I had a creative meltdown a few weeks ago. I was boiling under the pressure of a deadline, a new book coming out, an essay deadline, and the possibility of starting another new novel. I’m ashamed to say I freaked out. I fell into every writerly cliche possible- I’m no good, I’m terrible, I need to get a nine-to-five, why would anyone publish me?
The book wasn’t working, the pacing was off, the characters were sketchy. I stalled. And I realised the issue was this: my first two novels, I wrote for fun. I wrote them for me. Either because I had something that needed to be said, or because I enjoyed the process.
When you write for someone else (a publisher/an agent), no matter how lovely and understanding they are, there’s a fear of judgement. The fear that they’ve taken a chance on you, and it’s no good. A chance you were a one hit wonder and they’ll let you down easy.
After some advice from a good friend (who’s both a writer and a publisher) I realised the truth was there all along- I needed to do it for fun. If I stop writing at the end of the day and feel satisfied, with both the word count and the fun time I’ve had, then I’m probably good. It’s the opposite to almost every other work experience I’ve had, where usually I know I’m doing well if my brain hurts.
So who do you write for? What do you write for? To feel good, to feel important, as play? To make money, to impress people, to have a finished article? I’m currently studying the importance of creative writing as a therapeutic process, and that’s the point I was missing- sometimes, if you focus on the process, the outcome will work itself out.
With that said, I’m off to write!