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Friday, 24 January 2014

The Writer’s Priorities. Part 1

We’re creative souls, we who write stories, not generally the disciplined and single-minded types for
whom regulation and habit overtake our free spirits to the exclusion of all else. No, those for whom self-discipline and ultra-focus are paramount are, generally speaking, business-minded; people for whom money is the primary concern. That’s not to say that these qualities are undesirable, simply that they’re not the most important elements of our make-up.

As artists (sorry if that term makes you uncomfortable, but perhaps you should be looking at your view of your role as a creative spirit?), we’re more organic, less easily defined by rules, more open to the bending and even the ditching of external influences on our behaviour.

So, where am I going with this?

Let’s face it, if we call ourselves writers, our first love, our primary drive, is writing: yes? If your answer to that is not ‘yes’ then I suggest you examine your reasons for placing words in specific order on pages. It may be that you’re an entrepreneur who’s spotted an opening in a market that just happens to involve the skill of writing. Perhaps you’ve seen the zillions paid for certain best-sellers, and identified a niche you could fill by writing the same story with different names and locations. It works. It’s been done countless times. But it doesn’t make you a writer; it makes you a businessman/woman.

Writers of fiction are more concerned with the words they present, the stories they tell, the effects of those compositions on their readers. Money, fame, success are all viewed as ancillary to the craft and inspiration of actually setting the right word in the right place. Imagination is the primary resource of the storyteller and the emotional punch of the story is the reward.

I’m not making judgments here. If the business approach suits you, that’s your choice. If, on the other hand, the role of the storyteller, the ancient role that started around the fire in the mouth of the cave as a way to explain the world and its wonders and terrors, drives you, then that is also your choice. Unfortunately, for those of us so inclined the world has moved into an era where the majority of the advice, help and support for writers is aimed at those for whom money is the major mover. Talent, it seems, is less valuable.

It’s very easy to be drawn into the world of marketing, promotion, advertising and generally concentrating on making ‘a living’. And, of course, we live in a world where making a living is paramount to mere survival, so the pressures are intense.

The issue then, for those of us who are essentially creative beings, is achieving a balance between making enough to allow us to survive and giving ourselves the freedom of thought and action that will nurture and develop our talents as tellers of tales.

I write this post as a taster only. As a way to introduce the idea that we may need to examine our priorities if we’re to lead full and rewarding lives as writers. For my personal approach, watch this space. I’ll provide my answers soon; just as soon as I’ve reached an actual conclusion, in fact!

And, for the time being, I ask you to consider just one question: 

Why do you write?
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