Friday, November 4, 2011

Six reasons to keep writing

I woke up today and didn't want to write. I wanted to do anything but write. I felt, What's the use, it's never been a happen, I'm never going to be able to earn a significant portion of my living from my writing. But I know with that sort of attitude only one thing is guaranteed: I'm guaranteed to fail. So I wrote this blog post with myself in mind.

1. You owe it to yourself.

If earning your living from writing is your dream, the only way your dream is going to come true is if you keep at it. There's only one person who can make your dream come true: You. Remember, if this were easy then everyone would be doing it. There's a reason they're not.

2. If you try you will succeed.

I'm not saying that if you try you'll get rich, or that you try you will be able to earn enough money from your writing to quit your day job – that would be nice, though! What will happen is that you won't have given up on your dream and, yes this sounds corny, but that's success. You'll be a writer. There's a reason why the phrase, 'starving writer,' trips off the tongue so easily.

3. If you don't try, you'll always wonder, 'what if?'

They say that at the end of life as you look back at what you've done, what you've accomplished, you don't regret the things you did, you regret the things you didn't do. I don't know if that's true, but it sounds right to me.

4. It's a marathon, not a sprint

You've heard this one before. Personally, I think it's like a series of triathlons!

5. Variety is the spice of life

When you get bored, try something new. Something I'm trying out is Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I hadn't heard about this software until a couple of weeks ago when I came across a number of author blogs talking about the fantastic results they had been getting with it. (No, this is not advertisement for Dragon NaturallySpeaking!)

When I picked up the software last week, I thought that this might be a way of getting another half hour per day to write. It takes me 15 minutes to walk to work, but if I could use a digital recorder to dictate parts of my story, perhaps even a blog post, I could squeeze another 30 from the day.

I haven't tried that yet, but something unexpected has happened. This new way of writing – perhaps I can't, or shouldn't, call this writing; perhaps I should call it speaking – has made the words come easier, has reinvigorated me.

One thing Dragon NaturallySpeaking had been excellent for is transcribing my longhand notes. Often when I get an idea for a story I write it out longhand and these notes can run to hundreds of pages! Over the past few days I have been faced with the task of typing in about 50 or 60 pages of notes, something that takes me a long time to do. Last night, using Dragon, I transcribed the lion share of my notes in about half an hour! Perhaps it's the novelty that made it seem effortless – and fun! – But it seemed to go much faster, and I'm a fast typist.

6. Bribery works

I love books, especially journals. New journals. Over my lifetime I've filled bookcases with journals covered in my scribbling. (And, no, I'm not a serial killer!) For me, if I need special motivation, I tell myself, "Self, all you need to do is fill up this journal and you can buy yourself a new one." And, believe it or not this often works.

Okay, I don't know about you, but it's NaNoWriMo time and I'm all fired up to write! Talk to you tomorrow. :)

(PS: I wrote this post using Dragon NaturallySpeaking.)

8 comments:

  1. Karen,

    This was a fascinating post.

    You've obviously been writing for many years. I'm curious to know whether the new possibilities with e-publishing have changed your perspective on the goal of becoming a full-time writer.

    Do you feel more or less optimistic about the prospect? Or, put otherwise, do you think it is now easier, harder, or somewhere in between?

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  2. Hi Robert :) While I've written for many years, it has only been the past few months -- in fact, only a few months before I published Until Death in July -- that I have thought seriously of turning an obsession into a ... what are they calling it? A revenue stream?

    But, for what it's worth, I think that it's probably equally difficult to make a living as a writer whether one goes the independent or traditional route.

    The indie route gives one more control and allows one to grow ones base over months and (more likely) years -- the big challenge here is: does one have the stamina?

    With the traditional route, and with publishers becoming more cautious and many agents packing it in, the opportunities for a beginning writer to be discovered are diminishing. That said, if one gets picked up by a traditional publisher, they can give one the kind of promotion that one just can't generate on ones own (Amanda Hocking is the exception, not the rule), at least in the beginning.

    Whichever way one ultimately decides to jump (and, of course, the choices aren't mutually exclusive!), I don't think there's a downside to trying to build a platform. In any case, having a good platform can only help.

    If, that is, one can fit writing in between blog posts! ;)

    As always, thanks for the comment Robert.

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  3. Now that I think about it, writing is more like a triathlon than a marathon.

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  4. Karen,

    Thanks, I appreciate your thoughts on this.

    Your response got me thinking about something I hadn't thought of before. It would seem likely that many of the self-publishers posting their first book on the Kindle Store and elsewhere aren't going to return with a second or third. That is, once the less committed writers realize how daunting it is to market their work to a sizable audience, to connect with readers, etc., the romance will quickly fade.

    It is, as you say, all about stamina and perseverance.

    I think many writers will be up to it, but like anything else, the ranks will thin out the higher up the chain you go...

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  5. Robert, that's true! lol Not that I wish my fellow writers ill, but I suppose that could be the silver lining: the longer one perseveres the greater one's chances of success.

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  6. Hi Bill, loved your blog on facing ones fears!

    I've never done either a marathon or a triathlon. Frankly, I think being outdoors in that much fresh air and sunlight could kill me after being holed up in my writing dungeon. :p

    Thanks for the comment!

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  7. Reason seven:

    People want to read your next book. Just sayin'. Keep at it (maybe have the cats chip in a little by not demanding so much attention).

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  8. lol I'll mention it to them! Perhaps lure them to their basket with catnip.

    Thanks for the encouragement! I appreciate it.

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