As we close the first month of 2014 (wow!) and are beginning to get into our writing groove, or perhaps lose sight of any resolutions (writing-wise) that we made at the end of December, I definitely need to remind myself of the most important thing about writing: that I write for ME.
The title of my writer’s handbook is “Writing for You,” so this is a topic that I feel is critical to success in writing. Lately I’ve felt blasé about my writing. I’ve gotten away from it yet again, after making an effort to get back to my fiction and even organizing my approach to my WIP.
Part of that is a natural, and forgivable, result of lining up a full-time job (finally, yea!!!) and arranging a move. Part of it is that I’ve reached an editing phase, and I’m not as fond of editing as I am of writing first drafts. Part of the explanation, though, is that I lost focus on one major aspect of “writing for me”: I’ve overlooked what I want writing to accomplish for me.
I’ve been making time to watch some tv, after all, which means I have time I could be using to write. I’m just lacking drive and motivation.
You see, my approach to writing fiction needs to be about what the creative process does for me. How it fulfills me. For me personally, that’s more difficult while I’m editing rather than writing new material, but I can still keep some degree of focus on writing’s purpose in my life overall.
WHY I WRITE
I have always been an introspective, introverted person. Now, I can let loose and be goofy with the best of them, and I certainly love being amused by, and appreciating, the simple things in life. But I very much enjoy being philosophical. Pondering the “big stuff.”
For me, writing fiction helps me do that. That might seem odd, considering I write epic fantasy, but fantasy has a lot of opportunity to explore big questions:
- What is human nature?
- Why does redemption matter? What constitutes redemption?
- What is the definition/ value of courage? Of hope, and faith?
- What is the definition of evil, and what forms does evil takes in the world?
- What things are important in life, and worth fighting/sacrificing for?
I believe contemplating these questions brings me to focus more on such things in my real life (though still, not to the extent I probably should): courage, sacrifice, faith, hope. That is why I always say, as a person of faith, that my fiction is part of God’s plan for me, and one of the ways He keeps me close to Him and is shaping me (I pray!) into a better person than I otherwise would be.
FOCUS ON THE BENEFITS WRITING BRINGS YOU
What you get from writing fiction, and how your fiction improves or contributes to your life, might be completely different than what I described above. None of us are identical, after all, and when you consider the different kinds of fiction we might be drawn to….
Whatever writing brings to your life that is good–whatever benefits it provides you–a major key to success in writing is to focus on those fruits when writing becomes difficult or time to write is short.
Because writing WILL get difficult. It always does.
Writing teaches us so much about the world, and about ourselves. It can be a great stress relief: an escape from the frustrations of life for an hour a day. It can even function as a kind of self-administered therapy.
However it is that writing improves your life and makes you a happier, healthier person: that’s the reason writing is worth anything. It’s the reason we authors keep writing when we’re not sure what to write, or if what we’re writing will ever amount to worldly success or even a readable draft.
Like I said, I’ve gotten to focusing exclusively on the nuts and bolts of my work-in-progress. When that happens, all I do is stress about writing, and time management, and how I’m not making enough progress. This post is a nice reminder to myself not to sweat the small stuff and to remember why I write in the first place.
When I do that, I know I can be happy just writing.
- Ten Reasons to Write Fiction (Part I)
- Ten Reasons to Write Fiction (Part II)
- Creative Writing as Therapy