I’ve run into a particular type of writer’s block with many of my clients that I call “reader anticipation.” It means that the writer is so focused on anticipating what the reader wants, or how they will react, that they freeze up during the creative process and can’t move forward.
One of the strongest triggers for writers seems to be reading a book that we fall in love with. After reading something phenomenal by William Faulkner, Stephen King, or Elizabeth Gilbert we’re consumed with admiration and wish we could write something just that perfect, and just that successful.
Usually, this book we fall in love with has mass appeal for some reason. It’s been a classic through the ages. Or it’s been on the bestseller list for the past 24 months. Whatever it’s done, that book has gotten a huge number of people to read it, and that’s exactly the thing we want for our own book.
With a wildly successful book though, it’s helpful to remember that the media (and the author’s PR team) only give us one side of the story. We get the rave reviews and hear from all the people who loved it. Much less attention is drawn to those who didn’t.
This is all completely normal. The writing and selling of books is a business after all, and the games and rules of the business world apply. But the truth is that there is no book out there that everyone loves, or even that most people feel the same way about.
Every book is a creative manifestation of the writer’s essence and personality. And just like with everything else, when people are confronted with who you are, they are bound to bring their own baggage to whatever perspective they form on you.
We are all containers for other people to pour their stuff into, and we are all mirrors in which other people will search for their own reflection.
It is the same with the books we write. When people read your book they will pour all of their own ideas about what the world is, and how it should be, into the story. Even the most open-minded reader will accept and/or reject your words based on their own opinions.
This is one of the reasons why writing is so scary. Because, ultimately, you cannot control the reaction of every reader. Some people will love your stuff and want more, and some people will hate it and feel they wasted their time. That’s just the way it is and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.
What we can control is our own reaction. We can choose to focus our energy on trying to please everyone, and trying to write the next Hunger Games, and end up mentally scattered and disconnected from our own true voice. Or, we can choose to write purely as ourselves and connect more deeply to our creative essence.
The choice is up to you. What’s it going to be?
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