The questions writers ask themselves during different stages of the writing process, especially writers pursuing publication, seem to be universal:
Is writing a waste of time?
Will I ever get anywhere with my writing?
The good news is, you, as writer, have the ability to influence the outcome. Perhaps it all comes down to another question, underpinning the two above:
Why do you write?
Up until three years ago, I wrote for the sheer joy of writing. Agents and publication weren’t part of it; writing felt as necessary as breathing. I felt fiercely protective of my words, not wanting anything outside myself to put constraints on how or what I wrote. It wasn’t about the market, grammar, or craft. It was about expressing myself through a medium that fits my soul perfectly.
And then, one day (I can’t explain why) I felt ready to take my writing to the next level. After two years of querying, (along with hundreds of rejections), and two manuscripts, I signed with an agent in October. My first novel is out on sub to publishers, and I feel excited, exhilarated, but most importantly, ready.
I know everyone sees the agent as the brass ring, but there are other ways of looking at the process. Using myself as an example, those years I wrote for myself were just as valuable as those offers of representation, if not more so. The writing grew me into the person I am now, and taught me much about being that person in the world.
Why do you write?
How about the joy of words, the journey of mind and soul and the growth within it, the lessons learned about hard work, perseverance, believing in dreams, being true to yourself, doing what makes you, you?
Nothing we do with our whole hearts is ever a waste of time. Even when the writing benefits only ourselves, it can still develop us in ways that benefit others and the world at large.
Does your writing pass the smile test?
It goes like this: the joy felt when doing what you love puts a smile on your face, and then you go out into the big, wide world and smile at strangers, who then feel buoyed up and smile at other strangers, changing the energy of the world at large.
If your words can do that, how can they ever be a waste of time?
A saying in the horse rescue world also applies: saving a horse may not change the world, but it changes that one horse’s WHOLE world.
The same goes for your writing, even if the audience is an audience of one.
Why do you write? Is it ever a waste of time, in your experience?