Attitude Is Important
Now we’ve examined critical voice and fear, let’s look at ways to beat them back. They can’t be defeated. You’ll never be rid of them. It’s worse than a whack-a-mole game, but you can manage your critical voice and fears.
It’ll take a shift in attitude.
When we’re young and are first introduced to stories, books seem unbelievably large and complex. How does the author know how to foreshadow? How did this book move me emotionally?
Books, when given emotional weight, become important to the reader. Long-term writers have tricks to deepen the emotional impact. The best writers know what readers want, and deliver. Pay your dues, practice long enough, and you too will know what your audience wants, and figure out ways to keep them invested in your stories.
But that’s not truly what’s important.
Many early stage writers believe their writing is important. They’ll change the world with their stories. Sweep people off their feet. Invoke religious experiences in their audience. I believed some of that myself once. Not anymore.
Your novel is not that important. Neither is mine.
Perhaps we can argue that stories save lives. Maybe. I have a short list of novels that have affected me so deeply as to change my outlook on life. The problem with that argument is that storytelling is a subjective art. One’s happy place is another’s poison. No two people experience the same story in quite the same way.
But are novels curing cancer? No.
Solving world poverty? Nope.
Ending war? I only wish.
What does a novel do then?
Well, it entertains. Amuses. Makes people laugh or cry or fall in love. That’s a small thing, to share your voice and vision with an audience and give them a little escape for a moment, whether the audience is one person or worldwide.
When I write a novel, I seek only to entertain myself. If I can do that, my stories have a chance of entertaining others as well. But my first audience is always me, and just me. I never consider the novel important.
Novels can never be important. Down that road lies ruin.
If the novel becomes important, pretty soon it becomes work. Tedious work, that’s hard and you have to suffer for it, and every word is a strain… Uh oh…
Sounds stressful, doesn’t it?
Don’t make the writing itself important. Make the time you carve out for writing important, but not the writing itself. The writing has to be fun, otherwise the promise of someday writing a novel remains just that.
I’ll talk some about time management and finding time in your day (we all have time, even with full time jobs and kids and…). But here I want to make clear this attitude shift you need to make. Go play and have fun in your created universe, but defend the time you devote to writing with an iron fist. Enlist your family and friends to help you defend that time, and go off on your own to play make-believe every day.
Never make the writing itself important. It’s just stories, written with little black codes on the white page. Nothing more.
Attitude is important. Attitude will make or break you in many aspects of life. Keep your attitude to writing positive. Focus on having fun. Never tell people you need to “work on your novel”. Say you need to write instead. But refrain from calling writing work.
When you see writing as work, the joy gets sucked out fast.
If writing is fun, you’ll want to return to it often.
Copyright 2015 David Anthony Brown
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