I was recently asked in an interview if it was more fun writing before landing that first contract or since the contract.
I didn't hesitate. Definitely before.
Before the contract I wrote for the sheer pleasure of it, I could take my time with the manuscript, work through it at my own pace, tweak it here and there. I could spend as much time as I wanted to with no pressure from deadlines or editors, no worries about finicky reviewers or unsatisfied readers. It was just me and my ideas, me and my words.
Before the contract the stories flowed easier, the creative fire burned brighter. The joy was in the process, nothing else.
After that first contract things changed. Deadlines rule the day now, schedules and marketing and interviews and social networking. It's not just about the writing anymore, not just about the story. I can't write at my own leisure; I have to write every day if I'm going to meet deadline.
And with deadlines looming and pressure to top my latest offering and sales numbers swimming in my head, the creative fires need to be stoked a bit more than before, tended more often and diligently.
Now, don't get me wrong, I still love writing, still love weaving stories and bringing to life interesting characters, but the joy isn't just in the process anymore, in fact, it's less in the process and more in the finished product and aftermath.
Being published is very satisfying in a narcissistic kind of way. There's great joy in knowing other people are reading your work and enjoying it. That they are intrigued by the thoughts in your head. Now my greatest joy is in hearing the feedback of satisfied readers, knowing the hours I pour into a book, the early mornings seven days a week, the re-writes and edits, no matter how painful they may be, are all worth it because I'm making a difference.
And that's the dichotomy of writing under contract. The result is just as important as the process and intimately dependent on it. Often, what you get out of it is proportionate to what you put into it.
And isn't that just like life?
Now how about you. If you're a published author, did you enjoy writing more before being published? If you're not-yet-published, does the prospect of being published with all it's deadlines and expectations scare you?