Tuesday, March 15, 2016

How Writing Goals Change

I was on a forum recently where some new writers were talking about how they had recently written something and submitted it. They were scared and nervous that their stories were stupid and that they were horrible writers. They were worried about getting feedback and hearing that they were awful.

It just reminds me of when I was in that place, too, and how your perspective changes the longer you've been a writer. After awhile, you get so much feedback from critique partners, reviewers, and editors, that you know your writing isn't perfect and you don't expect it to be. You stop worrying about that.

You become jaded after awhile when it comes to people's opinions. You still listen to them sometimes. You still want to improve, but after hearing how someone thinks novels where character's describe their appearance using a mirror are stupid and then reading several best-selling novels where the author does just that...you stop listening to all the chattering as much.

Especially when it comes to romance scenes and metaphors. There are always the people who take every metaphor literally. They can't read the sentence,"His eyes followed her around the room" without picturing his eyes popping out of his face and bouncing/rolling behind her everywhere she goes like a sad lost puppy. We all know what this person meant, though, when they said this sentence. It's just that everyone pictures things differently and some people are more literal than others. You can't control how people will view your words.

People are very particular about romance scenes as well. They hate this word and that one. It makes them giggle and laugh. Probably because people view romance as very personal and intimate and there's a part of them that are like children still. Any little misplaced word can make us giggle at a romance scene. Maybe because as a culture, we still feel shy and awkward about romance.

So guaranteed there's going to be someone who laughs or mocks whatever you write. You stop looking for that validation. You don't need it and you know you'll never achieve it.

After awhile, you start worrying about how you write more. Did the way you wrote this scene impact people the way you wanted it to? Did the words say what you wanted them to say? Or did you write things wrong and confuse everyone?

You know everyone won't like you and your message, but you want to make sure that at least you portray your message clearly for them to judge.

And you get bogged down by sales rather than reviews. A one-star review is barely a blip on the radar of your life, but a month where you sell only one book has the potential to make you cry.

You have to write a certain way. You have to market a certain way. If your books aren't selling, then you're obviously doing it wrong according to everyone. You read articles about fixing this and watch other more successful authors (and try to imitate what they do), until you're blue in the face and sometimes it doesn't make a difference.

I really would like to let all these things go. I'd like to not worry about sales. Not worry about people's rules. I just want to be free and to just write. The more I hear these days about how I have to do things a certain way, the less I want to do them. It's not because I can't take advice. Of course, I crave advice, so I can improve as an author.

But after awhile, you hear so much advice and so many rules....on and on and on....

You hear about all the things you have to do...so many things to sell books that there aren't enough hours in a day to do it all...

That after awhile, you realize, no author does all these things and no author follows all these rules and you just want to let them go. You want to be free from all the chatter and voices.

You want to be created again. You want to feel like a new author again. Where the world is full of possibilities of whether or not people might like you. Where the stories in front of you are art. They inspire and excite you.

Where you don't worry about dollar signs.

Where you don't know about all the rejection you will receive.

Where you write exactly how you want to and pay no mind to the consequences of it.

Where in front of you is only possibilities and butterflies in your stomach full of hope.


Anonymous said...

"There are always the people who take every metaphor literally. They can't read the sentence,"His eyes followed her around the room" without picturing his eyes popping out of his face and bouncing/rolling behind her everywhere she goes like a sad lost puppy."

-> If you have CPs like these, run away from them as fast as you can.

As a general rule though, I'll say that there comes a time when CPs can do more harm than good. Beta readers are more than enough, so they can give you feedback on the story and such, but having CPs dissecting your writing constantly can really hold you back.

E.B. Black said...

So far I haven't had any critique partners complain about things like this specifically. That example comes from social media and a lot of posts I've read where people complain about books. I stopped listening to these specific people after awhile because I realized all their examples are just metaphors. Writing is supposed to be art and poetic sometimes. Everything doesn't have to be literal.