Do you ever read something you wrote and can’t find yourself in the words? Somehow you’ve disappeared under all the flowery language and flowing descriptions. Reading my own bad writing like that makes me want to curse just so I feel human again.
And I always know what happened. I gave into the pressure.
Small doses of pressure help you meet deadlines, keep you going when all you want to do is toss your laptop out the window. Too much pressure and you squish into something unrecognizable even to your own mother.
How do we resist the urge to give into it?
Pressure to Write a Certain Way to Sell More Copies/Get More Followers/Etc.
Don’t be too negative. Be yourself, but a better version. Write what you love. Write what you hate. Write like this, not that. This is selling well right now, write that.
Uh, what? So what do I write?
Forget all of that.
What do you want to write? If you don’t know the answer try this one: What do you want to read?
Write down your answer. That’s the book you write.
Don’t become someone else to sell books.
You start writing just to fit in or sell more or get more followers, your writing is going to reflect that. It’ll come off fake and stiff.
We’ve all read books that are cheap imitations of what someone else did successfully. You can almost feel the author adding up their book sales.
Think of another book that you do love. It’s real. It feels real. Fiction magnifies truth. The magic, characters, sometimes the setting, those are all imaginary. But the theme, the moral of the story is real. Universal truths. We love books, movies, songs, and art that deal in universal truths.
Writing something because it’s popular is cheating yourself and your audience. You have to believe in it or no one will.
Pressure to Change Your Process
Every time I turn around there’s another article on process. Writing process is important. But why has it become such a big deal?
Creating is messy. Your subconscious bounces from one thing to the next. The connections seem unrelated and random but you know how you went from A to D then back to B, on to W, and then back to A because you finally remembered where that train was headed.
Outlining, narrowing it down, fixing it. Those things are for later, when you’re ready to tell your story to the rest of the world.
Right now it’s just you, no outside judgment or interference. So, fuck it. Do. Create. Ignore everything else and go for it.
No matter what you do or how you do it, someone is going to bitch. There’s always that one person that isn’t happy unless there’s something to complain about. Forget that person. You aren’t writing for them. You’re writing for you.
Pressure to Appear “Normal” So as Not to be Judged
I’ve written things that were so dark, they scared me. I was worried about my own mental state and, more importantly, what my mom would think.
I fought it. Then I grew up a little bit and realized not only do I not care what people think, but that we all have weirdness and darkness inside of us. We all have a lot of different things in us.
Maybe writers have more weird and dark in them or maybe we’re just more in touch with those parts of us.
I believe this makes us healthier individuals. Facing darkness is always better than bottling it up. But that could be denial.
If you’re reaching for the backspace button because maybe it’s just a little too weird, stop. Leave it where it is. You’re scared because it’s a piece of you and it’s real. Making that piece vulnerable is good art. Scary as hell, but still good art.
Everyone has their demons, the dark places in our minds we visit only subconsciously and even then unwilling. Go there. Scared? Go anyway. That’s where the good stuff is. Great stories can come from the dark corners of your mind. They resonate with other peoples’ dark places. And, it’s a safe way for them to face their own demons, give them a slight nod before ignoring them again.
When pressure starts getting to you, remember why you wanted to write to begin with. Was it for other people or because it satisfies another need inside you? It’s easy to forget the reason why so it’s a good question to revisit over and over.
This writing thing is for you and if you keep doing it for you, you’ll be able to avoid the pressure. If you do it for others, for fame and money, the words will eventually leave you. You won’t remember why you’re doing it and you’ll forget what it’s like to do it for love.
Edit for readers. Write for yourself.