"It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write."
- Sinclair Lewis
I recently read Page after Page: Discover the Confidence & Passion you Need to Start Writing & Keep Writing (No Matter What!) by Heather Sellers. Long title, right? Ms. Sellers recommends: write everyday, have confidence, don’t whine, and don’t take rejections personally. I know, easier said than done. She provides writing exercises to help you along at the end of each chapter. (I confess; I did not do these writing exercises.)
The part of the book that spoke to me was near the end was deciding what type of writer I want to be in five years. These are taken from the book:
A closet writer. (Write every day, but never reveal you do so.)
A wanna-be writer. (Talk about what you want to write and how unfair and hard publishing is.)
A nonwriting writer. (Think about your writing a lot. Get complex illnesses instead of words down on paper. Decide you are “busy”.)
A duped writer. (Say, “I’ll write later,” and know inside you won’t. Hang around people who will play this sad game with you.)
A famous writer. (Write every day. Trade work with people a little better than you. Read every day. Go to writing conferences and school. Learn a lot.)
A smart, quiet literary writer. (Have a devoted, tiny following.)
A one-hit wonder writer.
A struggling-against-himself writer. (Write a couple of times a month. Spend a lot of time listening to the demons who tell you the work sucks. Indulge these voices. Or, drink a lot.)
Which writer(s) have you been?
Which writer(s) are you now?
Which writer(s) do you hope to be?
Although I didn’t write every day, I was a closet writer for years. I’m ashamed to admit that when I began writing seriously, and then queried, I spent way too much time in the wanna-be writer mindset. And too often, I’ve been a struggling-against-myself writer (without the massive drinking problem) because I’m harder on myself than anyone.
As for five years from now, I’m going to be honest and say I want to be a famous writer. Well, I don’t want the paparazzi hounding me, but I’d like to make a living from writing. And I do write nearly everyday now. I have for over a year. I don’t always write fiction each time. But I will from now on. Because if I want to be a full-time writer, then I need to keep from putting barriers in my way. There are enough hurdles to jump over to write well, land an agent, and become published. I’m not going to whine, tell myself how bad I am, and stop writing. Or I’ll never get there.
This week, I’ve promised to write one k per day in October per the Operation Awesome Challenge . Want to join me? My summer was spent on rewrites instead of new material. But for the past few weeks, I’ve gotten back in the habit of writing rough drafts of fiction again. I wrote and submitted a short story for an anthology. I’m making progress on Naked Eye (6k and counting). In the meantime, I’ve redone my query (AGAIN) for Mist Chasers Query Revised, which is up on Earnest Writer’s Excerpts. And I’ve sent out five more queries, while a few more are pending.
Five years from now, I want to look back and say that I’ve done it. I made the commitment to write each day. And I kept querying until I landed an agent. A publisher picked up my manuscript (maybe after a lucrative bidding war). And when it got published, I promoted the heck out of the book. And it did well enough for my publisher to keep publishing my books. Most importantly, I made a difference in my readers’ lives.
Where do you want to be five years from now?