I just read an article with this headline, and I thought it would be about how to focus on the act of writing itself instead of all the adjunct activities that accompany it these days. I thought it would provide real suggestions on when best to communicate with your muse or how to get the family to leave you alone when you’re in creative mode. I thought wrong.
The article was more about the “business” side of writing rather than the passionate side. Granted, the article was written by the senior content editor for Writer’s Digest; and that organization is out to sell such programs as “Successful Self-Publishing Success,” “Blogging Your Way to Success,” and “Writing the Perfect Query Letter.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve taken some of these programs and always found something useful in them. At the same time, my muse is bothered by the trend that writing is becoming all about marketing first and writing second. Find out what an agent wants; then write it. Troll book shelves to see what’s being published these days. Use that data to inform your own writing. Be sure you have your platform ready.
I wonder what Natalie Goldberg thinks of all this. Her guide, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for in the current article. She is all about the writing itself, about being passionate about the work. Of course, her book was published in 1986, long before all the hoopla about social networking and self-publishing really went into high gear. And Goldberg does have a website now.
Still if you have nothing to say from the heart, what is the point?
P.S. I wrote an essay about Goldberg that is included in my book, The Square Root of Someone. I’ve added it to the Potpourri section of this website.