In an ideal world, our first book already made us bucketfuls of cash. We now write as a hobby. It’s something we do purely for self-fulfillment, content to create for the pure joy of it, unencumbered by the need for anyone else’s approval or patronage. If someone out there enjoys reading what we write, all the better. Any royalties coming our way are just a bonus. We write for fun.
But what about those of us living out here in the real world? Maybe we need money to survive, and even hope to make writing a full-time job someday. For me, sometimes saying ‘Oh, you know, I’m just writing for fun’ is an excuse for why my sales aren’t where I want them to be, or a lie to cover up my own insecurity. So what if you need to write for pay? Well then, for you, I have slightly different advice:
...Oh, wait, no I don’t. Write for fun.
Whatever your goals are as an author, writing for fun, or writing for the love of writing, is essential to your success, both personally and professionally. If you’re not having fun writing it, then no one is going to have fun reading it. When I’m not writing, I’m painting, and it is easy to tell which of my paintings I attempted with monetary gain as my sole focus. Because they’re in the trash. When I paint what I think people want to buy, or what happens to be trendy at the time, I end up feeling like a slave to the market, and the pieces never come out as well as they do when I’m painting with joy. The energy you put into a piece is the energy that will be there when it is received.
And for those of you who need something more scientific, this article entitled ‘A Positive Mood Allows Your Brain to Think More Creatively’ summarizes a study which found that, well, a positive mood allows your brain to think more creatively. Researchers manipulated volunteer subjects’ moods with happy or sad music and images, and then had them attempt to recognize certain patterns. The happy volunteers consistently outperformed those in a sad mood. I know I could use all the help I can get keeping all the plotlines and patterns in my novels straight and organized.
Writing is fun, but editing and querying and deadlines and everything having to do with the money side of things can be stressful. If your main goal is to make money--if money/fame/glory is at the forefront of your mind when you write--then you are not doing your best work. So don’t start your writing day thinking ‘Hey, I really need to make some money on a book today,’ because there are approximately zero readers out there starting out their day thinking ‘Hey, I really need to spend some money on a book today.’ A reader’s goal is not to lose money, it’s to lose herself in an amazing book that the writer obviously had a great time writing.
Your readers will reap what you sow. If you are bored and annoyed while writing, the reader will be bored and annoyed reading it. No fun for anyone. So give the readers what they want to pay for. Sow some fun, and maybe, you’ll reap some real-world rewards.
The Bear, The Box and the Boy (also available in bilingual English/Spanish, Russian, or Chinese) http://amzn.com/1502493136
The Girl Who Knew She Was a Princess http://amzn.com/1503321916
Follow her on Twitter: @Skipper_Bay