by Melony Teague @MelonyTeague
My husband wants me to be the next J.K. Rowling. (He’s so cute.) I suppose it is important to have dreams and all, but I think his belief in me is a tad misplaced. I think he just wants to retire and leave me to make millions. Sadly, I don’t think that is how things work in a writer/author’s world. Well, not for most of us.
As a freelance writer I make enough to pay some of the bills, and I am also able to be home for my teenagers. Both these things are important to me as a mom. Let’s face it, this writer’s life is a little crazy and I think you have to be slightly loopy to pursue it as a hobby, let alone as a career. The longer you have been at it, the more you question your own sanity—I speak only for myself here.
So why do we write?
It’s not for fame and fortune, so what makes us put in those 10 000 Gladwell hours* to improve or craft? What makes us put one word in front of another until we have a completed manuscript? What sustains us while we pull that same manuscript apart and cry over the darlings we must murder, the words that don’t seem to want to “play nice” and get that book baby polished? Let’s not even get started on the rest of the process to get your work in print.
Other than the week long thrill when you get your first actual, real smell-so-good copies of your published book, what sustains our drive to write more? Let’s face it, being a writer is about 2 % glamorous and 98% hard work. Okay, I suppose I should have allowed at least 10 % for consuming coffee/tea and procrastinating before the panic of deadline sets in. But then I’d have to do math and figure the percentages over again.
We all have goals we want to reach, but WHY do we want to reach those goals? Back to the question, why do we write?
Every so often we as writers reassess. We have to keep our WHY front and center so that we can sustain ourselves through this journey. My reason for writing may be different to yours, but the important part is that we KNOW why we are doing what we are doing?
Is writing part of your calling? Is it your job? Is it your passion? Or perhaps, all three?
Do you have a mission statement up on your office wall to remind you of your WHY?
Do you have something that keeps you focused when you would rather curl up in a ball and give it all up? If we don’t keep sight of our WHY, the how and when becomes murky.
As much as we are a community of writers who support and cheer one another on, when it comes down to it, only you can decide whether your WHY is strong enough to sustain you through the blood, tears and sleepless nights. In the end we all want to leave behind a part of ourselves in our work.
Writing is not all torture. It is also joyful, fulfilling, exciting, and at the end of the day, it has to be worth it. Your WHY has to be strong enough. Go forth and conquer, my fearless writer friends. But before you do, have a good long think about your own WHY.
* (Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success)
About Melony Teague
Aside from her passion for reading, reviewing and writing she is determined to master coffee art, even if it takes her a decade to get it right. Born in South Africa, she now lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, two teenagers and two cats.
As the Ink Flows
As the Ink Flows is a devotional by writers for writers, integrating the craft of working with words with the faith of people of the Word to deepen, sustain, and expand ministry in the world. This collection of 90 devotions features a focus Scripture, a brief meditation on the text and the writing experience, and a prompt for personal reflection and creative response.
Written by five members of a Christian writers' group, As the Ink Flows offers inspiration and encouragement for writers and speakers who want to connect their convictions and their craft for the glory of God and the equipping of God's people.
Well said, Melony. Knowing why we write can keep us going, and even keep us focused on what we choose to write. I wonder if the why changes as we progress on the journey. At first we may write because we have a shiny idea we want to explore. Eventually, as I wrestled with the question of was it worth pouring so much time into something with no guarantee it'd ever be published, I saw it was a gift God had given me. Even if that gift was only to bless my own life, I gave myself permission to embrace it and enjoy it. Part of embracing it is investing the work to improve my craft so it's the best offering I can give. Now that I'm published, the other part of my "why" is a desire to not only give readers a good story but to give them something that may encourage an aspect of their faith.ReplyDelete
This comment has been removed by the author.Delete
It sure is a gift. Some days we need to be reminded of that fact. Blessings.Delete
Thanks for sharing Janet. I do think there is a sort of evolution to the "why" for sure. When the going gets tough, you have to have one. And it needs to be a sustainable reason. Sounds like you have found some great reasons.ReplyDelete
Hi Melony! Thank you so much for this reminder of "why?" we write. Yes, I keep my "why" ever before me. I'm still a writer in training. My reason may sound profound or original. I write because I have too! There it is simple. I was honoured to have four of my stories published last year in an anthology of grief entitled "Good Grief People" with some amazing writers. I have a particular target audience in mind. I write for a particular audience. "They are those who feel hard pressed by the burdens they struggle with in life. They are those screaming at God for the unfairness that has violated their lives. I write for those who grieve everyday that their children have been robbed of life. I write for those trying to make their way through the tunnel of depression. They deserve a voice to encouraging them to know they are not alone." My writing reflects life to me. I never thought of a mission statement for my writing. Thank you for this idea. Please keep writing ok? Bless you!ReplyDelete
Thank you Alan for sharing. Blessings to you too as you write out your mission statement.Delete
Alan, being able to describe your audience in such detail is not only a great way to shape what you write, but it sounds like a great motivator to keep writing. You don't want to let them down!Delete
Hi Melony, lovely to 'meet' you on the ICFW blog. Why do we write? Great question.ReplyDelete
My response is I write to answer questions I have. The Lord helps me work through questions particularly of a spiritual nature and in so doing draws me ever closer to Him.
Hope to see you again soon on the blog. And hey, I hope you become the next JK too. Someone's gotta be, so why not it be you, Melony. :)
Hi Ian, thank you so much for your encouragement. I think being a writer goes hand in hand with asking questions, at least, it does for me. ( It's the journalist in me)Delete
Keep asking those questions. And keep writing.