If you search for “writer’s manifesto” on the web, you’ll find no shortage of declarations of intent from writers of all types. It doesn’t surprise me that many of us need to write down our vision for our work. So much of what writers do happens in our heads and in private, so it’s easy to get lost in a tangle of thoughts and stray from our paths.
I’ve been following Jeff Goins’ blog and last week he posted a short e-book of his manifesto. The message is simple and it doesn’t take long to read, but I think his ideas are valuable.
Jeff reminds us that writing is art and says that it must be a creative expression without regard to audience. If our work is good, an audience may follow, but there are no guarantees. And first comes the work. We write because the one thing common to all writers, published or not, known or invisible to all but our family and friends, is that we have no choice but to write.
I believe all this to be true, but at the same time, I do write in hope of publication. I know that, unless I complete another major revision, my first novel that I worked so hard to write won’t ever be in print. I’m almost comfortable with that knowledge. Still, I don’t think I could have spent six years writing it if I had realized at the start that it would be shared only with a few trusted readers.
I don’t think I could immerse myself in the long process of writing another novel without some hope that it might one day be published.
I’ll do my best to use all of the lessons I learned writing my last novel so that the next one can be better, so that my work can be good. But I still hope that I’m not writing only for myself. I hope that the story I need to write will be one that others want to read.
Jeff’s manifesto ends with what, to me, is his most important message. “You are not alone.”
It helps to know that this contradiction I wrestle with is one that I share with other writers and artists. We do our work, create our art as we must, and we hope that the world will embrace it. We have to believe that we aren’t writing for ourselves alone. Maybe that is my manifesto.
Work hard and believe.
What about you? Do you have a manifesto?
You can get a free copy of Jeff Goins’ “The Writer’s Manifesto” if you sign up for Jeff’s newsletter.