Why write? Choosing to be a writer (or an artist of any kind) is fraught with reasons to quit. Many do—the artist’s way is not an easy road. With the constant critique, rejection, and self-doubt, you would have to be nuts to be a writer. Right?
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston S. Churchill
Because you love what you do. You have passion for it. You realize your writing matters. Art matters.
The key to writing success?
But how do you keep on doing the work of your soul? How can you find success (as you define it) as an artist? What is the most important piece? Your passion? Talent? What you know? Who you know? There is one thing, more important than any other that will take you to success when the “why write” question seems hard to answer.
Persistence to do your work, to remain true to yourself, and follow your dream. Persistence doesn’t come naturally; as human beings, we naturally search for an easy way. The good news is you can develop persistence and inspire it from yourself.
Suggestions to keep you writing
Define your purpose and passions and put it to paper.
I suggest you create a “writing” manifesto (a declaration of your, intentions, longings, and/or goals). This is a wonderful way to keep your soul on track and focus on what really matters to you. One look at your manifesto in the morning and you will remember why you chose your writer’s path. Seeing your manifesto will inspire you to write every time to see it!
Touch your writing every day.
There has to be something small (for days when you are short on time) you can do every day. Even a small thing will create an “incubation period” for your creativity. For me, reading my last written page or an outline of my work-in-progress will later spark new ideas when I’m driving, running, vacuuming, or taking a shower! Getting a new idea and capturing it is a big win. I have a whiteboard where I “mind map” my ideas. A place to capture my creativity. What are some small things you can do? Make a list. When you are short on time (or energy) go to your “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” list and turn a do-nothing day into one with an accomplishment. Imagine, at the end of the year, where 365 accomplishments or story ideas will take you!
Find others like you. There are lots of writers groups that meet on a regular basis. Find one (or start one if none are available). A group or writing-partner is great for support, camaraderie, and inspiration. It doesn’t feel so strange when you surround yourself with like-minded people. Plus, making your goals public, answering “why write” with others will reinforce your passion to do your work.
If you do suffer a setback, forgive yourself.
Setbacks are natural. Read about famous failures. Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, J.K. Rowling, even Lady Gaga—the list is long and quite impressive. Pick yourself up and get going again, because you haven’t failed if you haven’t quit.
Award-winning novelist Kathy Steffen teaches fiction writing and speaks at writing programs across the country. Additionally, Kathy is also published in short fiction and pens a monthly writing column, Between the Lines. Her books, FIRST THERE IS A RIVER, JASPER MOUNTAIN and THEATER OF ILLUSION are available online and at bookstores everywhere. Check out more at www.kathysteffen.com