I have written eight books in three years—sure a few were novellas—but EIGHT BOOKS. It’s a lot more than I ever thought I would write. The only way I did it was by writing. Every day, butt in the chair writing, whether I felt like it or not. Whether everything I wrote was a POS or not (much of it was).
But here’s the thing, after eight books it’s getting harder to get my butt in that chair.
You’d think it would be easier. I’m published now, but…
With eight books comes a lot of hope, a lot of fear, a ton of rejection, a growing posse of fans and readers and surprisingly even more of the question: SHOULD I BE DOING THIS?
I think my books are awesome. I thought they were awesome five years ago when they were getting rejected all over the place. I *still* think they are awesome- but as more rejection, bad reviews and sales numbers roll in I wonder if they are awesome enough.
I wonder if I am.
As writers we put ourselves “out there” in a way few artists do. When people don’t like or ignore our work it hurts in our hearts. It has the ability to break us.
Some days, I will admit I do feel broken. Some days, all I want to do is eat chocolate and cry.
Some days I don’t, but even now the nagging this is good but not good enough feeling hasn’t left me.
There are simple things you want as a writer: We want other people to read our work. We want other people to want it. We want to feel like we aren’t just screaming into an empty canyon that doesn’t even have the decency to echo back.
So what happens when you get to a place where you feel like these things aren’t happening?
How do you keep writing day after day? Submitting? Putting yourself out there, when what you’re getting back is “I love you, but I’m not IN LOVE with you.” Or worse, “I think we should just be friends.”
Where do you get the strength to keep going?
For me, it comes from being excited about what I’m writing.
Not just being excited, but being IN LOVE. Other people may not love it, or me, but as long as I’m writing something that means something to me, that I feel matters, or that I have fun writing that’s enough. In the end—and I can tell you this because I’ve been through this almost ten times—the writing, the creating, the joy you get making yourself smile or cry at something one of your characters says or does is the best part.
I need to say that again: Your process is the best part.
Don’t get me wrong. Seeing your manuscript as a book is amazing, getting great reviews is a huge high, but the only thing that consistently can make you happy and fulfilled as a writer is writing for yourself and no one else.
If you write what you think others will like, or what you think you can sell, it will always feel like a grind. It will eventually disappoint you. It will probably not be enough to keep bringing you to the laptop every day.
There may be a day where I can’t do it anymore. There may be a day where you can’t. That scares me more than anything, but for now the way I feel when I’m writing and it is flowing is what will keep me coming back to the blank page.
The need to fill blank pages will keep me coming back. I hope it does the same for you.
Lisa writes Young Adult and New Adult Fiction. She is the author of Pretty Amy, The Next Forever, Dear Cassie, Sneaking Candy, The Possibility of Us and Again, as well as a contributor to the essay collection, Break These Rules: 35 YA Authors On Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats.