Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Five Things I Would've Told Myself as a Beginning Indie Writer

1.  Fanfiction has spoiled you, brah.

There are a lot of writers that have spent time writing fanfics, and a couple examples of folks taking their work and moving it into the questionable sphere of buyable goods and making a shit ton of moolah.  I feel kinda weird about that, but whatever, it's not actually why I would say this to my younger self.  The real reason is because having a fairly popular fic trained me to write for reviews.  It gave me a Pavlovian response that ended up backfiring, badly, when it helped contribute to an extra long Block of the Writer's variety.

I am still trying to unlearn this habit, and return to writing for the only audience I had when I was very, very young, and first wrote/drew at all: myself.

2.  Keep drawing.

For other people, this would be useless advice.  For me, it helps develop the worlds and characters I am writing about more than anything else--more than storymapping, more than outlines, research, claps on the back from my support circle.  It taps into the part of my mind that doesn't use words to make stories, and this is also the part of my brain that connects to characters in the first place.

3.  You're going to have to choose: be yourself, or be marketable.  Hint: Be yourself; you'll be happier in the long run.

I wish I had acknowledged this going in.  I think its something I did know, deep down, but I wanted to be liked, in the way most insecure people do.  I'm insecure.  I'm just another chick online, which is meaningless; in real life, I have my humor and experiences to shield me from the need to be cool, but here, in the jungles of Internet, it is really easy to feel super uncool in a way I haven't for literally decades.  I would tell myself, so what?  Don't sweat it.  Just be honest, Make Good Art, and get off the fricking computer.

4.  About that...  Get Off The Computer.  Now.

I spent this last week banned from my computer.  Whenever I've conceived of this plan, it seemed completely impossible; all of my music, all of my writing, all my everything is online.  I live in an isolating time zone and use email to communicate with my family; I live rurally so a lot of what I buy is found online.  How?  How could I possibly live without internet for a week?

Well, you can, and you will be lots happier (see #3 for why), so do it.  And invest in notebook paper, because you will be tearing through it.  That whole 'how will I write' bit is horseshit.  Pack it up.

5.  Wait to publish, never wait to write.

You have all the time in the world.  You should enjoy that marvelous feeling when you're actually done with a draft; you shouldn't rush publishing.  Ever.  Put it off, get some feedback, wait a week (offline), then pick at it again.  And write.  Write all the time, and write for no reason--write in a journal, write a letter.  Just write, and don't worry about what it will be when it's done being written.

And as a bonus: enjoy now.  As a genius once said, "the game of keeping what one has is never so exciting as the game of getting."