Writing fiction and nonfiction books can be an incredibly meaningful way to make a living. Unfortunately, it’s also an incredibly tough way to make a living. Book sales aren’t quite what they used to be, and lots of writers have to keep their day jobs. That’s a price many of us are willing to pay for publishing success, but even this deal is tough to come by. There are a lot more aspiring writers than there are spots on publishers’ lists. Authors face a lot of adversity. The ones who succeed have to work hard consistently, and that means they need plenty of motivation — and need to know how to replenish it, too.
Writers and adversity
It’s no secret that writing is a tough business. Margins are thin and rejection is easy to come by. In fact, even many bestselling novels and literary classics were rejected by agents and publishers many times before being seen for the works of genius that they were.
If books like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone were initially rejected by publishers, then what hope do we mere mortals have of getting recognition? That’s the kind of question that writers have to be able to push aside as they work hard to break through.
Good things come to those who work
Writers who dash off a few words here and there may be able to tell their friends and family that they are working to become authors, but they are not likely to be able to brag about a publishing deal until they really put their nose to the grindstone. Agents and publishers want finished work in most cases, particularly when it comes to novels from new writers. And first-time writers may have to work through their novels multiple times before the work is worthy of attention. The only way to keep moving forward as a writer is to work, work, work!
Most experts believe that, while talent is certainly important, writing can be taught and improved with instruction and practice. Writers who are truly dedicated will want to read voraciously and pay close attention to the ways in which established authors use their words, sentences, characters, and plots. Aspiring writers will also want to write as much as they can. Everyone works at a different pace, but the goal should be to sit down and truly work at writing for a significant period of time every single day. For bestselling author Stephen King, that means an incredible 2,000 words a day or more.
Writers may also want to consider getting formal instruction in the art of writing from an MFA program or a writing course.
This is a lot of work that goes into writing, and a lot of responsibility. It takes incredible commitment which is tough to achieve in the face of the adversity writers face. For writers to get where they’re going, they’ll need something else to fuel their work ethic: motivation.
Hoarding and cultivating motivation
Being a hard worker is good, but most of us are not inclined to labor ceaselessly on something we don’t believe in. If you work relentlessly but slowly lose your inspiration and motivation, you’ll find that your writing loses its beauty and your mission loses its purpose. To keep going through all of the adversity that writers face, you need to have motivation and inspiration.
That’s why writers should take time regularly — once a day, ideally — to remind themselves of why they are doing what they are doing. You can read a passage from a novel you admire and remind yourself that you want to create something as beautiful. Or you could review the stories of famous writers who have gone before you, reminding yourself of the many paths to success and the happy things that await. A few examples include Stephen King, who used to work at a laundry service, Caesar Rondina, who worked in health care for years before being inspired to change careers, and Ken Kesey who even spent time in jail! Writers face all kinds of setbacks and come from all kinds of backgrounds. They may work in fields they love before becoming writers later; they may work in fields they hate, biding their time and working hard to make a change. You, too, will have a journey all your own. And if you can keep your inspiration and motivation, turn those things into hard work, and use your hard work to hone your skills and produce memorable work, then you’ll succeed as a writer in the end.