If you’re writing and it’s a blast, this article isn’t for you. But one day, it will be. Let me explain. A long time ago a couple states down from where I live now, I was a kid on fire for writing, suddenly obsessed with the art form. After school, I’d write for hours and would feel totally enthralled by it. If you’re a writer, you likely know what I’m talking about. It’s a catharsis like no other.
Over the years, writing never ceased being fun. I’d imagine writing in my head and later actually write it all out. There’s something about seeing worlds and character come to life on a page that is so exciting and entertaining. It’s just you and the characters and the world, all to yourself. No one else is allowed. For a long time, it was a safe space.
And then this thought appeared:
I wonder if someone else would want to read this?
Once you start thinking about the world beyond your own, something happens, something changes. It’s a fear inside you that maybe no one will like it or you’re not good enough or everything you’ve dreamed is old hat and doesn’t live up to the zeitgeist. But, you power through, hoping to sharpen and polish your worlds so that they’ll be deemed acceptable for the masses.
As time goes on, and you’ve finished other works, and decide to move on to more works, you become jaded. All you can think about is will my audience like this? Is this something that makes sense? Does this seem too cliche? Is this a big trope? Has this been done before? Is all this really boring?
Eventually, while writing your first draft, the overwhelming questions bury you and crush your spirit. When you wake up and think of writing, you instantly shut down, too tired and depressed to even feel motivated to go back to those worlds. You give up. Maybe you write a few hundred words here or a few hundred words there but overall, it just doesn’t do it anymore. The magic is lost.
If this sounds like you, here is how you make writing fun again.
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Stop thinking about others, think about yourself.
Yeah, I know, that sounds really self-centered and selfish. The statement only applies here to a first draft in progress. Not much else. This is your first draft. It’s your art. Even if you share it with others and become a massive success, it’s still your art. It always will be.
So before you share it and you’re working it all out and playing in imaginationland, then only think about what you like, what you want, what you need to make it work. Play. Have fun. Go nuts. Don’t ever think about what someone else will want. The moment that happens, you’re doomed. It’s the villain of imaginationland to think of what others want because then it ceases being your imagination. So, stop.
Start thinking about craft on the second draft.
Once the first draft is complete and you’re putting on your “editor” hat, only think about your craft. What does that mean? It means you’ll kill your darlings and go through your work with a fine tooth comb to figure out what you do and don’t want anymore.
This will still be fun because it’s still your sandbox. It’s still yours to play in. Again, go nuts. Have fun with it. Do what you have to make it what you want. Don’t get lazy. Play isn’t about being lazy. It’s about furious fun.
Open the doors when you’re good and ready.
Opening the doors and letting others into your world should only happen when you’re ready. This means you’ve exhausted all your creativity and done everything you can to make it what you want. Now it’s time to first start thinking about how this adds up to the world and letting others in on the world.
Once this happens, everything changes. You might find the work isn’t marketable or palatable to an audience. This is when you’ll have to make tough choices. Do you want to let an editor mold it to fit a publication? Do you want to let them tweak things so it reaches its maximum capacity?
The good news is your done. You’ve crossed the finish line. If you have the pleasure of an editor tweak and fix your work to meet a wide audience, then you’ve arrived. Bask in the glow.
Now, get back to having fun and start a new draft in imaginationland!