I hope you don’t mind that today I take a break from time-travelling and tell you about something that happened recently and not decades ago. My life now mainly revolves around writing and self-publishing. Thanks to my husband I joined Twitter a year ago. How he convinced me that it was a good idea, is a story of its own. I guess under every right decision there hides a lucky coincidence.
Anyway, Twitter turned out to be the most amazing place for me as an indie author. Before I’d joined, the only person I could talk about my books was my husband. True, I hadn’t told anyone that I was writing and self-publishing, but to be honest, as much as I like happy endings, I must admit that this particular story doesn’t have one. I still don’t mention my literary endeavours often, but when I do, the only question that sparks any interest in people is “Do you earn anything from it?”
So, dear Diary, it isn’t an overstatement when I say that Writing Community on Twitter is my main source of support and encouragement. I finally found a place to talk about books, words, manuscripts, etc. for as long as my free time allows it.
From time to time, there pops up a tweet in my feed, where people complain that “tweets with meaningless questions get tons of engagement”. I won’t lie, such tweets make me feel intimidated, and for a moment, I consider hiding back into my shell and sharing my writing-related thoughts with my husband only. I know that many indie authors will nod if I say that the road we’ve chosen is already tough enough to add to those strikes and disappointments we already have to face.
Well, dear Diary, I’m glad that such moments of weakness remain moments. I remind myself that the questions I ask the community aren’t meaningless. At least, to me, they aren’t. And I truly appreciate all the opinions other authors share in the comments. To me, these discussions mean a lot.
The last question that caught the Writing Community’s attention on Twitter was about the daily word count. After listening to a bout of self-pity, during which I lamented the world, where money is the only thing that matters (to my defence, I can only say that such bouts don’t happen often), my husband, wishing to help me, shared an article that claimed it would lead every struggling author to the glittering peaks of financial success. The key to becoming rich and famous was simple. Write 5K words a day, and the gate of the bookish version of Eden Garden will open for you.
We laughed at the impossibility to follow this advice – on a good day I write 2K words, and by a good day I mean as good as my day has a capacity to be – and I forgot about it, having never been the one to follow closely such definite things as word count. Dear Diary, don’t get me wrong, I’m an extremely disciplined person. My husband calls me a navy seals commander – yes, he’s got a military background, and as you know, you can take a man out of the army, but you can never take the army out of the man – and trust me, he has reasons for that. Sometimes I scare myself with my own determination. But it has no connection whatsoever with counting the words I write in a day.
Anyway, after a while, I received a newsletter, and there was an article about those 5K words again! Then I did a brief research on the Internet, and Google obligingly offered me page after page of articles urging authors to strive towards this shining goal of 5K words.
I decided that if it’s such a big thing, I’d ask the Writing Community what other writers think about it. I was a little taken aback by the reaction. It wasn’t my intention to get extra attention by offering an outright controversy and presenting it like it’s the ultimate truth. But tweets have strict limitations as to the number of characters, so you have to be rather inventive to fit a catchy message and relevant hashtags (no one will see your tweets without them) into less than three hundred characters.
Some authors on Twitter were outraged, and some used strong words like “bullshit” and “bullocks”. Some were categorical in expressing their disagreement with 5K words a day having any logical reasoning behind it. There were also authors who, like me, felt discouraged by the obvious impossibility to write with such productivity.
Dear Diary, I know that I can be open with you, and that’s why I can say it here without fear of being misunderstood. It doesn’t really matter if I ever earn money from writing. I won’t stop writing if my publishing expenses exceed my income from it – like it’s been so far. I don’t write to make money. I write because I had it in me since I was thirteen, and I’ve finally let it out. The feeling of self-fulfilment is phenomenal, unprecedented. It cannot be compared to anything I felt on my highly prestigious and exciting job with international projects. I won’t lie, dear Diary: I won’t give up on writing no matter how many of the people I know shrug dismissively upon hearing “I write books”.
That being said, it wouldn’t upset me if more people buy and read my books. It would make me very happy. I believe that for every author it’s important to be heard. But for some, the process of creating stories – of releasing them from their inner universe – is a value in itself.
And that tweet about 5K words turned out to bring something valuable. Traditionally published authors shared their experience as well – and I consider them a more reliable source than online “gurus” – and all of them said that while they never write 5K words a day, they still publish 2-3 books a year and earn money.
So, dear Diary, “never knowing what happened, the people of Earth were saved by a secret society of protectors known as…”, no, not “Men in Black”, of course. This time, one person – namely, one indie author struggling with beasts of doubts and insecurities just like so many creative people – was saved from frustration by the Writing Community of almighty Twitter.