When I wrote my first book I had one goal in mind: finishing. The story was fun and engaging for me. I enjoyed every minute I spent scrawling out sentences in my notebook or typing furiously on the computer.
But something changed after penning that first novel. I entered the world of submissions. Of agents and publishers and synopses and query letters. And, of course, the dreaded rejection letters.
Once I started submitting, I found it difficult to write a new book. I longed for the rush I had while writing my first one, and that wasn’t happening. Instead, it felt like a chore, a task; it felt like work.
I was no longer writing for the pure enjoyment. I was writing with a different goal in mind: to secure a publishing deal. I was desperately trying to come up with a unique, marketable plot. I would hurriedly write three chapters and a blurb and send it off, then start brainstorming a new idea. It became less about writing and more about getting published.
Needless to say, years went by without a publishing deal. And I never found my niche; my genre. I just kept trying to play to the fads and trends.
Then Twilight came out, and I began devouring YA fiction. That’s when I wrote PROWL, and I knew I had found my niche. I loved writing that book. It felt a lot like that first novel. But once again, it didn’t sell.
So, I self-published it.
And it did okay. Not great. Nothing earth shattering. Just okay. But the amazing part is that it opened up a new world to me. A world with readers. A world with other indie authors. A world with the freedom to write what I wanted.
This began a five-year journey of writing full time. In that timeframe I rarely, if ever, suffered from writer’s block. I always wrote what I wanted and I loved every second of it.
Then something happened.
I stopped making the money I had gotten used to making.
So I had to reassess; make some new and different choices. One of those choices was submitting and ultimately signing with a publisher. It was a dream come true, and I know it’s what’s necessary right now. The indie market isn’t what it was. It’s not sustainable anymore.
But I’ve found that I’m losing my enjoyment. I’m losing my attention span. I AM actually suffering from writer’s block. I’m back to where I was six years ago. And I don’t like it. I miss the rush of writing what I want. I miss falling in love with my characters. I miss writing for the pure fun of it. But I also want to stay in this business. I don’t want to give up as so many in the indie community have done lately.
I recognize that this is a business. And in business you have to do what you have to do. I’m not complaining. I’m so blessed to have my dream job. I’m blessed by my readers and by the writing community.
I’ve just been thinking a lot lately about the difference between writing for love and writing for money. And I’ve come to the conclusion that you always have to do both. Unless you are only writing for yourself, you DO have to write something marketable. There are certain “formulas” that work better than others. I’m not saying that you can’t be unique or creative in your style or execution. But I’m learning in my own writing that there are some tried and true tropes and formulas that work, and there’s no shame in using them. However, you do need to like what you’re writing.
The truth is that deep down I’m a thriller writer. I love writing dark thrillers. I would write them exclusively if I could. But they don’t sell as well as my sweet romances do. Even so, I will periodically write one. They’re more for me than anything, but some ideas I can’t walk away from.
However, since this is my business I can’t do that too often. Most of the time I have to stick with what sells. But I do always add some aspect of mystery in all of my romances.
As an artist, we are creative. We like to think outside of the box. And there is something so magical about the thought of doing our own thing. About writing what makes us happy. About writing something unique and different and entirely our own. But the reality is that everything has been done before.
Starving artists are a real thing, and I don’t want to be one.
So I’ll write to the market. I’ll write to the trend. I’ll write for my editor. I’ll write for my readers.
And I’ll find a way to love what I write.