Many writers tell each other writing is a noble but lonely activity, despite the fact that there are millions of us writing and talking about writing.
Some people write for themselves. Some write for political and social justice reasons.
Nothing wrong with that at all. I encourage it. But when they only write for these reasons, it can become unhealthy.
Writing is personal
I have always written for myself. At seven years of age, I received a writing award. I wrote because that was the only way to let the pain out.
Now, I write for social justice reasons. But my first goal is and will always be to entertain.
If my books don’t entertain, then I might as well jump back in my taxi and do those twelve hour shifts until I die.
But by the same token, I don’t encourage people to write only for themselves for long periods of time. It becomes unhealthy. It can end up looking something like this:
The writer becomes engrossed in the story unfolding in their head, becoming enamored with it. They take pieces of themselves and put it into the story.
Tentatively, they approach friends, who may or may not be writers. They ask them to read it and see what they think, because they only want learned and well-considered opinions.
The writer humbly accepts the feedback and happily rewrites the story, before they give it back to their friends to edit, or they pay an editor.
With passion and commitment, the writer completes the work, agonizing over each comma, abolishing double-entendres, and creating musical flow with their words.
Next comes the cover. Perhaps the writer pays for an expensive one, before they send their work out into the wonderful world of Amazon.
Friends buy the book, but then …
They get compliments on the cover, while sales become non-existent.
The writer starts to feel as though they’d done all that work for nothing.
The whole experience becomes lonely, not very noble, and in the end, unhealthy, because their work sits there unloved and the writer descends into depression.
Writing doesn’t have to lead to depression
Healthy writing occurs when books are created with the audience in mind.
Certainly, many writers who write literary fiction are going to disagree with this. Maybe even writers who write genre fiction will disagree.
A traditionally published author said to me not long ago that if I didn’t enjoy what I was writing and if I wrote for an audience, then writing will become a chore.
My response was and is that it is never a chore to know that you’ve done your job well. How much of a chore will it be if your intended audience doesn’t want it?
Writers have to find a happy balance between writing for an audience and the writer’s own enjoyment of that activity.
My writing process
When a story comes into my head, the catalyst for that creation is something I’ve seen or heard or reflected upon in real-life.
That story is NOT complete when I write it down.
The completion process develops as the book progresses through the publishing steps.
Pre-production processes: Developmental stage
With my publisher hat on, I decide upon the marketing purpose of the book. This helps me decide on length, form, and sub-genre.
When I’ve made those marketing decisions, I put my author hat on and begin the plotting process in which I integrate elements of real-life into my five-act plots.
The story usually diverts away from that plot, but this gives me a starting point.
Once I have written the first draft, I usually know what is wrong with it.
I go back and review. Sometimes, I rewrite it totally. But often I don’t have time for that, or it isn’t necessary.
When I am happy with the story I have now, I try to get some feedback.
Feedback is VITALLY important.
I view it as an essential part of the creation process.
However, the type of feedback solicited is also VITALLY important.
One reader might not like it, while the majority of the readers do. Or it may happen the other way around. I don’t try to please everyone.
However, it is important to include readers in the creation process, to listen to what the majority want and like, and create the best story I can based on their feedback.
I use this method to ensure that the publication at the end meets the needs of the intended audience–one of the most basic laws of publishing.
Yes, I learned that at university.
The entire book is a waste of time if the publication doesn’t meet those needs.
The writer must start again, from the beginning. And that isn’t healthy when the writing process takes weeks, months, or sometimes even years.