If you’re an author you need other people to read your stuff. You need them to read your stuff for the money because a person must eat; for the approval because it’s nice occasionally to be reminded that you aren’t the only one who likes your stories; and for the wonderful, magical, life-affirming knowledge that somehow this story you dreamed in the privacy of your workroom helped and guided another person in the same way the books you’ve read have helped and guided you.
In fact, other people reading – and liking – your stuff is such a big part of an author’s life it can become a little addictive. It is very easy, especially in the idle hours when I’m not writing, to allow the thought of the reader to swell out of its natural proportion. So much seems to be riding on it that if I’m not careful I can soon come to believe that it’s all that matters, that whether other people like or don’t like my stuff, or how many people like or don’t like my stuff, is the very measuring stick of my entire creative life.
In these moments I have forgotten a very important part of a writer’s life: the writing. It's not just that no one can read my stuff if I haven’t written it, or that I can’t get paid if I haven’t written it, or that no one will be helped and guided by my stories if I haven’t written them – it’s that I have forgotten and disregarded the actual, moment-to-moment experience of writing. Not having written, but the writing itself, the conscious dreaming necessary to translate ideas into language.
Writing is an experience the same as making love is an experience, the same as visiting the Grand Canyon or going to a ball game are experiences, the same as reading a book is an experience. My entire life is comprised of nothing but experiences, and I’m the only one having them. If I don’t value those experiences, they become worthless, and I soon feel worthless, looking to sales numbers or hits or reviews for a reason to live. Every time I sit down to write, before a single word finds the page, I must remember not just why I write, but why I do anything. Let it be for the doing itself, for that is where I am, and that is where I will always find what I value.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.
Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence.
You can find William at: williamkenower.com