Never stop writing. And never stop writing for the right reasons.
Easier said than done, huh?
Do not write for the money or the fame or the joy of being recognized. Is it tempting? Yes. There is always a little devil on my shoulder that tells me to write so that I can become rich and famous. Pride makes be believe my work is better than yours, and that I should be lauded and applauded by adoring fans. Sound ridiculous?
I do not know why that voice is there. It is not me. Truth be told, I do not like being in front of people. Truth be told, there are many days I wish I could live in the wilderness and never see a living soul for months. And awards and accolades? I’ve thrown trophies away. They take up space and they really don’t mean much. A decade after I am dead, no one will remember who I am and what I did.
Whenever I want to humble my egotistical monster I go to Goodwill and browse through the piles of books at the back of the store. Or I go garage sale shopping and find the books in the free bin. I read the names of the authors and think, who is this?
I bet that author was so proud they got that book published. I bet they thought they were on top of the world. But no one knows who they are. Their book was never cherished in a glass bookcase. It ended up in a free bin.
I know that such an exercise sounds morbid, but it is the truth. I want to live in the truth of writing and in living as a writer. And the truth is that I probably won’t be successful. I probably won’t make the New York Times bestseller list. I probably won’t make a living writing. That my books also will end up at Goodwill. And do you know what? That is okay.
Writers seek publication because we have a message we desperately want to share. We are evangelists to a cause, a story, a process, a truth that we ourselves have learned. Yes, we should by all means seek publication, but we should seek publication with the right heart.
My children are hilarious. They do crazy things. And so many times I whip out my camera and take a picture of them so that I can remember that moment. I post that picture on a social media sight, not because that picture is ever going to be published in National Geographic or Time Magazine, but because my heart yearned to capture beauty and share it with those around me.
Keeping with the same metaphor, perhaps you were an explorer who happened upon an uncharted and unimaginable sight. It was a vista so beautiful, so moving you whipped out your camera and took a picture. Now, imagine you saw something equally moving but all you had were an easel and a paint brush. Could you reconstruct that image? No, you say, that would take me a lifetime of practice to be able to paint the beauty that I saw. What if I can’t capture it? What if I can’t truly share what it meant to me?
In the same way, writers, like the person without the camera, approach stunning and moving emotional vistas. Something captures us, a story, a moment, a thought and we need to share it. Writers do not have cameras, we only have a paint brush and an easel. The master writers, like the master painters can transform the white page into a vista. They can do this because they have practiced. Again and again they go to the page. Again and again they try and fail. They work so much their arm moves with liquid motion and balance. They know what colors to mix because they have been here before. They know how firmly to apply the stroke, how long to wait before applying another layer. They know how to use different mediums: water color, pastel, oil, chalk, graphite, charcoal. And soon, they forget what they are doing, because they’re heart and their brush are one.
We writers must purpose to write every day so that our brush can become an extension of our hearts. We read every day so that we can study the works and styles of other artists who do what we have struggled to do, and learn from them. And when the brush becomes an extension of ourselves the less we need to concentrate on the strokes and style, and we can concentrate on the the intangible thing that moved us. So when we write, we are not smearing words on a page, we are filling the page with darkness and light, love and loss, hideous desire and pure beauty.
Why should you write every day? So that we can have the ability to share the our secret vistas.
Commit to a writing schedule.
Once a week
Every other evening.
Find a writing schedule that works best for you and commit to it.