Monday, July 30, 2012

The only one who can hold you back is you

Answering my emails this morning, I came across a letter from an aspiring writing asking for advice and encouragement for making the jump from hobby writer to pro-writer. This is no small order for anyone, but once you add in kids and a job, it can seem impossible. She was already writing most days, so I told her that was the absolute best thing she could do. But thinking about her question reminded me of the days when I was in the same boat (though minus the kid).

The number one bit of advice every writer repeats is "Write!" I do this too. Every time someone asks me how to become a writer or what to do, I say "Write! Write every day you can. Don't give up! Keep writing!"  It's gotten to the point where the word Write! is starting to lose its meaning because I've repeated it so much.  But that doesn't matter, because writing is the fundamental act that makes you a writer.

I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this, but years ago, when I would wake up very early to write in the mornings before work, I used to talk myself out of bed by telling myself "Writing is your great dream. If you can't even get out of bed for it, you don't want it." This is a pretty cruel thing to say to yourself at 5 in the morning, and I'm not recommending guilt as motivation, but I will say it worked for me.

Here's a secret, though. When I was starting out, I didn't write every day. There were times when I quit writing for months at a time, or days when I got up to write and ended up wasting my entire two hours reading web comic archives. It took me a year and a half to finish my first book, and another year to finish my second. But there, friends, is the kicker. Though there were days I didn't write, days I flubbed, sometimes even months when I walked away from the computer, I never stayed away. I always came back.

The difference between the writers who make it and those who don't is that the writers who win are the writers who never quit. This is the secret to all writing: You only fail when you stop. So long as you are writing, even if you're not writing as much or as fast or as well as you'd like to be, so long as you do not quit, you have not failed.

In the end, the only thing that will ever determine whether or not you become a successful writer is you. Not publishers or agents or luck or even readers. You. You are the only person who can write your books, and you are the only person who decides when to give up or keep going. This is the writer's greatest power, and no one can ever take it from you.

And now, from one person who didn't give up to another: it's absolutely worth every second. You can make it. Never quit writing.

10 comments:

Zach Alig said...

I love your blog. No matter the medium, this kind of advice applies and is encouraging. Thanks.

Courtney Richards said...

Needed to hear this today. :) Thanks, Rachel!

Deshipley said...

Hear, hear!
Write, write!

Marie Andreas said...

Thank you so much- I needed this today BIG TIME!

Busy Woman said...

Good pep talk..or pep write.

Rachel Aaron said...

You are all such lovely people. Seriously, you guys! So happy I could help. :D

BG said...

Thank you, once again, for another inspiring post about writing. I am also a hobby writer.

It's just one thing, since I started following your blog I've been wanting to read your books. But I'm from Portugal and your books are not sold here... :(

Laura Stephenson said...

BG, have you tried looking on Amazon? They're available there.

Vilite246 IsMyScreenName said...

I loved this post, especially because it was so true. Thanks, Rachel! XD

Could you write a post on how you flesh out a vague idea into a whole plot, or even another world? I would really appreciate that :)

Vilite246 IsMyScreenName said...

Loved the post, as usual XD

Could you write a post on how you flesh out a vague idea into a plot or even a whole other world? I would kill to read that, if it's not too personal for you to write :)