August has been a pretty awesome month. But in the midst of it all, one thing has been neglected: my writing. It’s not only because I’ve been out of town, and packing, and moving, and unpacking. A lot of it is because I’ve been hit with the big monster that is doubt.
I’ve been querying my first novel since January, and frankly, I can’t complain about how it’s going. It’s had its ups and downs, but I’m still in the game and there’s a lot of hope. But I’ve realized something: querying has led me to think about writing for publication, not just for my love of it. As a result, I’ve been second-guessing my new WIP’s premise–doubting whether it’s good enough–and instead of embracing the $hi*ty first draft, I’m judging everything I write. Before querying, I was able to put thoughts of publication out of my mind because I wasn’t at that step yet. Now I am, and it’s hard to ignore that while drafting a new manuscript.
It’s not good. Sure, I want to write another publishable manuscript, but I know that I can’t keep thinking about all that stuff while I draft. I need to focus on the story, not whether an agent or editor will like it, or whether it fits into the market. But how do I turn off my “query brain” while drafting?
Luckily for me, the writing community is full of inspiration and wisdom. The below blog posts and tweets were exactly what I needed to read, so I’m sharing them with you, in case you’re facing similar struggles.
My advice to young writers trying to get published is not to worry so much about publishing. Worry more about writing. You have a lifetime to publish; right now you have the opportunity to write and write and write without the constraints of publishing. You can learn without having the stuff you learn follow you around in print. There is world enough and time for publishing. I always (still!) try to put writing first and publishing second.
I usually delete more than 75% of my first drafts when I’m revising. So I try to find out the bones of the story in that first draft and then tear it down and build it back up in future drafts once I have a sense of what needs to happen.
- From agent Anita Mumm in this WriteOnCon post:
So my advice is this: write the novel that has been percolating in your head for years, or that came to you in a mind-blowing dream last night, or that was sparked by an obscure headline at the back of last week’s paper. These are the stories that come from that mysterious realm of inspiration that has nothing to do with logic or planning or marketing. And they’re also the novels that break out, because readers can feel the spark.
- From author Shannon Messenger’s post, In which I go into cheerleader mode:
We also know how much timing and luck can play into getting an agent or a book deal, and that whether you have one is NOT a reflection of your talent. All it means is that you’re still on your journey, and we are here to cheer you on as you get there.
- From writer Jodi Kendall’s inaugural post as a YA Muse:
Ultimately, my dream is to become a children’s book writer, but whether or not I land an agent with this new manuscript, score a publishing deal, see my book in print, or win a slew of awards, the process of writing is enough for me. It has to be. It must blossom from a place of love. Writing well is too hard and too personal for it to only be about an end game.
- From Twitter:
Repeat after me: there is no such thing as a single road to publication. Every path is different and comparison will murder sanity. — Victoria Schwab (@veschwab)
I thought about quitting after shelving “the book of my heart”; the very next ms got my first agent and first sale. #keepgoing — DahliaAdler (@MissDahlELama)
Dreams are meant to be chased. Hopes are meant to be fulfilled. Give yourself permission to be WHATEVER you want to be. — Tameka (@cocoaellewoods)
This weekend, I plan to dive back into my new WIP and write new words. I’m going to try to just wear my “writer hat” and focus on the story. Because it’s not only about publication. I write because it brings me joy. More than anything, I want to get back to that place. Wish me luck!