Only about 33% of what I write is ever actually intended for publication.
I know what you’re thinking: “But Mavey, darling, there’s only so much time in the day and I need to get paid.”
Don’t we all. With a full-time job, half a dozen pets, a handicapped mother that I’m the primary caregiver of, and a relationship and house to take care of too, I know all too well just how hard it is to find time to write. And when time runs short, well, it’s often my writing time that gets sacrificed to the other gods of Life, too. But it’s also important to me to remember why I love writing.
It’s easy to forget that, especially when you’re freelancing and don’t always get to choose what you’re writing about. This happens with other creative professionals too. I have artist friends who do design work and find that all of their energy goes into following the instructions and wishes of their clients, and then there’s none left to work on their own art projects.
One of the best ways I’ve found to renew my love of the craft – instead of just focusing on the job of it – is to write things I don’t intend to publish. I write daily comments in my bullet journal (sometimes no more than a sentence or two, sometimes whole pages). I do flash fiction based on random prompts. I write fanfiction.
Instead of a waste of time, all of this non-publishable writing helps renew my desire to work on my creative projects, a desire that can often be sapped by too many pieces of copy, ad, or SEO writing. When I’ve successfully finished a nice little piece of flash fiction, or lanced my emotions with a journal article, I then feel like I can work on a “real” short story or one of my novels-in-progress. It renews and refreshes my energy instead of taking it.
And, well, sometimes those little pieces of flash fiction turn into something great, with a little tweaking. And sometimes just visiting characters you love in a fanfic can remind you why you wanted to be a writer in the first place, to tell stories like the ones they were in.