"Is my writing good enough for the box office?"
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard this question, I would be running a publishing house in Miami, not freelancing online. Explicitly or implicitly, all of my writer friends seem so concerned with this question of whether they "have what it takes" to be published.
I'm sure many of you have faced this exact scenario: You spent weeks, months, years struggling, sweating and crying over your novel. You bled, screamed and hammered those keys until your fingers were numb. Then you kept writing.
Your characters became real to you. They lived in your thought-life and imaginations as real – if not more real – than the people you know in real life. They have a mind of their own, and their story is a part of you.
Then you showed your work to people.
Several agonizing weeks of waiting and handwringing, only for them to tell you, "Maybe this was just a practice."
Just a practice?
If even your best work is deemed unfit for publishing, you are forced to ask yourself: "Am I even fit to be a writer?"
First of all, we need to start thinking of writing as what it is: a craft.
The first time Taylor Swift opened her mouth to sing, do you think she was pitch-perfect? Do you think it was a perfectly in-tune, mesmerizing, cool blast of perfectly marketable singing? Of course not! What's more likely is that if she had any talent at all, she took that talent and decided to cultivate it.
And how would she have done that? With practice. She worked every day, tutored and taught by professional singers, until her songwriting and performance abilities were world-class.
And that's what you need to do with your writing.
It's not always easy, it's not always fun, and it's not about how good you are now. It's about how willing you are to keep improving your craft every day until you are great at it.
No one expects a pianist to play a concerto the very first time they sit in front of the piano.
So what kind of prigs are we that we think our first tries should be perfect?
It's not about singing a good song or playing a good concerto. It's about being a good singer or actor or pianist or what-have-you. It's about being a "good writer". Giving up because you didn't play a concerto the first time you sat at a piano is no way to become the next Beethoven.
If you have something that's ready for publication, great. But the only way to become a fit writer is to give your all into everything you write, even the practices, because that's what shapes the kind of a writer you are.
And just like exercise, it's only by consistency that you achieve the results you want. At the end of the day, it's not about how that exercise went; it's about what kind of a person you are making yourself into.
It's about what kind of a writer those torturous, glorious practices are making out of you.