I am finally in that sweet spot that I haven’t been in for maybe 2 years. I’m writing for fun, and I don’t care if it’s good. I don’t care if anyone likes it.
When I made my first professional SFWA sale, I thought, “AHA! NOW I will feel like I’ve made it as a writer.” I did. For maybe a week? Maybe two weeks.
Somewhere around then I learned that attending Viable Paradise granted me the status of being a neo-professional writer. Not quite a full-fledged pro, but definitely not an amateur anymore. It granted me access to the Codex group where my peer group changed. Suddenly my peers were getting agents, writing novels, and selling to my dream short story markets. My peers were now writing video games, getting film and Netflix options, and I was a very baby writer in a much larger pool. I was swimming with the big fishes.
I was utterly terrified.
Now there was a pressure to be good. Instead of writing a shitty first draft, I felt this pressure that everything had to be good. Right out of the gate. I hampered my own creative process because my brain weasels (little fuzzy jerks in bowties and coke bottle glasses) told me that everything had to be PERFECT. Because now I’m a PROFESSIONAL and…you get the idea.
Here’s what it’s taken me the better part of two years to realize. The more of a death grip I tried to have on my writing, the less I wrote. The less I wrote, the worse I felt, and the more I compared myself to other writers. Which writers, you ask? ALL OF THEM, because my brain weasels are sadistic little assholes like that.
Had I had maybe a little more compassion for myself, I would have said, “Hey, you DO realize you’re in constant pain and dealing with an injury that makes daily life almost impossible, right? RIGHT? You do need to recover from surgery and you can’t do that when you’re so high on painkillers your idea of a good time is to sleep for 18 hours.” But nope, those pesky thoughts just went round and round until I drove myself crazy.
I wish I could give you a clear cut path to why now I don’t care. I’m sure it’s partially being in my mid-late 30s. Maybe it’s because writing has always been my solace, and I need it more than I need my brain weasels, especially right now. I definitely know that because I’m mostly pain-free, I feel like I owe it to myself to make good use of my time.
Part of it has definitely been the writing community on Twitter who inspires me every single day with their creativity and ingenuity. Yes, I know; I can’t believe I’m once again singing Twitter’s praises. But my Twitter group is just so much fun. I’ve ever started writing for #VSS365 (very short stories) just to challenge myself. Yesterday I dashed off a poem in 3 minutes flat and made sure I hit publish before I could think of a reason not to.
I am having SO MUCH FUN.
When you’re a new writer and just getting started there’s an immense amount of freedom. No one cares what you’re writing, and so you don’t have to care either. You can experiment and know that it might not ever see the light of day. With the exception of one story, every single fiction piece I’ve written has started with the thought, “This is ridiculous. No one will ever publish that.” Because I let myself have that freedom, my creativity was allowed to run free.
Now some people may care more about what I’m writing, but I’m sure most of them are more focused on their own projects. The beauty is that I don’t care what others think of what I’m working on. I know I’ll care when I send out a piece and receive the inevitable rejection, but I’m not going to let that stop me from keeping the fun in creating.
I know that I’ll care again. I’ll care as I start shopping for an agent, and as I finish up the novel and novella I’m working on. I’ll care when I get another short story rejection, as I know I will because it’s an incredibly competitive market.
But the first draft? I can stop looking at it so much as drudgery and have some fun. I can write things just for fun that don’t have to have a purpose other than to create.
Which means YOU should make sure you’re having some fun with your writing, too. Yes you. I see you! No, you can’t hide behind your screen. I’ve made a veggie tray for the brain weasels, so take some snacks, and let them ruminate while you make something. Anything. And I hope you’ll share with me what you do make.