by Randall C. Fraser
Many writers quit–or at least give it serious consideration–because they lose sight of the joy it brings. I believe, too often, we focus on our rejections or lack of accolades, especially with regards to publishing. We get stuck on the outcome and are unable to revel in the creative process. I’m not saying publishing is an unworthy goal, quite the contrary, but it’s important not to lose your perspective along the way. If you’re making a living as a writer, obviously publishing contracts are crucial. However, not everyone has a burning desire to publish, nor should they. I also realize that sometimes writing is just hard work, but if it’s not fun anymore, should you be spending all the time and effort writing well demands?
Creating a new work of fiction usually means telling ourselves a story for the first time. For me, this is where I find a considerable amount of joy. It’s one of the most exciting and gratifying experiences I’ve ever known. When a story epiphany strikes it can be a powerful motivator to write–I can’t wait to discover what’s around the next corner. However, one of my friends loves honing his manuscript—getting it just right. No matter where you find your writing joy, I hope you recognize it as a wonderful gift and never take it for granted.
Working on my craft is important even if I’m only writing for myself. As the quality of my work improves, so does my satisfaction. I’m not just talking about the feedback I get from peers, but rather the knowledge that I’m improving, making better writing decisions. I like to re-read last year’s work, using it as a yardstick of my growth as a writer. Do my newer plots flow better? Do I notice fewer word echoes, commonplace verbs, and purple pros? Are my characters more developed and believable? Am I telling less and showing more? Try it. I suspect most of you will notice a significant difference as well.
Sometimes though, we need to take a break or change directions entirely. I found out recently that a member of our critique group has decided to take a writing sabbatical. Ultimately, each of us must decide the best way to invest our time and energy. In her case, I’m certain the decision was well considered. Hopefully, she’ll get some rest, read a lot of great books, and eventually rekindle her creative joy. In the meantime, I’m certain her fans, including all of us in the group, will miss her voice.