Artistic Freedom Part Two…
Yesterday I talked about the wonderful artistic freedom this new world gives writers.
If, and only if, the writer takes the freedom and even knows how to recognizes the freedom.
I got a number of questions, mostly in e-mails, about what I meant by not writing to market in that post.
In short, writing to market means thinking that writing something you have heard is selling well only because you want to make money.
In other words, you write into areas you don’t know, don’t even much like, or even like to write, just for the hope of a few more sales.
Horrid writer death that way. Horrid and slow and painful.
I am watching it happen over and over to so many writers at the moment.
(And sadly some of them know it and feel trapped.)
Way back in a time when traditional publishing still held a slight glimmer of hope for a writer (2013), I wrote a chapter in one of my Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing books about this topic. (You can still read all the original blogs up under the tab at the top of my site.)
Thinking you need to write for money to make it is a huge, huge myth.
In that post I talked about editors directing what was hot, but now indie writers don’t have editors to tell them what is hot and what is not. Indie writers have something now much, much worse.
They have the rumor mill.
The rumor mill is other indie writers who look down at a writer if they are not chasing the new fad in promotion, in topic, in Facebook pixels or some such thing. These kinds of attitudes are deadly and hard for many writers to resist.
So out the window goes all artistic freedom. And the writer finds themselves writing into areas they don’t even read for pleasure.
Or spending far too much time on some sort of promotion that doesn’t fit who they are as a person.
Something that is good for one writer can be death to another. Writers are not all the same.
Artistic freedom is something we are now all given. But sadly, most writers won’t take it.
Why? Because taking it sometimes means fewer sales.
Taking artistic freedom in your work means you have to have a long-term vision for your career beyond next summer.
Taking artistic freedom means you have to actually be in touch with yourself and admit what you like to read and what you would love to write. And I don’t mean admit it to your friends or partner, but to yourself.
And taking artistic freedom with your writing career means understanding what you can and can’t do as far as promotion, production, and business. And then finding your way, not someone else’s way, to get around the blocks.
There is a really simple and basic guideline on all this.
If you bring marketing for any reason into your writing while you are creating, you are making a long-term mistake.
I don’t care what some young writer who happens to be making a few bucks right now says.
And if you are arrogant enough to think that you can be a prostitute with your writing for a short time and then go back, you might want to think that through.
Very few of us ever returned to our own writing from that ugly position.
I know, I did it. Took me almost fifteen years and I have still not completely recovered yet, which is why I write these articles like this.
My career was dead completely in 2005. I had spent far, far too long writing for money while pretending I wrote what I love. And sometimes I did write what I love with Star Trek, Men in Black, Spider-Man and so on.
And often I wrote only for money. Ghost books, a novelization of a Medona movie, and so on.
And I will never get parts of my soul back from those books. And the road back to being able to accept artistic freedom and regain my own voice has not been easy.
Do as I say, not as I did. Cherish the artist freedom this new world gives you.
Don’t squander it.