Good afternoon, Arrowheads! As I’ve mentioned before here on my blog, I have a love/hate relationship with marketing. There are things I find fun about it (like this blog), and some things and social media sites I’ve had to distance myself from due to anxiety. Over the past couple months, I’ve considered why I started writing in the first place, and what my goals are for writing now. I now realize why I’ve been so anxious lately when it comes to writing: I’ve lost my Mission 1 Mindset.
Mission 1 Mindset
When I was seven years old, my sweet Aunt Sherry gave me what would become my first writing notebook. Back then, I basked in the fun of writing. I loved it. Everyone who knew me knew I loved it. Kids at school barely even heard me talk, but they sure as heck knew I loved to write.
That’s because my mission (aka Mission 1) back then was to do that, just write. To pour out whatever story I had in mind onto paper, to see that finished product. Sometimes, if I liked a story good enough, I would make a physical copy of it in a “book” made out of printer paper and construction paper for the cover. My family has pictures of me holding one of those books outside, showing off my achievement.
Even now, whenever I behold a finished writing project, that’s when I’m the happiest.
Money: The Cause of Writing Anxiety
Back then, I wasn’t worried about making money. In my Career Management class freshman year, we had to compose a budget based on the career we chose for a semester-long project. Of course, I chose to be an author. I looked up the average salary, and went bankrupt according to the budget constraints my teacher provided. Knowing being a money-making author was a hit or miss career choice, I went to college for computers instead. Is IT my true passion? No. Do I like it as much as writing? Um, heck no. Do I still want to make money writing? Yes.
I now have a very complicated mindset about writing and making money. Oh, it can make you money, but not enough money to support yourself. That is, unless you basically sell your soul to marketing. Which, quite frankly, I have no desire to do anymore after it’s caused me more anxiety than it’s worth.
So, am I going to throw in the towel on marketing? Not completely. I’m just not going to waste my money on paid marketing efforts anymore. It’s not that paid marketing doesn’t work (it can), it’s just that my anxiety goes haywire when the efforts don’t turn out working the way I hope they will. So I’m done.
Looking back over the last year and eight months since my first novel was published, I was happiest when the book was virtually unknown to anyone on Goodreads but me. I had a few Amazon reviews at the time from family, friends, and acquaintances, but none on Goodreads.
The minute I looked to other people to validate my worth as a writer through Goodreads reviews was the worst career mistake I’ve ever made.
Don’t get me wrong, Goodreads is a great place for readers. I’ve made several good online friends through Goodreads; however, the constant fear of seeing readers not liking my book ate away at me every time I logged in. I’d see readers leaving hateful reviews on random books, and would worry if that would happen to my book. I became so wrapped up in worrying what reviewers would think that I lost sight of the very reason I started writing in the first place: to just write. For that feeling of seeing a finished product.
I didn’t require validation to keep writing as a kid, and I don’t need it now.
I have censored my writing due to fear of what others will think, and in the process I’ve crippled my writing voice. No more.
I have considered not finishing my current WIP, The Crush, because it’s a YA romance and I’ve lost count of the number of readers I’ve come across that dislike romance. But, that’s rather stupid of me.
I wrote Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl to portray how I wish my freshman year would have gone in terms of finding my high school sweetheart.
I wrote Speak Your Mind because I was the shy, awkward girl in 7th grade who was called names and bullied because I didn’t talk, and I know thousands of other shy girls have experienced the same thing.
I’m writing The Crush because I want to show teen girls that we need to look to God first before we get caught up in finding our “true love” in a man.
All my WIPs have one thing in common: I’m writing a book I want to read, or that I needed during a certain point in life. I’m publishing them so I can hold those finished books, so the family and friends who want to read them can. Over the past two years, I’ve worried what readers who I personally don’t know will think of my books. That’s dumb. Don’t get me wrong, constructive criticism from readers matter. Loyal readers are necessary if I want to gain a fan base, become a best-selling author, blah blah… but it won’t be worth it if I let non-constructive criticism make me lose sight of my Mission 1 Mindset.
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? -Matthew 16:26
It especially won’t be worth it if I claim to be writing to spread the love of God through books and then listen to the world’s opinions of my writing over His. God gave me the gift of writing. God knows my heart in writing what I write. Why then, have I allowed the opinions of others to make me question my writing skills, to make me question if my writing meets the standards to be called Christian fiction? No more.
If God wants me to become a money-making author some day, that’s up to Him. No amount of attempting to force it into action by myself is going to make it happen. The only thing that happens when we put our own desires over God’s desires for us is anxiety. The only thing that happens when we place our own value in the opinions of others instead of God is feeling worthless.
Going Back to Mission 1
So now, I’m going to do my darnedest to go back to my Mission 1 Mindset: to just write. To pour out whatever story I have in mind onto paper, to see that finished product. I’m going to try to distance myself from looking at reviews and just use Goodreads for reading purposes. I’m going to use the words and content I feel convicted to use when writing. I’m not going to filter my writing to appease others. I’m going to keep writing about the world in a realistic way from the POVs of imperfect (because we all fall short) Christian characters. I’m going to stop soaking up all the miscellaneous marketing articles I can find and market the way I want.
I’m not a mediocre author for not following those articles. I’m not a mediocre Christian for writing about real-life situations people experience. I’m only mediocre when I let anxiety for what the world will think about my writing overshadow the ability God has given me: to write for Him in my own unique way.
Here’s to going back to Mission 1! 😀