A few weeks ago I had a conversation with my older brother about wanting to be fifteen years younger but still retain the knowledge and experience I have today. He, quite wisely pointed out that this was a concept always in flux, and that I’ll probably think the same thing in fifteen years time. I hate it when my big brother is right!
That said, I’ve come across 5 sayings that have really helped me as a writer and a person, and given me wisdom and motivation when I’ve needed it. So, no matter what your age now, I pass them onto you to help and guard you against life in all it’s crap and glory.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
This is an essential lesson to all writers. It’s little steps towards the whole. There is so much more involved in creating a book than just writing. There’s plot, structure, research, editing, drafting, character arcs and so much more, and if you try to think about all these things when you write, you’ll go mad. The journey will seem too long, and you’ll give up. But, if you take one aspect at a time, and make small steps, you can get to your destination. It won’t be easy, but nothing good in life ever is!
You shouldn’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm
I’m a closet people-pleaser. I really want to make the people around me happy, and I’ve been a sweet, funny girl for most of my life who has put others above herself, most of the time to the detriment of my own sense of self. Then I stopped. Not cold turkey, I still help other writers, I run a free writers’ group for adults and workshops for teen writers, but I’ve stopped being a push-over. I no longer write stories for publishers for free, and I ensure that I don’t lose personal time that could be allocated to my manuscripts. It’s hard at times, it goes against my nature, but sacrificing your own dreams for others may be noble but is incredibly stupid. There’s no medal in it for you and, I’ve learnt the hard way that there are some people out there that will gladly take all you have to give without giving back.
If you’re not first, you’re last
Okay, so this is from the Will Ferrell film, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and on the face of it looks crazy, but when you boil it down, it really is excellent advice. In a world where kids get participation trophies, and everyone is praised for trying, we’ve lost sight of the win. That’s right. I said it. The win. Writers still have to compete for publishing contracts, prizes and opportunities. The feeling you get when you have a publisher say ‘yes’ to you is fantastic, and it is because you worked your ass off for it. You put the time in, you paid your dues, and you deserve the win! Writers who stumble into big publishing deals are few and far between, the majority have a book with their name on because they pushed themselves and crossed the finish line.
This too shall pass
I’m not religious, but this saying from The Bible has stood the test of time. As a writer, you get a lot of rejection, and as much as you try to take it on the chin, at some point it will get you down, it has to, you’re only human. But just remember that the dark sticky feeling that is clinging to your soul right now, won’t be there forever, in fact, it might be gone by lunchtime (if you’re lucky) There’s a story about people who survived their suicide attempt of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Once airborne they quickly realised that all those problems in their lives were actually pretty easy to fix or get past, apart from one… that they jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. Creative people suffer a lot, we feel too much and think too hard, and this is a dismal combination in terms of happiness. I’m not saying you need to ball up your emotions and push them away, in fact, you should feel them, accept them and know…this too shall pass.
A year from now, you’ll wish you started today
This is the saying that had me write a 90K novel in thirty days (the first draft, I’m in the process of editing) It’s far too easy to put your writing off, to daydream about how great it would be to be an author. To have a book top the charts and make enough money so you can write full time. But if all you do is that, you’ll never even get close to your dreams. You need to think about future-you and the life you want to live. Writing takes the time, energy and a passion that few possess, but do you know what? I think you have what it takes, so what do you say? Want to start writing today?
Did you enjoy this blog? Then you’ll probably enjoy my books too. My two YA series, Battle of the Undead and The Twisted and the Brave are available on Amazon.