How to Conquer Writer’s Block: Tip 75
FOR WHOM AM I WRITING?
I think that trying to answer this question is an important exercise while writing. It’s a bit different from the question WHO IS MY READER? The latter is a question about the reader of my published work, whom I assume are kids, librarians, teachers, friends and my devoted family. I have no control over that audience.
But the former question speaks to whom you conjure up as you slave away at an unfinished project. The answers to the question represent the stages I go through as the work progresses, a writer’s equivalent to the Stages of Grief, I guess.
For whom am I writing?
FIRST STAGE: The Market, i.e. what is currently “selling”…
SECOND STAGE: Those Who Appreciate Fine Children’s Literature, i.e. reviewers, librarians, teachers, agent, publisher.
THIRD STAGE: The Kids Out There, which usually means addressing what kids currently like to read.
FOURTH STAGE: Myself, i.e. my younger self, always reading over my shoulder for veracity.
FIFTH STAGE: My character; i.e. would s/he do, feel, say the words I have written?
SIXTH STAGE: The Words themselves. This is a kind of amorphous stage when you are so lost in the project you really don’t care who your reader is. The writing has become something you must do, like living itself. This sounds a bit pompous, but I think it’s true.
As E.L. Doctorow once said: “There is no room for a reader in your mind. You don’t think of anything but the language you’re in.”
The Sixth Stage is one of Acceptance, I believe. You’ve fallen in love with the work; it’s just the two of you, and everything else disappears. It’s a rather nice place to be, and why some people become addicted to writing. It’s the stage I wish I could leap to, bounding over those other ego-infected stages (although the Fifth Stage is a pretty good place to be in, too.)
I’m not sure I have to go through every stage to reach the highest plane. Maybe I do. But I’m trying to shorten the annoyingly critical, writer’s-block-inducing First through Fourth…
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