Thursday, June 25, 2015

Writing Selfishly

I'm a huge believer in teaching my kids not to be selfish.

All the tshirts you see in stores these days make me want to vomit. "Do what makes YOU happy!" Yada yada yada.

While I agree on the surface you need to be true to yourself, living a life where YOU are #1 and everyone else takes backseat, where you're looking after your own comfort and happiness with no regard to anyone elses, sounds pretty horrific to me and is very sad when you look at the generations we are raising up with a selfish, ME ME ME mindset.

Can you tell I'm passionate about the subject?


Even while I think it is VERY important in life AND in writing to consider the needs of others, there does need to be an element of ME in there.

People who don't take time to care for themselves get burnt out on loving others and become ineffective.

And when we write books purely just to make others happy and fit into a rigid box that a market might be currently wanting, we run the risk of growing to despise the very stories we've worked so hard to craft.

A few weeks ago, I was attempting to get "serious" about my writing schedule again. Life has been crazy lately and writing needed to go on the back burner.

On this particular story, I was stuck big time too. I would write a little but something was missing. I had no LOVE of the story, no excitement for it. It was frustrating because I really wanted to tell this character's story but she was being super quiet about what it was.

So on a Monday, I scheduled a babysitter (yeah for teenager daughters!) to watch my kids ALL DAY, went to my favorite writing spot (a 20 minute drive that I rarely indulge in) and just wrote.

The first few hours were horrible. I'd write a little and delete. Write a little  more and delete. I was only on chapter two and I just wanted to delete the whole project and give up. I was about ready to cry... but decided to finish the chapter then give up. Didn't matter if it was crappy or not, it was gonna get done.

But a funny thing happen as my fingers typed.

My heart thudded in my chest as an idea sparked. I probably looked maniacal as I sat there frowning one moment then grinning like someone had just handed me a lifetime supply of Dr. Pepper the next.

I'd found a missing link.

I still have no idea if anyone else is going to like it.

But at this point, *I* like the turn of the story.

It made MY heart flutter while writing it.
It made ME write for another three hours, causing me to call my husband and beg for him to handle dinner because I just couldn't WAIT to finish a few more scenes and figure out whats happening.
It made ME bite my lip in anticipation for the next chapter.

Will it do that for a reader?

I have no clue. Even when I'm done writing the story, there will need to be a LOT of editing, as is normal for seat-of-the-pants writers like me.

But I've got my excitement back for my book. I'm writing a bit selfishly, thinking more about what makes ME giddy with excitement than a reader.

I figure though, if I like it... chances are someone else will too, right?!?

So when you're editing, start thinking about that reader again. The one who needs to be hooked and pulled in just right, to have good pacing and great hooks. To show them characters on paper that you see so well in your head. To make sure your theme has been intricately weaved throughout the story so it makes the reader live the journey, not get a concussion from you knocking them in the head with it.

In summary... my tip is this:

WRITE what makes YOU happy, then EDIT to make THEM happy.

Discussion: Are you writing what you like to read? Do you read more in other genres outside of what you write?

Krista is a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, and author of Sandwich, With a Side of Romance, A Side of Faith and A Side of Hope. She blogs about finding JOY in the journey of LIFE at She is represented by Sarah Freese of Wordserve Literary.


Joanne Sher said...

LOVE this, Krista. So simple and SO true (but so hard LOL). Great post - sharing like crazy :D

kaybee said...

Krista, this is good -- and a reflection of what we should be as Christians. NOT doormats, but mindful of our own mental and physical health so we can be the best we can be. For God and others. It's not selfish to make time to write if you don't hurt anyone to make it happen.
Kathy Bailey

Krista Phillips said...

Joanne, thanks so much for sharing!! It's amazing how some of the simplest things are also the hardest, huh!

Krista Phillips said...

Kaybee, exactly! There is a fine line but it's an important one to find.

Teresa Tysinger said...

Really great post...I bet we've all been there. And that moment you begin to LOVE what you're writing - there's no better feeling. :)