Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What kind of writer do you want to be?

Stephanie here.

Back in October, I had the joy of going on a writing retreat with Jill Williamson and Shannon Dittemore.
Jill, me,and Shan out for a scenic lunch break
Shannon picked me up at the airport in Sacramento, and we enjoyed a few hours in the car as we drove to Lake Tahoe to meet Jill at the hotel. We talked about all kinds of things but predominately writing and the business and our "how I got published" stories. I shared some frustrations of mine and Shannon shared hers, and then she said something that's reverberated in my heart ever since.

After talking about friends who have churned out book after book or who are writing in genres they don't enjoy, Shan said, "I had to ask myself, 'What kind of writer do I want to be?'"



This is a brilliant question, friends. Because here's the thing about getting published—the desperation can make you nutty. That's why there are vanity presses out there who pretend to be real publishing houses and routinely talk writers into handing them thousands of dollars for nothing. Because the desire to get your hand stamped by a publisher, to be validated as a "real writer," can make a person do crazy things. Heck, it can (and has!) make me do crazy things.

I've asked myself Shannon's question a lot these last few months, and it's really helped me to sort through that sensation of, "I'm not doing enough!" or, "I'm not doing this the way that successful writer over there is." 


So I'll ask it of you today. What kind of writer do you want to be? What genre of books do you love to write? What age group? How many books do you want to write each year? What do you want your writing time to look like? Do you want writing to be your job? Your hobby? Your ministry?

To be sure, there are compromises worth making on the road to being published. But you'll do yourself a big favor if you figure out ahead of time what you're flexible on and what you're not.

21 comments:

  1. This is what I needed today, Mrs. Morrill. I've been feeling very unmotivated lately to finish edits on Illusion, but now I can tell myself I'm going to get this book done because I love writing fantasy and I love my characters and I'm going to enter that writing contest this year. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

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    1. Good for you, Linea! And when Shannon asked me that question, it was exactly what I needed too!

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    2. Oh, wow. We have similar titles, Linea. The book I'm rewriting right now is called Illusions, but it's sci-fi. :P It's a tentative title, though.

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  2. I can't imagine myself doing anything else in my life other than writing. I have a huge passion for fantasy and dystopia, my characters, and the worlds I create. :) To me it doesn't matter how long it takes me to write one of my novels, though I sometimes have to push myself to continue them. Some are done in a month (Nanowrimo) and others over a year. Thanks so much for this wonderful article.

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  3. Echoing others thoughts, I too have a great passion for fantasy, and I love creating characters and worlds where the opportunities are boundless. Writing is part of my soul, and it is something I want to do for the rest of my life. Thanks for this great post, Mrs. Morrill!

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  4. I want to write historical fiction that tells the horrors people went through, and how they prevailed through by the grace of God. I don't want writing to be my life, so it will have to find time. I don't care about being published anymore; it's kind of like marriage. I don't plan on it, but if God opens the door, I'll go through.

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    1. Michaella, I think that's an excellent goal for your stories :)

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  5. I would like to try writing in many different genres but I'm realizing more and more that my favorite to read is Contemporary fiction. At this point the age group I like writing for is about 8 to 12 but then again I would like to try writing for other ages too. I definitely want to shine Jesus' light through everything I write. If somebody has problems with my characters being Christians then they don't need to read my books :) That is one of the reasons I have decided on self publishing. I don't want to be forced into compromising.

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  6. I am already a fantasy writer- just not a published one! I think my books are probably middle grade to YA, but my hope is that they can be enjoyed by people of all ages. I want to write two books a year- maybe more, but that's the minimum. And I want my writing to be- well, all three. I want it to be my job, in that I want to be a published author and hope that at one point I can do it full-time. I want it to be my hobby, in that I always want it to be something I do because it's what I love and not just because it's my job. And I want it to be my ministry, in that I want to use the stories I tell to teach others about God and His love.

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  7. Oh, this is a perfect time for this post! I've been thinking about it a lot lately, since I'm wanting to send queries out sometime this upcoming winter (eep!) and I've really had to think about where I want to go with this/how far I want to take it. So far a lot of doors have been opening, and I've been praying about it a lot and I feel like this is a path I really COULD go down professionally one day, and use that as my ministry in a way. I've always had a leaning for YA sci-fi/steampunk and that's what I've had the most success with, so that's what I'd like to do. I've decided that I really want to focus on putting out good, realistic stories that might be dark sometimes but have noble heroes (even if they have to learn that first) and good morals and so on, because YA really needs more of that.

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  8. I want to be the kind of writer who recognizes that words are weapons and who, accordingly, uses them with care and passion. At this point, I don't know if writing will be a job for me, but I know I'll do it my entire life!

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  9. I want to be the kind of writer who always works to improve, and can always tell herself that there are always chances. Young Adult fantasy with contemporary elements has always been my go to because I love it so much, but I've always dabbled in the older end of the age spectrum. I doubt I'll ever make writing my only job - I am a realist to a fault, and have chosen a career path that gives me stability and options for time. Writing will always be with me, I hope, and I want to give people at least one book with a career they relate to or that shows them a beautiful world.

    Love this question! I'm going to put it on my wall to always keep me thinking. Thank you for the post!~

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  10. Hey Stephanie! Thanks for the post :) It made me think and I have to ask now....what are your opinions on publishing in multiple genres? I have ideas in multiple genres but do I need to choose?

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    1. That's a tricky question :) You can certainly write in multiple genres. Lots of authors do and they make a good living at it. Especially with pen names and indie publishing, there are more opportunities than ever for writers to genre hop.

      But a couple thoughts to keep in mind:

      1. Every time you write in a new genre, it's like starting a new business. Readers of one genre won't always follow you, so if you've build up a readership in, for example, steampunk, they won't necessarily follow you if you want to dally in contemporaries. So even though you can diversify easier now than ever before, for your own personal sanity, you may not want to have too many genres going.

      2. If you're with a traditional publisher, they'll likely want you to hang out in a genre for a little while. So you just might want to make sure that you can live in that place for at least a few books.

      3. Some genres are close enough to each other than you can write in both and keep a lot of your audience. Like science fiction and fantasy. Still, see point two for some thoughts on that.

      Is that helpful?

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    2. I have a question. I am finishing up a novelette. Can I get it published as a ebook? If so, how? Does anyone like like reading noveleas? Please help. It was gonna be a novelea but I am about out of ideas so want to make it a novelette. Please respond

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  11. Oh, this is such an important question to ask yourself. It's easy to compare ourselves to others, but ultimately, we all have to forge our own paths. I want to be a writer that writes both YA and MG science fiction and historical fiction books that make readers think of things in different ways. I want to write completely clean YA because I'm disappointed in the lack of YA books that are clean. And I think that's my ministry, because I don't want to force Christianity down readers' throats, but maybe by just embodying Christian ideals in my work, I can be successful in doing that. I definitely see writing as a job, but only a part time one since I'd love to be an engineer full time.

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  12. I write because... (I'm fully contemplating this question!) I write because life matters, and words impact life, and words have the power to both convict and shake people of our cultural, religious, worldly complacency. And that's what I aim to do.

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  13. I.... Don't know yet. And that's okay. I've copied the questions into a task on my Google calendar, and I'll ask them later when I have time to ponder. It's important to know these questions, for sure, and so thanks for bringing that up—it's definitely something I need to keep in mind!

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  14. I remember this conversation perfectly. It's a question I ask myself ALL THE TIME. Especially when I need to remind myself, when I need perspective, when I can't FIND TIME. We need to go for another drive, Steph, have another talk.

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