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What I Didn’t Understand About Being A Successful Writer Is That Perseverance Is Key
I wrote a book and published it in 2016. Then I didn’t do any writing for 3 years. That was my big mistake right there, stepping out of the race.
It was crazy and stupid and wasteful of me to stop. I had a good chunk of momentum and great reviews on Amazon. A bunch of readers loved it and I had a lot of fun handing out copiers to friends and family. All I had to do was write some more words and I would have been in the game. I even had a couple of raving fans. Instead, I let fear shut me down. I walked away from writing.
Deep down, I knew that I was turning my back on something special. I let down the most important person in my life: me.
I had good excuses for my lack of writing. Who doesn’t? I was really busy with twelve-hour workdays and a disruptive schedule that had me traveling frequently. I was focused on yoga and meditation and couldn’t let my daily practices slip just to write. I didn’t have any new ideas. I had plenty of time to get into writing again later. That book didn’t make much money and publishing it was expensive anyway. I wore out my tiny little violin playing a sad little tune of how little time I had.
I put away my writer’s hat and focused on working entirely too hard for other people. Head down, ass up, for two full years. My written words were silenced by inactivity. I stagnated like a still pond full of sad, soggy phrases and metaphors that slowly sank to the bottom to rot.
In the very end of 2018, I ran into a friend in a shop. “Why aren’t you writing?” she asked playfully. “That’s what you’re supposed to be doing, you know. Stop wasting time and express yourself.” I didn’t have an answer.
That stuck with me. I went home and thought about it, a lot. I didn’t really want to face the facts about my short writing career, but I did. Slowly I came back to the idea that I could still be an author. Not only that, but I enjoyed the process and getting my words out there. I had things to say.
I called her up with a challenge. I asked her to help me write a book that explored our shared passion for meditation. She agreed, and we started outlining the book that day. I set a daily word count schedule so we could get the job done.
Four months later, we published The 90 Day Meditation Challenge. For a brief time in 2019, I was a writer again.
We had a lot of fun launching and promoting that book. Great feedback, and readers who emailed us and left reviews. It was a life-affirming experience.
We made a tiny bit of money. Podcasters interviewed us and made us feel like successes. We signed some books.
But we both stopped writing. We made a big push, got the writing and editing out of the way, and stopped. I stopped for the second time, even though I knew better. For four months I was an active writer, and then I was just a guy who wrote a book but no longer writes.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m extremely glad that I have those books out there with my name on them. It was a worthwhile and rewarding experience. I learned a lot about book publishing, hopefully, a bit about writing, and maybe even helped a few readers. But it didn’t make me into a writer. It was a hobby.
I was treating writing like a runner who only enters a race once every few years, but never trains in between. I had no endurance. Sure, I could sprint a hundred yards. But there was no way I could run a 5K race, and a half marathon or a full marathon was out of the question.
Anyone can run 100 yards if they have to. Does that make them a runner? Most would say no.
I have a lot of respect for anyone that writes full-time. It takes mental endurance to keep going day in and day out, whether you feel like writing or not.
I am going to make a solid effort during this time in self-isolation to build my writing endurance and join those marathon writers. I’m in it for the long haul.
Image by christoph_mschrd from Pixabay
Article Writing Is The Perfect Opportunity For Me Right Now and Writing Another Book Is Not
I don’t have an employer anymore. I was laid off. The government told me to go home and stay there until further notice. I’m going to look on the bright side and use this as an opportunity. Life threw down the gauntlet in a challenge. I accept.
I am doing my best to write every single day. This is my new day job, until further notice! And when I get right down to what makes me want to do this, I find out that money has very little to do with it.
Writing articles is entirely different than writing a book. The work is in much smaller chunks, easier to swallow. If I start a new piece and it’s terrible, I’m only throwing away a day’s work. If I get partway in and lose focus, I can just start another article and let the troubled offspring sit on the back burner to tackle later.
By contrast, finishing a book manuscript is daunting. Starting a new book is scary because of the huge commitment. And getting to the end of a rough draft defeats many would-be book authors. They end up walking away from the project. Then, once you do get that book out there? You need to get writing again. Not an easy thing to do.
I might write another book later. I have plenty of ideas. Right now, I want to become an ultramarathoner of words instead.
Money Is Not My Motivation Today
I love money. I want more. If I start making money from writing daily, I will be ecstatic and smile a lot. But that’s not why I’m going to write every single damn day of this lock-down, and beyond. I want to be a writer. I love reading. I love writing.
I already know what it feels like to write a book, and then not write anything for two years. It feels like a complete failure. People ask all the time what you wrote lately. When you make excuses and look away, you know the truth.
A runner runs. A painter paints. A chef cooks. And a writer writes.
Whoever heard of a runner that only walks? That would make them a walker, right?
I need to write or I’m not a writer. End of story.