Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved to read. She read from sun up to sun down, happily turning pages to discover what new wonder lay in store for her. Many years later that girl grew up and began telling tales of her very own. She loved writing, loved crafting new characters and worlds for people to discover with her.
Then people began to fall in love with her stories. Swelled with a sense of appreciation she set out to make her new found readers happy, publishing book after book in quick succession. But somewhere along the way she stopped reading, stopped having hobbies, stopped doing the things she loved most because writing (and the need to make readers happy) had consumed her and instead of feeling free she felt trapped.
Does this sound like anyone you know? Have you ever felt this way?
Although the story above could describe countless people, this one is my own tale. Over the past four years I have learned a lot as an indie author. I’ve learned the ups and downs, the heartaches and thrills, and I’ve learned just how easy it is to let this world consume you.
I began writing with one goal in mind: to entertain.
Four years down the road I am no longer the dreamer that I was. I no longer write what I want when I want because that’s what my muse calls for. I have books that “need” to be written because they are part of a series. I have readers waiting on books that are long overdue. The pressure mounts with each passing month to publish to remain seen in the overflooded indie world. Tensions rise as well known authors all around me release books and struggle to make the best seller lists that they once called their own.
Knowing that the pressure to perform on time has been a huge struggle for me, my friend Danielle sent me a blog post this morning that put things rather bluntly into perspective (read article here at: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html?m=1)N )
Writers are not machines. We need a life. A hobby. A book to escape in. A break.
In the article, it talks about how there are two main complaints that readers typically have about series books
- The newest book wasn’t nearly as good as the last.
- Readers have to wait far too long for the next installment.
The first comes from the pressure of the second. Writing a book is no easy task. There are times when ideas simply do not come at will. We toil, labor and rage at a blank screen until we are convinced the book will never come. Forcing a muse to meet a deadline only births mediocre books, which readers will not thank you for.
So to the authors out there feeling pressured to write faster or work on something that just isn’t flowing…stop. Breath. Work on something else. Let the ideas marinate while you feed your muse in other ways.
If a reader is truly a fan they will eagerly await the arrival of your next book, no matter how long it takes to write. You know what your book needs to be good. Honor your book by taking however long you need to make it right. This is a lesson that I am still learning.
Pressure is the killer of great books. Giving up your life, your hobbies and the things you love most is the killer of a great author. Don’t let yourself be ruled by other people’s demands. Write what you love because you love it…otherwise you will wake up on day wondering why you even bother writing at all.
Balance your life. Do the things you love. Write what fills your heart, even if it’s not the task set before you.
“Life is filled with inspiration. When we stop living it, we stop feeling inspired.” ~Amy Miles