How to KNOW You’re Writing What You SHOULD Be Writing
Writing and publishing is a tough game these days. The good thing is that there are a ton of resources out there in internet-land, all ready to give you advice, feedback, and instruction on The Right Way and The Wrong Way to do things.
The bad news? There are a ton of resources out there in internet-land, all ready to give you advice, feedback, and instruction on The Right Way and The Wrong Way to do things.
It can be unnerving to keep going. You want to listen to your inner vision and follow your creative spirit, but you also want to be read by your desired audience.
Or do you? Maybe this should just be a passion project. Or maybe you should focus on short stories.
Or maybe you should just watch a few YouTube videos or scroll for cute animals on BoredPanda.
I’ve definitely been there–and I still get there sometimes! Part of seeing possibilities and creative insights means sometimes I need to put on a few filters to figure out exactly what I want to do. Here are four questions to help you!
4 PUSH Questions to Ask Yourself
1.) Passion! Am I excited about this story?
If not, you need to figure out why. Yes, there are times where you have to push through the doldrums of a project because you are tired or overwhelmed (this is called college), but the thing is? You shouldn’t make that a habit. Your excitement and passion will filter through onto the page. Passionate, enthusiastic writers have a far easier time finishing and promoting their projects. Fight for your excitement!
2.) Underlying Worldview! WHY am I excited about this story?
What about this story satisfies some part of your worldview? It doesn’t have to be big or momentous, but all stories have some kind of purpose and message, even if it’s just the value of escapism. Have you strayed from your purpose in this story to try and fulfill a genre convention or someone else’s opinions? Or are you trying show the way something should be? Maybe your worldview is “I really need the money, so I shall hold my nose and go for it.” Be honest with yourself. What is the reason this story has to get out there?
3.) Self-motivation! Am I ready to invest enough time and energy to get this story done?
Whether you’re going for self-publishing or traditional publishing, there are so many ways you can falter on the way to the finish line. Maybe you have to get up extra early or stay up later to get your word count in. Maybe you’re trying to balance the mental energy of revisions with the mental energy of your day job or helping your kids with homework. Maybe you’re waiting on sub, or you’re sending your third proof to your POD publisher of choice, hoping THIS ONE doesn’t have any typos. (I’m sorry to say, it probably does, but it isn’t your fault. They breed.)
Writing and publishing is a commitment. And sometimes, your hesitation is a sign that you’re committing energy to a project you aren’t as passionate about (which will lower your self-motivation). At other times, your self-motivation could be that you can’t commit energy to a project that you really are passionate about, so you’re settling for something that seems practical (you’d be amazed how ‘practical’ can be a buzzkill on creativity).
Or maybe you just need to refresh your brain with a new playlist, some fresh reading material, a walk, or a brainstorming session with friends. Find your motivation!
4.) Happiness Quotient! Is this story contributing meaningfully and purposefully to my overall happiness?
This is one of the most critical things to figure out, and it’s also a factor that is most personalized to you, because your happiness is different than everyone else’s. Quite simply, you start by answering the question:
To be happy in writing, I need _____________.
Here are a few examples of where your happiness quotient could be hiding.
- To be happy in writing, I need to focus on my in-person family and friends.
- To be happy in writing, I need to honor my specific beliefs closely in my fiction.
- To be happy in writing, I need to contribute a certain amount of money to the household income.
- To be happy in writing, I need to ignore genre conventions and purely express myself without trying to please anyone else.
- To be happy in writing, I need to sell a certain quota every month.
- To be happy in writing, I need to connect with readers every day.
The list can go on and on. You might notice a few conflicts above. If you need to connect with readers every day, but you also need to focus on your family and friends, you’ll need to decide which to prioritize (and figure out a good social media schedule). If you need to contribute a certain amount of money to the household income, but you also need to purely express yourself and ignore genre conventions, you might want to invest in a part-time job so that you can explore your creative art on your own terms.
Above all, figuring out if What You’re Writing is What You SHOULD Be Writing comes down to honesty with yourself and your PUSH. Self-awareness is key to effective writing and taking on the market, your way!
And part of my PUSH is helping you get that clarity and bring it into your pre-drafting, revisions, editing, and marketing work! Contact me for a free 1:1 consult!