What It Really Takes to Be a Writer

What It Really Takes to Be a Writer

What It Really Takes to Be a Writer
Photo by Andrew J. Hong

What It Really Takes to Be a Writer

There's just something about writing that makes us write. Even through all the muck, we keep on writing. When we're not writing, we feel like we should be.

But it's easy to push our writing dreams aside; writing is hard, rejection is heartbreaking, procrastination is easy.

It's easier to just let go of the dreams we have and settle for a life of mediocrity. When I think about this idea of settling, I think about modern sitcoms. The families just live day in, day out. There's no strive to better themselves. They carry on with their lives without doing anything out of the ordinary. Where is the motivation? Where is the passion for doing what they love?

The thing about following our passions is that it requires a certain amount of work. There's no sitting on the couch wasting away in front of the TV or the computer screen. There's no chitchatting with friends, family, or neighbors whenever you (or they) feel like it. If you want to focus on your writing goals, you need to do just that: focus.

But why focus if you don't also attempt to sell (or publish) your work? My guess is that, if you are serious about writing, you also want to sell your work so you can write full-time. Am I right?

Following your passion to be a writer takes guts, too. When everyone around you is settling for a mediocre life, following your passion for writing can seem like traveling upstream. The undercurrent keeps you off your feet and swimming against the current gets tiresome. It's just easier to give up and let the current sweep you along down the river.

Have you ever given up on your writing dreams?

I have. I've tried to push them aside over the last ten years and now here I am writing about writing. I didn't have the positivity to keep me going. I figured I would never make money writing and that it was just a pipe dream. I thought that I needed to focus on getting a job so I could make money. So, my writing got pushed aside. What was the point? It was tough work and why should I put myself through that?

Well now, I regret not giving my writing the attention it deserved. That urge and desire to write never went away. I don't think it ever does. If we're meant to write, we must write. But I've realized that I need to focus on my passion for fiction. It doesn't matter if I make money with it or not — I need to do it so I can live a life of happiness. And now, I'm doing what I love: helping other writers improve their stories and characters.

It also takes guts to open ourselves up to our readers. When we write about what we're passionate about, we make ourselves vulnerable. We expose what goes on inside our minds. We share a little piece of ourselves with our readers, and we open ourselves up to criticism, especially from our family and friends if they actually read our work. And it takes guts to handle rejection on a regular basis and to keep writing and revising even when we think our writing sucks.

Guts aren't enough though. If we want to be a writer, we need the motivation to write, too. Enough motivation so that we actually sit down to write.

Even when we have all of these things, it still isn't enough to keep moving forward toward our writing goals. We must take an offensive stance against every form of resistance that comes our way and threatens to steal our writing dreams.

The truth of the matter is, no one and nothing can keep us from that thing we're passionate about. Only we have the power to control what we focus on. We are in charge of our lives. Certain circumstances may dictate how much time we can spend on our passions, but no one can actually stop us from working on them.

Do you want to be a writer? Are you doing what you love?

Jody Calkins
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