A Nasty Problem of Early Writers…

I hear this all the time. Writers, especially indie writers the last few years, have focused on the finished product. And I must admit, that is how we keep score in this new world. Numbers of books and stories equals more readers and more money and so on.

But in most of our workshops, except a few of the business ones, we focus on the process of writing. To long-term professionals, the process of writing is where the focus is, or at least in a balance on both sides.

We would all have not made it for 40 or more years of writing without that focus.

I made a comment about this in response to a question on one of the posts the last few days. But the reason it came up was because someone, in a private letter, took me gently to task because I tell people to not care about the book once it is done. They were honestly worried I was giving bad advice.

The truth? Yup, I do say for people to stop caring so much about the finished product, and I honestly don’t much care about my books or stories once they are finished. My job in all this is in the creating of stories.

And always over my lifetime, I had trouble with Heinlein’s Rule #4. I would often write a story, drop it on my desk, and find it years later in one of my bi-annual clean-ups. So I am always climbing back onto Rule #4.

To me, once a story is done, I want to write another one, so why bother with that old one? Deadlines and rule structures like Heinlein’s Rules help me get my books and stories out.

Now most beginning writers find this idea that the finished product is not the goal an alien concept. No long-term writers find it alien, but all beginners do. The product at the end is what is important to them.

And thus we get the “work” issues and the fear of not finishing issues and the fear of the product not being perfect and the excessive rewrite issues and… and….

You know, all the issues that stop you cold.

All because your focus is on the finished product, not the process.

But Dean…

Yeah, I know, the finished products are how we keep score in the indie world. We just finished a pop-up workshop called “The Game” where productivity is a major factor of success.

But the key is how to get to the productivity? How do you get to those discoverability points of twenty or thirty novels?

The key is what I have been talking about this last week in posts.

How? How has a person like me become one of the most productive writers working if I don’t care about the final product?

Simple, I care and love the process of creating that product. I do the best I can when I am writing every time. I never write sloppy, I honor my creative voice, I write one draft clean and I keep hungry to learn. So when I reach the end of a story or novel, both me and the creative voice are done with the story.

So to me the creative process, the writing of the story or book, is the fun part, the part I desire. I love the process. So I want to do more of it and thus I end up being very productive.

I play one story at a time, story after story after story.

People like me are writers. Writers are people who write.

People who say they hate writing but love having written are authors, not writers. And they tend to vanish after a few years.

So Change The Focus…

And the attitude.

When I tell someone to go have fun, I mean start to think of the writing process as fun. When your writing process is fun, then all the life issues tend to isolate themselves away from your writing. Your writing becomes the fun place to escape to.

Many of us, when young, escaped from bad family situations by reading, living in other worlds. That’s why I loved science fiction so much. It not only got me out of that horrid basement I lived in, but off this stupid planet where I wouldn’t have to go to Vietnam.

Reading became my escape and when I got around to starting to write and got past the myths, I turned the writing into the same feeling.

I can escape by writing, even though I love my life right now. I also love escaping, so I write my own escapes.

I love the process of writing because I have got out of the myths that told me writing had to be painful, hard work, and not fun. The myths tell us over and over, from trying to write the “Great Novel” to indie production schedules, that the final product is all that counts.

Well, in my opinion, the final product isn’t that important at all. And focusing on the final product is what kills more great books than I can count. And makes writers miserable.

What really is important is the fun of writing fiction, entertaining yourself, escaping into your own worlds. That is a ton of fun.

So, simply, go have fun.