There is a split second before a writer sits at his/her laptop, desktop or pen poised to write in their notebook–where they doubt themselves. Not their story because in their mind it is pure brilliance but themselves and whether they will be able to do justice to their characters.
As much as many writers say that their only priority is to write for themselves and to write for their characters, there is a major part of them–say 60% of their mind–that is solely focused on wanting to captivate a wide readership.
We write not only for our characters but for the readers.
Readers have the most power over our work and some know it, others don’t. I once listened to a co-worker completely decimate a book series based on the fact that they were not a believer in certain parts of the story. It wasn’t as “badass” as they wanted it to be, so because it wasn’t to their liking, they not only completely insulted the story line but also the author. Saying she seems desperate and must be making up for something she lacks in her own life.
The rest of my day was spent wondering how I’d feel if someone somewhere was having that very same conversation about me and my books. My early books were not as good, story-wise it had merit but grammar and editing-wise it wasn’t 100% because I did not have the resources and the ability to find people who could look at it objectively. Sure, now I could re-write them or edit them, however I did not want to. Simply because it reminds me of how much I have grown as a writer. I will continue receiving my 1 star and bad reviews–that’s okay, because one day I will write something that will be worthy of featuring on lists and book-sites etc.
Here’s what happens:
- The writer gets a kickass idea. It plays out in his/her head throughout the day like a movie.
- The writer then grabs a notebook and their favorite pen/pencil and starts outlining ideas.
- The writer either seeks out their trusted critic to explain his/her idea or they begin extensive research hoping and praying their idea doesn’t match any other stories already told.
- The writer spends days and sometimes weeks jotting down various ideas, trying to write a chapter or two, while simultaneously wondering whether the readers would accept the story or not.
- 5/10 times a writer realizes that their story might be similar to ones before it. Some of them find the courage to tell the tale in a completely different way, while others keep the idea for a time when the hype or novelty of the already published one dies down. It takes a very long time to convince a writer that an outline can be similar but the plot could be drastically different.
- The writer, while trying to focus on getting the best story out there, has to think on other things like the perfect synopsis–what will captivate the reader? What would make someone want to one-click my book?
- After writing and re-writing the synopsis the writer then thinks about the cover. What would portray my story? Do I want a person or an object? I don’t have the funds to obtain a photographer or a cover designer, so how do I do this on my own and make mine stand-out? (Note: while thinking of synopsis and cover, the writer is still trying to shape their story).
- The writer must build their readers’ excitement and keep the interest in their upcoming work. This usually happens with the help of Social Media. Let me tell you something about Social Media… There are a lot of successful writers on there. Writers that produce books within weeks and months. Sometimes, you are not the kind of writer that can write within a month or even a year. Then come the writers that love to mention their word count. Some word counts you cannot reach. Simply because you think your story is complete in 30 000 words.
- The finished stage. The writer has his/her synopsis, cover and book complete. They give their book to someone to edit or try to edit themselves. If luck would have it, editing would go well, or in some cases the story can change completely. That takes time, effort and self-doubt.
- Then it comes time to let the baby leave the nest. In today’s day and age you cannot just publish your book and expect people to buy it. Nope. You gotta give out free copies to attract readers. You have to attract book reviewers because readers these days rely on comments before taking a chance on a book.
- Finally your release date is here. You publish. Then you start the process all over again for the next book.
That is what any artist goes through. We have an idea. We bleed. But then we must be careful of how much and the way in which we bleed. We must be mindful that although we have a dream, as much as we achieve it, the people who are complete strangers to us have the power to keep us going on the path.
But we try. We must.
Because part of dreaming is waking up.