Over the last five months, I’ve written nothing but articles and books meant to deliver income. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy those projects; in fact, they might be my favorite projects. But after writing ten novels straight and a multitude of articles on different platforms, I was seeing my perfectionism creep in.
It happens, especially as I continue writing series that require focus and plot connections and continuity. I can’t make a slip or I’ll lose the interest of my readers. Articles are designed to keep people engaged and deliver value they can use. A few sentences off beat and people click away or choose to lightly skim.
I needed to find a break from that perfectionism, and that’s exactly what I did. After completing my sixth novel in the series, I took a week off of fiction writing. I launched Author Bound — an authorpreneurship project I had been building in the background but never had the time to officially launch with a rapid release series in the works.
But that wasn’t the passion project that changed my life.
It was writing ‘fanfiction’ on my own novel.
Okay, that sounds weird to say. Let me be clear, though, that there’s nothing wrong with fanfiction — it’s a wonderful way for individuals to express their creativity and have some fun with their imagination. I think it’s glorious.
What feels weird is that I’m writing it on my own novel. Let me explain.
My debut novel is told from two perspectives. Clara and Nate each have their own ‘chapter’ in which they tell the story in progression. There’s only one instance where they tell the same chapter. As it was written, that was the best way to get the story told. I carefully selected which character should have the priority of telling the scene. In fact, in several occasions, I wrote the chapter from both perspectives and determined which one served the story in the best way possible.
And that’s where I got the idea: what if I had done the opposite?
It was still possible to tell the story in that way, but knowing it wouldn’t do me much good besides take away from writing on projects that made me money, I just put that idea off to the side. Besides, it was mostly just a project for myself. It wasn’t a new novel — it was a retelling of the same story in a different way, and though it was different, it was the same plot.
But after my week off, I realized how much I wanted to start a project that meant something to me. It wasn’t about delivering to an audience. I’d worked hard to build a backlog of content and give myself the space for a short break. But asking a writer who is passionately in love with the act of writing to take a break is like asking a fish not to swim or a dog not to wag its tail when he’s happy.
It’s impossible to stop writing.
So, this week I investigated Wattpad, a place to live update stories. Even though I was writing for myself, I wanted a place to hold myself accountable and even find other stories to read and be inspired by. Believe whatever you want about the platform, but there was such a joy of posting and sharing my work without fear of consequence. The writing community, no matter where they are located, looks out for other writers. It’s a supportive and lively community of people who lovewriting. That’s where I want to be.
There’s peace in posting things without fear of little slip ups — the casual repeating of a word, a misspelling, an accidental grammar mistake… those are all beautifully forgiven. There isn’t a focus on the little, nitpicky things of perfectionism. It’s about story — and that’s what I needed to reconnect with. Let go of the knot in my stomach and let the words fly again, free from my mind and into a world of passionate creators and consumers.
I’m essentially writing fanfiction on my own book, but damn it feels good to free myself from perfectionism. Just in time for NaNo, where I’ll be posting my novel as I write it in a way to keep myself accountable.