Make what no one but you can make, what no one but you wants to make. Create a space that protects your creative spirit and makes sure that others aren’t looking over your shoulder either figuratively or actually. Keep your work to yourself while it is still in its infancy, vulnerable and easily mocked. Before you give others a chance to say what it is, make sure you know what it is—and what it isn’t.
Some writer friends asked me today how many words I write in an average day and I groaned a little. Partly because people say they hate me when I answer this truthfully, but more because this is the wrong way to think about something that is essentially an art. Yes, writing is also partly commerce, but it’s also deeply artistic, and trying to measure art is just wrong.
Sure, we do it. We do it every time a painting sells or a book is up for auction. We do it when we look at our amazon rankings and when we google ourselves and when we look up our bookscan numbers and when we ask our editors what our sales figures are and when we compare our advances to someone else’s and when we think about movie deals and on and on. And all of it is crazy making.
Sure, there is a place for being a business person. Even about your writing, you need to be able to separate yourself from the work and think about target audience and genre and where it will be place in the bookstore and what kind of a cover will get the right person to pick it up. I’m not saying you should put your fingers in your ears and ignore everything but your own muse’s voice.
I am saying that you should put earplugs in while you’re writing, though. And if you can’t turn off your mind from spooling about numbers while you’re writing, you might need to turn off some of your feeds that are drowning you in the wrong kind of information.
Instead, may I suggest reading a favorite book of yours that never made any money?
May I suggest reading a poem that wasn’t discovered until the author was dead?
May I suggest finding a book written by an author who spent twenty years researching it and never wrote anything else?
Numbers can matter, but books are not to be reduced to their numbers. You are not to be reduced to your number as an author. If you write 50 words in a day and they were the words you felt were the ones you needed to write that day, it doesn’t matter how many someone else wrote.
'Sex' doesn't sell. Erosion of female self esteem does. The feeling of superiority over women does. Turning women into 'things' to be studied, scrutinized & judged and then calling it 'sex' does.
Sex doesn’t sell. Objectification does"
— Sadiqa Thornton (via internetexplorers)