No One Cares about Your Unwritten Fiction but You

You have stories roaming around in your head. I have stories like that, too. But until we get those stories out of our heads and onto a computer screen, they don’t exist for anyone who lives outside our heads and so those other people can’t care.

Our schooling gives us the wrong impression. In schools they act like even one single child not living up to his potential will wreck their whole century. But in fact even they don’t really expect everyone to do well, and if loads of kids have to give up dreams of becoming writers or rock stars or NFL football players in order to become accountants or congressmen or garbage men, that’s just normal life. In some schools the teachers learn to expect nearly everyone to fail— they are just happy when Joe becomes a garbage man and not a hit man.

The fact is, if you never write another word and give up your writing dream forever— delete your Scrivener, donate all your how-to-write books to the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop, and burn your notebooks— no one will really care. If you have family members or loved ones, they may be sad if the giving-up process makes you visibly sad, but they don’t really care about the loss of your unwritten work, because those things aren’t real to them.

Now, once you start writing your stories down, even if the first ones are pretty bad, you can start getting better at those writing skills that don’t just involve making up stories in your head. If you try for years and can’t get an agent or a big traditional publisher interested, try small presses or indie publishing or putting your novels up on a blog or on Wattpad. In today’s writing world, anyone can get his writing out there where readers can see it. Which can be a bad thing, as when a 14-year-old girl writes the first draft of a Nanowrimo novel and thinks it’s good enough to be self-published, or at least to be on Wattpad. In ten or twenty years, that weak, unfinished novel she published will haunt her— though more and more writers will have their own skeletons in the online closet instead of in their trunk in the attic where juvenilia properly belong.

That work in your head might well be great. Or it could become great, with enough editing and revisions. It might not be the kind of great I would care for, but still, it could be great. But only if you can get it out of your head. So get to it!

Why aren’t you writing RIGHT NOW?