Friday 20 February 2009

WRITING TIPS: Creating Beyond Need

I've been thinking about writing goals and query letters and being published. Why, when we only reach a smaller word count then we'd aimed for in our daily writing, do we feel guilty? Why do we place such importance on an agent’s response to a query letter? And why do we feel that we aren’t “An Author” unless we’re published?

Why can't we be proud that we've done something, which is much more, and much better, than doing no writing at all?

I think it's because we live in an age of quantity. The media shapes us with the notion that larger, faster, and more are often synonymous with better. We're told that we need to find more time, more possessions, and more everything to be truly happy.

However, do we ever stop to think that a smaller quantity of anything, but one which is high in quality, will almost always be more satisfying? Surely, one fulfilling writing experience can eclipse many empty moments of not writing.

It’s not the quantity of writing that matters, but the quality that we experience during each moment of doing what we love to do. Every minute is an opportunity to develop confidence and self-respect, and exhibit courage by actually writing, rather than just talking about it.

Quality can make life sweeter. When we focus on quality, all our writing, and our life, experiences can become truly meaningful. Often, in the pursuit of quantity we cheat ourselves of quality and forget that, ultimately, it's not how much we write or do each day, but what we make of each moment that counts.

Instead of worrying about successes and failures, let’s just celebrate every word we write, whether one or one thousand, whether published or not. Let’s see every rejection letter as a badge of courage, for telling stories is our dream and writing for the joy of it can only make the quality of our lives better.


Davin Malasarn said...

This is a beautiful reminder, Ann. Thank you. I find that when I am honest and specific about my writing goals, I actually am much closer to what I want to reach than when I try to follow what everyone else says is good.

Ann Victor said...

hi Davin! Great to see you here and welcome to the blog!!

And you are *so* right about being honest with oneself rather than following what everyone else says. It's the only way to keep your story authentic.

Marty said...

Ann, I agree with you to a point... indeed, "writing well" is the most critical part of our endeavor. However, when we have "written well" sharing our work with others becomes critically important too.

I am the author of a GREAT screenplay. This screenplay is not great because I wrote it; the story (based on an ancient text) is itself, GREAT. Not having the means to share this GREAT story with others is painful to me.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to share something GREAT with a grateful world. We write, not only for ourselves, but in order to share our stories with others.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Ann,

Nice post. It is exactly how I've been thinking lately. The whole point is to enjoy ourselves and hopefully entertain others- not beat ourselves up for what we don't accomplish.


Ann Victor said...

Marty, you do raise a good point.

Yes, I do want to share my writing with others. And, yes, I do want validation that my writing has meaning to others as well as myself. Yes, I do want to be published. All these and more are an essential part of what keeps me going after the rejection slips.

However, what I was trying to work through in my mind here is to not have these goals as THE goal of writing. To say to myself that those are great if they happen, but that my joy, my sense of satisfaction, must come from the fact that I'm actually doing what I need to be doing.

I need to write; the others are "wants" or desires, and by focusing on them and not the joy of writing for its own sake, I'm allowing the current culture of success uber alles to detract from my real success: that I'm writing the stories I must write.

And all that, I'm sure, is far more then you wanted or needed to hear!!! :) Thanks again for opening a great discussion!

Ann Victor said...

Nancy - yes, it's important to still love our writing, and lately I've been so stressed about not being publsihed yet that I forget about the sheer joy of just getting those words on paper!

septembermom said...

Ann, thank you for these encouraging words about the true rewards of writing. As a beginning writer with probably numerous rejections ahead of me, I will try and enjoy my quiet writing time and celebrate my "success" when I complete a story to my satisfaction. Whether I get published or not, I should still feel proud of what I accomplished by putting pen to paper.

Ann Victor said...

SeptemberMom - you must absolutely feel proud of yourself for putting pen to paper. That alone takes so much courage. So enjoy the fun of the writing process! :)

Marilyn Brant said...

Amen, Sister! :)

I remember reading in Elizabeth Berg's book for writers, Escaping Into the Open, that initially she only wanted to be published see her byline in some publication, even a small one...then she got that and soon realized that, no, that wasn't ALL she wanted...

I think the writing life can be insatiable that way if we let it. There's always some bigger goal out there, which sometimes prevents us from remembering what it was like to just enjoy the process of creating.

Ann Victor said...

MARILYN - insatiable is a good (great!) word to use in this connection.

And I think once our writing goals begin to "devour" us, the joy in the creation process is lost.