Do it for Love

April 25, 2009 at 10:06 AM | Posted in Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Advice | 8 Comments
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Time for a pop quiz. Everyone get out your pencils – no peeking at your neighbor’s paper.

Which of the following is a good, healthy, sustainable reason to write a novel?
A. To get an agent and get published
B. To learn more about my craft and enjoy creating a story while I do

What would you be willing to give up in order to get a book deal?
A. A social life, my dignity, and my first born child
B. Time and the occasional TV show

Do you have at least three hobbies that are unrelated to writing?
A. No
B. Of course!

If I could tell you with certainty that you would never be published, would you continue to write for fun?
A. …I’m never going to be published? (bursts into tears and burns keyboard)
B. Well, I wouldn’t like it, but I enjoy writing too much to stop

Now obviously there is some middle ground between these options, but if you picked mostly As, we need to have a little talk. Publication is a worthy goal and a great motivator when accompanied by a love of writing – but that love for your story and the process has to be there first. Why? Because after you get that fabulous book deal, your editor will still want to work with you on revisions and your agent will expect you to write another book (you might even be contractually obliged to write another one). If you don’t enjoy the steps you have to take to get to the finished project, life as a published author won’t be a lot of fun. If you are putting aside all hobbies and friends until you get published, you might as well be putting them aside permanently.

My advice (and it’s hard for me to do this myself sometimes) is to step back and really think about why you write and what you want to get out of it. If writing is no longer enjoyable because you are constantly comparing your work (or work ethic) to that of your peers, or because you don’t have an agent, or because you are worried you won’t be published before age 20 – stop. Stop comparing, stop looking for an agent, stop obsessing about publication. Take a day to write something completely unrelated to the almost-query-ready WIP. Pen some fanfiction and have fun doing it. Allow yourself to type without critiquing every word. Tell yourself that if you never get published, it will be okay – no one will think any less of you as a writer or a person. Because that’s the truth.

If you aren’t writing for love first and foremost, why bother doing it at all?

Food for thought,
DK

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8 Comments »

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  1. Here here! :D

    Although I admittedly don’t have many hobbies. Um…running…hanging out at the beach…watching movies with friends…

    Yeah. :D

  2. Great post, DK. I always /try/ to write for fun, just because I can. It’s tough not to worry about all that stuff, though–I mean, what if my parents are right? What if I SHOULD be spending the time doing extra math credits or something rather than just writing, a hobby that could potentially lead me nowhere?

    Oh well. I’ve pretty much resolved to just try my best and see where it takes me. :D Not a particularly solid career plan, but I can afford some time to mull things over. For now, I’m happy just to create worlds in my spare time.

  3. Great post DK :) I don’t have three hobbies unrelated to writing. Let’s see…riding um…I like hiking and swimming but those are both reliant on my mom to drive me somewhere to hike and swim (one more year. Just one more year)

  4. Those count, HR! I was surprised by how many hobbies I have, actually – my top three are probably tae-kwon-do, teching (for plays, not computers), and working in research labs on genetics and viruses. I don’t have much of a social life, though. :P

  5. Mine = watching TV shows, reading, writing, talking, and painting my nails over and over again until I get them right.

    None of these things mean I have to leave the house. Or stand up. Thank goodness.

  6. This is HILARIOUS! Love it! I can honestly say I sought publication for mostly the right reasons . . . but occasionally I succumbed to the dark side.

  7. Hahaha, DK. You make me laugh so much.
    *Snorts trying to with-hold laughter*
    The bit about “my first born child”…haha.
    Great. :D

  8. All I have to say to this is: AMEN!!


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