This was a tough one for me to accept and it took about four years and a LOT of writing projects which have not gone anywhere for me to finally process.
So, I felt the subject warranted a blog post.
It is tough to think that a lot of writing projects won’t go anywhere but it is sadly true. For the average writer some of their projects will be deleted before they even get going, some won’t get further than the first chapter, some will never be finished, some won’t survive the first round of beta reading, some will spend the rest of eternity languishing in a folder, some will be recycled into future stories, some will be rewritten and a select few will be sent out. Out of these some will be rejected, some might enter the realms of traditional publishing or some might make it as self published novels.
You will spend a LOT of time asking yourself whether its worth being a writer. Why put yourself through all the misery of writing story outline after outline, draft after draft and then having to do it all over again with something new, because the premise never really worked and your characters were lousy?
Here’s how you work this one through.
Every story you write has a purpose.
Every story you create has a job to do and a lot of the time it has nothing to do with being sent out to a literary agent or publisher.
A story will do one of the following for you:
- It will challenge you. Once you finish this story you will be ready to write bigger and better things.
- It will lead the way to something else. I’m only just starting to see the magic with this. Stories branch out into other stories. Sometimes you have to write one story in order to get to the next. For example, sometimes you have to write a story to stumble upon an amazing minor character and then realise at the end that your minor character needs to be in a story all by himself or herself.
- It will bring back your love of writing. Sometimes we just need to lose ourselves in a story for a few months to feel passionate again about writing.
- It will teach you something. My current W.I.P. is busy teaching me all about the value of going back and working on something.
- It will force you to change your writing processes. One of my recent stories forced me to start plotting and planning. I don’t think I will ever go back to writing 70k words in a matter of weeks, with no plot or plan ever again.
- It will point out your weaknesses. You will either ignore them or do something about them.
- It will give you writing confidence to write something better.
- It will create material which you will end up recycling into future stories.
- It will enable you to give birth to special characters, who might not be cast right for this story, but who will show up in future stories and be a rising star!
- It will teach you about rejection and the querying process. Some of the stories we write have to be simply sent out and rejected.
- It will be your first self publishing guinea pig.
- It will test your love of writing by bringing you to your knees and making you cry like a baby over a moon crater sized plot hole.
- It will allow you to experiment with a new genre.
- It will allow you sample writing from a new point of view.
- It will help you work through a painful life experience.
- It will go out into the world and it will light someone up inside. They could be someone reading for pleasure, an influential book blogger, an editor, a commissioning editor, a marketing assistant at a publisher, a literary agent, a minor celebrity, someone who is going through a tough time and can relate to your story, someone who you used to work with or even someone from your family. It doesn’t matter on who it was, your story’s job was to light someone up.
- It will fail. Your story’s purpose was to simply fail. This teaches us so many things, if we choose to look at why it failed. We have to write a few of these.
I could go on with my list but you have probably got better things to do.
Once you see that every story has a purpose, your writing life becomes a lot easier. Trust me on this. My writing life is a different world now. If things don’t work out with a story, try thinking about what its purpose was.
The only tricky part is not knowing at the start, when you put a pen to paper, what your story’s purpose is. These mischievous little fictional things like to keep us on our toes. Sigh!
I hope you all have a wonderful day.
Take care, writers.