magic happens when a connection is made between both. Completely selfish writing usually only appeals to the writer and maybe their mom. Completely selfless writing usually appeals to no one because it's way too general and a mess because the writer tried to please everyone. :)

    lakeviewer: Thanks!

    Mary: Oh! Haha, I made that blog private now, and it's Cinders I'm talking about! So you'll get to read it, no worries.

    I'll send you an invite to the blog. It's just for people who are interested in my writing process. It's not very exciting. :)

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  17. I have nothing new to add; I just wanted to say I enjoyed reading everyone's comments.

    I can't imagine writing only for the market. That would be "soulless" indeed. I have to write what I want to write. What I want others to hear, as Genie said. That's not to say I think I have a great message for the world. It's more a message of confirmation that we're all much the same and in this together.

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  18. I have no *philosophical* objection to writing for the market. I would love to be able to write regularly for a lucrative market. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. Writing that doesn't come from the soul doesn't come.

    Writing for others is different. I write the stories I want to write, but I have no idea if I've communicated what I wanted to convey unless someone else reads it and tells me what it meant to them. All to often, what I thought was profound comes across to others as merely confusing and trite. Then I have to try again.

    The greatest feeling is when someone sees something in your own work that you did not even realize was there until they point it out. That feeling is like crack for writers.

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  19. About the proceeds from anthology. Here's my 2 cents. I have a story published in an anthology that sends all proceeds to charity. I didn't realize how much it would aggravate me. It's not that I want the money -- I imagine it would be no more than a few dollars a year.

    But I have no idea. Because I never receive royalty statements, I also never get to find out how many copies are selling. After a while, I stopped bothering to promote the anthology because I just sort of forgot about it.

    So while it's classy to donate the proceeds to charity, it's also frustrating. I think if I had received a regular updates saying, "This year the anthology donated X $ to charity," I would have felt differently.

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  20. Linda: Yes, it's really nice to know there's such a huge network of us! That's one of the reasons why I love this blog so much.

    Tara: This resonated with me: "The greatest feeling is when someone sees something in your own work that you did not even realize was there until they point it out. That feeling is like crack for writers."

    I absolutely love to get feedback on my writing because there's usually always some little tidbit in there that shows me I actually connected with someone on a level I never intended - a good level.

    Also, about the anthology. That was a concern of mine, too, about our authors not knowing when the money went where, and how much, so Davin announced it awhile ago how much was donated and the amount of sales we made. We'll do that on a regular basis for Genre Wars, and for Roots from Underground if we donate the proceeds to charity.

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  21. I meant Notes from Underground. Sheesh. My brain is not here.

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  22. Well, you need something to get you past all the rejections, and if the belief that you're talented will keep you going, then it's great. Who defines talent anyway?

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