“It is impossible to discourage the real writers — they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write.”
– Sinclair Lewis
I’ve heard many working writers tell would-be writers that they should give up before ever really trying.
There are many reasons for this:
- Some writers feel the industry is already too crowded.
- Some writers know it’s a profession that typically doesn’t pay well.
- Some writers know if somebody gives up that easily, they don’t have what it takes to be a writer and they’ve done everyone involved a favor by weeding that person out.
For every writer I’ve seen who tried discouraging would-be writers, I’ve seen piles of would-be writers absolutely sure they would make it writing.
- You talk with them at parties, and they go on and on about how they will one day be famous…
- You see them in school, talking about how once they graduate, they will go to Europe and write the Great American Novel.
- You see them at work, talking to people about what they plan to write, but never seeming to actually write.
One day, you see most of these writers stop and move on to “real jobs,” tossing writing aside for something more secure. (And there’s nothing wrong with that.)
But there are writers who don’t stop, no matter what.
Work, deaths in the family, illnesses, children, and other things don’t stop them. If something much bigger than a writer telling them to quit won’t stop them, nothing will.
These are the writers with the best odds of making it; these are the writers who keep their heads down and write no matter what gets in the way.
Are you this kind of writer?
The odds are stacked against us all. If those odds don’t discourage you and you’re willing to put a decade or two into something most people drop after dabbling, you increase your odds of making it each week.
It’s the beginning of the week for most of us, so get busy writing!
Good post, something I’ve been thinking about. As I continue to revise and write my manuscript, I find myself continually revising my reasons for writing. One day this thing will get released, and I can easily look ahead to that time and fall into the mindset of your would-be writers. But the more I go on, the more I realize this is just going to be something I wanted to have, copies sold and legions of fans be damned.
Christopher Gronlund says
My views about writing have changed a lot over time, too, Jason.
I started out writing independent comics books. The first thing I ever wrote for publication was picked up. While another book I wrote didn’t sell a lot of copies, it received positive reviews in industry magazines and was endorsed by comic creators and the New York Times News Service.
So I thought, “Hey, this is the way it’s supposed to work.”
When I moved on to screenplays, I had a screenplay advance in a large competition, which resulted in a couple studios considering two screenplays I wrote.
Articles I wrote sold, and while my first novel was rejected, agents liked it and wanted to see more.
So I was sure that I’d be one of those people who made it full time, and everything I wrote was with the goal of publishing.
The writing that got attention was writing I had fun working on, but it wasn’t necessarily the stuff I really wanted to be working on. After dealing with a health issue, I decided, “Screw it–I’m gonna write what I want, even if it takes longer to complete, and even if it may be harder to see published.”
I’m currently unemployed, and it would have probably been a wiser thing to focus on articles and the kinds of writing I’ve had an easier time selling. But I want to finish something I’ve worked on, here and there, over the years. It’s more involved than anything I’ve ever attempted. I shelved my second novel, which probably has better odds of selling, to work on something more challenging.
It’s what I want to write right now more than anything, and while I’m hoping it will get attention when it’s finally proofread and polished, if it’s totally ignored, I will still have grown more as a writer in recent years than in all the years before that put together.
Good luck with what you’re working on, Jason. Hell, maybe success finally comes when we stop thinking about a big payoff and just think about how much we love writing and doing the best we can do regardless of what happens when a manuscript is done.
Hopefully we’ll both get a break.
Take care, and thanks for the comment.
Thanks for sharing that. I’d be interested to know what the project of burning desire was, but maybe I’ll have to wait until I see it on a bookshelf. Hopefully you’re able to make it work and everything will work out just the way they need to. Talk to you later!
Christopher Gronlund says
The project of burning desire is the current work in progress. It’s called Promise, and it’s about a recently divorced celebrity chef who sells his Chicago restaurants and moves to a small town in northern Wisconsin right about the time the most hated person in town goes missing.
The second novel was the first in a series of paranormal mysteries set in 20s/30s Chicago. It was something that started out as a comic book, but that stopped when the company I was working with stopped printing books. (That was pretty common with independent comic books at the time…probably still is…)
We’ll see what happens with this book. Even if nothing happens, it’s the book I wanted to write, and I always have the second novel to polish and fall back on, or something else.
The most important thing is to stay busy and keep moving…