For any writer, here’s a question to ask yourself: “Why do I want to write this?”
A student told me recently that he was writing his first novel in order to sell it for a lot of money. Though I fully understand this motive, I don’t believe it’s a strong enough reason to complete your work.
Writing a novel, memoir, or screenplay requires having skin in the game. We become invested in our characters. To write purely for money distances you from the aliveness of the characters. It can pull you out of your imagination. We must stay out of the result, and keep ourselves from dwelling too much on dreams of writing a bestseller.
Writing is a search for the truth.
The convergence of art and commerce does not happen in the imagination. In fact, art is often rewarded for eschewing monetary considerations.
Of course, I think it’s ridiculous to expect any writer to be indifferent about having their work seen, bought, and rewarded. When we make these aspirations more important than the story, however, we tend to kill what we’re attempting to birth.
When you let go of the result, you invite yourself to go to places that you might have never otherwise explored. If you must arrive safely then these places are too dangerous, too forbidden, and too treacherous to explore. But if you make the journey more important than the destination, and possess a curiosity greater than your fear, you will inevitably start to have insights and breakthroughs.
Stay in the process — this is where the thrill of creation lives.
Dive into those places where you fear your characters would be misunderstood, disliked, judged, and even banished. If we do not see your characters struggle, make mistakes, and even cause harm, there will be no context for their liberation.