Monday, 30 April 2012

Writing or Publication?

Do you finish one story, grab your notebook, and look for the next? Or do you focus on promoting a single story or manuscript to gain publication?

There's plenty of us out here in the wilds of the Internet who look to become published authors. I'm one of them. However, a thought struck me the other day: What's more important? Money, being published, or the writing?

Many people focus lots of time and energy solely on getting published... How do I get published? When can I get published? When do I get the money? Agent? Reply time? And so on.

So, incentive. Why do you write? Do you want to be the person who has published a novel, with their name cut across a hardcover? Do you focus on getting paid? Being the best seller? Or is it about your character, your story, the message? Writing?

This has been knocking on the door of my thought-house for a while. When I was 25 I said to Past Allan, 'give it ten years, if you haven't had a story published, quit writing.' This has been an incentive for me AND an excuse. I've just turned 32 (I know, THE HORROR!) and still not published. It's became a negative. Never been paid for my writing. Well, I guess you need to send off your writing to get paid... So my fault right there... Yet I have written many stories. But should I give up in three years just because of missing my deadline?

I've enjoyed writing most of my little stories. That's been the real incentive I guess, the getting paid part hasn't really been the focus.

Motivation is key here, I guess. Over the years I've done a few courses, read lots of blogs and listened to people talk about writing. At the end of the day, lots of it was about either getting paid or getting published. Yep, there's been the writing part, but a large percentage of time goes into the clinical side of writing, not the fun part.

Mind you, there's also a good shout that getting paid can fuel more writing, creating time and pushing along those ideas and turning them into characters, plots and action. There's another good shout about just wanting to write stories - you have an idea, a story, and MUST write it - and finding ways to share it with others.

Honestly, I feel that if it just becomes about being published you may forget what makes that happen: a bloody good story and damn fine writing. Without that core, all the self promotion and sent manuscripts will be for nothing. And let's be honest, how much time goes into twitter, emailing and blogging compared to actual writing?

If it's about getting paid, beware of a similar fate - if the story has no emotion and is just a deadline and word count, well, will it really be good enough? Will you have the same pride looking back after spending all the money you were paid? If so, fair dos, at least you're honest!

Writing a story has a magic about it. I believe that this should not be forgotten. Write first, money second. If you write for a living, well, I get that it's about being paid, but make it about the characters and story and not just about the deadline. Like anything in a workplace, have pride in your work. Please don't be soulless, theres too much of that about these days. I think the readers will thank you for it, and you may well enjoy the process that little bit more.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. Interesting post. I think if you want to get paid for writing something, particularly fiction, then you have to put your heart and soul into it anyway. Otherwise why would anybody want to read it. An interesting piece of aadvice I read by Joe R Lansdale the other day was: write like all your family and friends are dead; in other words, don't worry about what they might think or try and write for other people. Just write for yourself.

  2. Cheers for the advice Ken. There's definitely truth in that! I think when I wrote this I was thinking about the time that goes into worrying about getting published before you are published. At times there seems to be more effort and focus put into the how to get published rather than writing a good story!. Maybe I was a bit harsh on authors who have put their heart and soul into their writing - from those I've met, and those I read and hear about, I'm guessing 99% of writers do focus on the writing... That's why they have novels published! Cheers for the comment.