As a writer, I’ve learned one of my best sources for inspiration has been what I think every writer needs to truly do well: readers. It’s amazing what happens when you have at least one reader—a reader who wants to read. Even one reader with enthusiasm and belief in you and your stories is enough to inspire more (and better) writing. It’s also good to have a reader who understands the craft and can make effective critique, but a reader who likes your work is good too, because they are so enthusiastic they ask you to write more, or about a certain character, or what you intend to do about certain situations. They have favorite characters they want to see. They want to see what you’re going to have happen next. Their questions are often just as good as those of a writing peer.
What comes immediately to mind is the “support crew” I had during the challenge of National Novel Writing Month in November. Prior to that grand adventure, I’d had little feedback and been without many dedicated readers since I was in college. The only reason I had any in college was the fact that it was required in my writing classes to workshop stories, and my work was thoroughly enjoyed by pretty much everyone. I created a LiveJournal account and began to post some of my work there to be read by a small group of friends, but of those only one really read them and commented. It was very disheartening. My family doesn’t even read my work, as none of them like science fiction or fantasy.
I was hesitant to attempt National Novel Writing Month, but I prayed about it, and my schedule opened up to provide me the time. I joined the official site (though I didn’t get involved in the forums since I didn’t have that much time). Then I started to post my project—a fantasy story I named Brink—on my LiveJournal account as I finished each day. I doubted it would get read, other than the single friend that reads all my stuff there.
She wasn’t the only person to read it. My boyfriend, Dan, asked to follow it while I wrote, so I gave him my username and password to LiveJournal where he could read without having to make his own account. I started posting how many words I wrote per day on my FaceBook page as well.
The result was astounding. I was cheered on by some of my FaceBook contacts, and enthusiastically read and encouraged by Dan and Megan. Dan and Megan were so enthusiastic I was able to fight through and successfully complete the challenge. Having the fanbase made writing fun. I wanted to write for them. I felt practically giddy when I’d finish another section for them to read. It’s amazing what enthusiastic readers will do for your confidence and passion.
Dan and Megan were also instrumental in their encouragement for me to continue the story after November was over. Brink is now in Book Two of three, though the going is far slower now that I’m not in the time crunch. But it continues, and hopefully will until I know it’s supposed to end.