Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writing for YOU!

Okay, I know this seems obvious. I mean, writers write because we love to write, right? (heh, try saying that five times fast) We write the stories that we want to tell. So we're always writing for ourselves, right?

Not...necessarily.

Because we also want to get published, so sometimes we can't help thinking: maybe I should tell THIS kind of story--it might sell better. Or Dreamy Agent X likes THIS kind of book, so maybe I should write that. And even if it doesn't go that far, sometimes it's impossible not to think: I have to finish this draft/revision so I can query/sub it and finally get a book deal. 

And it's understandable. Being published is a BIG dream--it's only natural that it would influence us. I know I'm totally guilty of thinking that way.  But it also puts a LOT of extra pressure on every word I type when I do it. And it tends to rob me of my joy of writing.

So a while ago I came up with my own solution to the problem, and I thought I'd let you in on the secret. But I'm trusting you guys with this. Everyone agree to keep my secret?

*waits for everyone to nod*

Okay.

*whispers* I have a sekrit project.

Other than like...three people deep deep DEEP in the inner circle of trust, no one knows what it's about. Not even my agent. (She doesn't even know it exists--shhh--don't tell her!) And I know that might seem strange. Like...why write something and keep it a secret--especially from your agent?

And the answer is: because this one's MINE.

I'm not writing it to please anyone other than myself. If I want to break a rule and do something unconventional--I can. If I want to throw in a joke that I know only *I* will think is funny, I can. If I want to drag out my favorite scenes way longer than they need to be or let my characters run wild, I can. I don't have to think about what readers or agents or editors will want from me. I only think about what *I* want, because it's mine mine all mine.

I know that might seem like a waste of good writing time--but I assure you, it isn't. Because any time I've hit a wall or gotten discouraged or had a bad day and feel like just giving up the whole "being published" dream, I turn to my sekrit project. A couple of scenes just playing around, and I fall back in love with writing. Every. single. time.

Will I ever share my sekrit project with anyone? Maybe... Maybe not. It won't be for a while. I'm sure it'll need some MAJOR revision if I do--it's a hot mess--and I'm not ready for that right now. It's MY hot mess, and I love it just the way it is.

And I can tell you this. If I ever do decide to clue ze agent into ze sekrit project and transform it into ze possibly publishable manuscript, it won't be until I've got another sekrit project tucked safely away. Because I have to sometimes write just for me. It's how I stay sane and keep going through all the ups and downs of this crazy journey. I highly recommend it for any of you. It's amazing what a difference it makes.

But what about you guys? How do you keep from falling out of love with writing? Have you ever tried writing something just for you and you alone?

36 comments:

  1. I've only written one manuscript and it may end up just for me. I have to write about stories I like. You spend too much time with the story not to. But I am realizing that less agents and publishers like high fantasy vs. other types of fantasy. So I think for my next project I'm going to think of a story that's still a fantasy like I love, but not high fantasy.

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  2. At the moment, all my writing is for me (and my kids) because it still hasn't found a publisher. But I don't think I could go through the whole process of writing, all those months and years, if I didn't connect with it and (mostly) like it.

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  3. Shannon, that's fabulous! I love that idea! I like to play around with writing things, too, and lately that means short stories and poems and such -- just because!

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  4. Most of what I write is for me. That way I know I'll love my story and characters. I couldn't write a book if I didn't. Then I might as well be a ghost writer. ;)

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  5. My first two books. Both were written out of the simple fact that I ran out of books to read and I wanted to live these stories. So I wrote them. My third book is the first one I wrote with the market in mind. I think its important to keep a 'sekrit' project:)

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  6. I have a journal where I write only for me. It's where I turn when I am certain I am quiting (these days that seems to be a daily thing). I write in tht journey whenI can't seem to write anywhere else. And although no one reads those pages, many a character has made themselves known to me during the process.

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  7. Yup. My new adult project may never be ready to submit to anyone. But I love it because parts of it are autobiographical .

    Keep writing for YOU. :)

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  8. I always have some stuff that's jut mine. Actually, writing is the one part of my life that belongs to me....the rest of me belongs elsewhere. So, yeah...I totally get what you're saying.

    Good luck!

    Shelley

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  9. This is so cool that I'm not even sure what to say.

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  10. Everything I write is for me, in one way or another. I don't obsess over genre conventions or what's already been done, etc. I've been writing for over 15 years, every day, and I still do it for myself. I've never researched an agent or a publisher, and while I one day will, it's still in the future for me. All the gratuitous writing has given me a strong voice, lots of experience in different genres, and whole lot of funny stuff to read. :)

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  11. I actually just re-read a whole stack of my poetry and thought I should write poetry every once in a while, because I haven't in forever, and I can be so indulgent with it.

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  12. I think we should all have a sekrit project, something we turn to all for ourselves. My short stories are sort of like this. I rarely share them with anyone. In fact, I haven't really, not in years. But I have a feeling that your sekrit project, when it's finished will be your most rewarding project ever.

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  13. Writing for yourself is so much fun! It's such a great idea to always have something for yourself going because it keeps the magic of writing alive. You don't get bogged down by queries and finding an agent or any of that stuff. Instead, it's all for you.

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  14. +JMJ+

    Shannon, the last time I commented on one of your posts on writing, I mentioned that some really awful comments I got on my work have paralysed me and kept me from writing anything ever again.

    Well, I think you're helping me get back on my feet. =) If I had a "sekrit" project, too, I wouldn't be so hung up about it, right? I'd be free to fall in love with writing again and not worry about what anyone thinks.

    Publishing can come later--if at all. We're writers first and published authors second. (Right, J.D. Salinger? LOL!) Maybe I'll let my great-grandchildren publish my stuff for me when I'm safely dead and safe from criticism forever. The point is just to do it because you love it, right?

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  15. This is a great idea! (Now where to find time for both the main story and the sekrit project...hmmmm...) :)

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  16. Haha, a "sekrit" manuscript, that's GREAT! Super, to write for yourself. I guess I don't have something like that, since I try to approach ALL my manuscripts with a sense of the joy of writing. I constantly monitor my interest level. If it's waning, I try to figure out why, because if I'm bored or blah, the reader certainly will be! Usually, I have to ignore thoughts of the end result (along with querying and publication) while I'm writing.

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  17. Wow, Shannon. That's a FABULOUS idea! I know lately, I generally write with the dream of publishing in the back of my mind and I drive myself crazy. The MS I'm revising now is kind of a nightmare: *does the action happen fast enough* *is the first chapter good enough* *is my MC unique enough* Argh! So, really - having something that's just mine...hmm. I'll see what I can do. :) Thanks!

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  18. That is amazing that you have one just for you! I think you're right. And it's important to write just for yourself sometimes. Otherwise you will burn out and it will be just another "job"

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  19. That is such a good idea Shannon. I'm kind of thinking the same about my rhyming MG novel, I am totally entertained by writing it (except I'd secretly like it to get published - naughty wanting both!) Have you got a secret desire to get yours published too?
    Catherine

    I have no idea if my email addres is linked so here goes: catherine_mrsj[at]hotmail.com

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  20. My first 2 books were my life; so I guess they were for me. I have always tried to write either what I know or what I want to know. Even as a features writer I was lucky enough to write for me.

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  21. Fabulous post :) It's true. When you're writing for just yourself, it's easier and more fun!

    (pssst. *whispers* I heart your sekrit project and your deep deep DEEP inner circle of trust)

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  22. In some ways I think this is what blogging is good for. I can just write something random and toss it out there to see what kind of reaction I get. I've got tons of secret stuff that I wrote when I was younger and I don't feel like adding any more to that file.

    But everybody should have a good method to fall back on, whether it be a "sekrit project" or a random blog post or comment or something else. If it works, then it's all good.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  23. I'm totally stealing this and creating my own MINE project. And I love that it's sekrit! ALl day I shall immerse myself the mine project. *sigh* Can't wait.

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  24. I love your idea of a secret project! Usually I just read a book I love and that reignites my writing fire.
    Catherine Denton

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  25. Ooooh secret hush hush project, wink-wink, say no more *taps side of nose with index finger* but for comedic effect ends up with finger in nostril...

    Ok, I'm going doollally now!! Ooooh so so so so great you have a secret writing project going!!!! Will we ever be party to it we wonder... (notice the royal we!! We have a Big Wedding here next year ya know - I have my souvenir mug all ready..!).

    Take care
    x

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  26. Girl, you are just full of great ideas! Yesterdays post and now todays...I love the idea of something just for me.
    Something I do to get the fire going again is critique. Oh, and also getting back to the place where my inspiration first hit me for the project (rewatching a move, rereading a book, song, etc.)

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  27. I used to have a pet project I worked on. I haven't pulled it out for a while, because well, I haven't been depressed enough to do that. Not that you're depressed or anything. Oh jeez, that came out wrong.

    And second, I haven't had TIME. But I do believe we need to have projects that we can love.

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  28. That's such a good idea! I definitely might try that, especially since I'm stuck right now on my current WiP. Writing a hot mess just for myself sounds just about perfect!

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  29. Awesome idea that totally rocks! I haven't had to fall out of love yet. Although, I sometimes think I'm close to it during the editing process. :)

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  30. I love that you do that!lol

    But honestly, that's what I use my blog for. It's my writing outlet for...everything. I only draw the line at political or religous stuff because that's too private...my husband gets those rants.lol

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  31. I hope someday we do get to see your sekrit project!
    Right now, I really enjoy writing for myself because I have a few venues--nonfic, poetry, and fic. It make it easier to find something just for me.

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  32. I totally know what you are saying. You can't write for the market. You have to write from the heart. ***shivers*** Could be your best project yet, right? I lurv sekrits! Oh, and HI!!!! ****waves from France***

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  33. Before I start querying, I always make sure I'm a good 10K words into my next manuscript that I love - to counteract any Rs that are sure to come. So yes, we all need that project that is just ours.

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  34. What a great idea! A sekrit project. Thanks for sharing about this.

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  35. I have such a hard time writing for myself! I've been playing around with just trying to write for myself and not tell anyone the premise but it is extremely hard to get that "I want to get published what would an agent say" voice out of my head. It's really become paralyzing recently which is why I'm doing NaNo. But when every sentence comes out I think, "Would a reader like this?" And then I'm stuck again. I think maybe it just takes practice. No matter how frustrated I get :)

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