Ever had one of those days when you just feel like screw everything, nothing’s going to happen/get done, why bother keep going? I know I have. This may sound familiar cause I’ve talked about doubt in “The Old Battle” post earlier this year. (Sorry for writing about so many
depressing things, but this won’t be too bad.) This is not so much about doubt but motivation. Purpose rather. Purpose and answering not why bother keep going but why DO I go in the first place?
Now I have a lot of passion for writing, if you could not already tell, and I think this is critical in finding purpose. Passion is the fire, that intimate reward that gets the words from your noodle and onto the page. Passion, as great as it may be, is empty without purpose. Purpose is that reminder for you to keep you going, the cogs and wheels of the writing machine fueled by the burning fire of passion.
You got a rubbish first draft done, great (it’s okay for it to be rubbish by the way, let yourself write bad. Editing is fun part…), purpose gets you past that, gets you past the inner critic winning The Old Battle, gets you to the final discussion with your friends about your polished-as-you-can-make-it fifty-billionth draft. Purpose gets you negotiating with publishers and telling that ass hole of a classmate in college you talked to about your future as a writer with exactly where he/she can find your book in the New Releases section of Barnes&Noble.
Part of purpose deals with knowing what you want to write. If you want to write fiction, genre if you like, because you like it well that’s passion. Maybe it’s purpose too, depends on what part of your life you’re in, how confident you are. Why do you want to write that genre? Why do you like it? If you’re having trouble with getting confidence or tripping over the drafting process, these are questions you should be asking yourself. Finding purpose will help you on your way to reassuring yourself you’re on the right track. I know starting out I needed reassurance about what I was doing. I was new at the game. Cold feet are natural when starting out on a great new journey.
Do you want to write for your family? For your city/town? For your country? Perhaps you say “screw everyone else, I’m gonna write for myself because it’s what I want.” Whatever it may be, find it. Being an author is not going to result in immediate gratification, unless you have name recognition and you don’t write for money. This is good. Starting out like this will, in my opinion, yield to many years of joy and success. Money is too easy a goal to achieve, even though it is nice when it fills your stomach and pays for your hot water and electricity. You can get any 9 to 5 job (hell we’ll probably all have one before we’re writing for a living) and have your purpose in that be for money. Purpose for acquiring money via publishing will only get you so far, and your art will reflect that. Go deeper. Hold your breath, grow gills and webbed feet if you have to, and swim deeper. Find the sunken treasure not of gold but of “emotional” substance. I say emotional for want of a better word. Art is not in the pursuit of riches, but of an enrichment of the world (for want of a better word), in order to educate as well as entertain the readership we yearn for. I, for example, write for the potential to make a difference in lives, speak on behalf of those who have no voice, and relate to others who live totally different lives than me. Jo Rowling said something similar in her 2008 Harvard Commencement Speech. Do not chose to write for something that is only valuable in civilized society. I write in the hopes that I can improve the dark times someone is stuck in or compliment the good. To have influence over others, to wield the power of compassion and empathy and not caring about where someone comes from as long as they open the book and connect with the characters and story just as the writer did, that is something far greater than any bank account. It is subtle. It works in the shadows, which is our office. We are observers. Quietly pulling the strings of those who could not know any better. As Stephen King once said “writer’s are the secret agents of the arts.”
I too write for me. I love doing this. It lets me connect with others in the realm of imagination. I learn from the characters of my stories and watch them become so developed, they become for all intents and purposes alive, and I find it hard to believe they came from my mind! Also for the escape. I like my alone time, sue me. I hope I can achieve my goals of connecting with people through my writing, so we may have conversation, share laughter and pensive thought. With hard work and purpose all this is possible. Just know you have to keep going, until you get what you want.