A lot of articles from Rod Dreher are hitting me hard lately. Here’s one about writing, and it’s well worth reading. The point of the piece is something that’s been repeated to writers over and over (whether they choose to listen or not): If you don’t write, you’re never going to be published or successful, so stop whining and just write.
The article is mainly about writing nonfiction pieces for profit, so it’s easier to drill that line into your head when your writing is the only thing standing between you and your next paycheck or your next meal. If you’re writing as a hobby, or if writing isn’t your main job but something you do to earn a few bucks on the side, you might not have to worry about it as much. Still, if you are truly a writer, the imperative to write is still there. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the end of my life, whenever that happens to be. I figure that if I at least get all the stories out of my head and written down in some form, then I’ll die satisfied. For me, it’s not about making money or impressing people. It’s about literally needing to write because I have something to say whether anyone else is listening or whether anyone thinks what I have to say is important.
The article also made me think about NaNoWriMo, and how it provides an “excuse” to write for those who believe they have a book “inside” them but would otherwise have no opportunity to actually sit down and write. What do those people do when NaNoWriMo is over? Do they continue to write every single day* for the rest of the year, nonstop, or do they go back to their regular schedule of writing only when inspired, then wondering why they never achieve success? A month should be long enough to start and maintain a new habit, but some people get so tired from writing 1,667 words every day for NaNo that they say they’ll take a break for a while but never get back to it.
So do you keep writing even if your work was just rejected by a publisher? Do you keep writing even if someone said that your story was the worst thing they ever read? Do you keep writing even though you might have been told that you’ll never make any money at it? Do you keep writing even if it cuts into the time you’d spend on other hobbies?
*I don’t mean literally every single day; sometimes it’s healthy to take time off, and sometimes life forces you to take time off. I think the point is to keep up with some kind of regular schedule so you don’t have to rely on the unreliable muse.