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Success as a Writer

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could hand you the steps to success? Haven't you fantasized about finding the formula like some long-forgotten treasure hidden away in the attic for several years, collecting dust and just waiting to be employed by an enterprising writer–like you?

Maybe you've even believed the blueprint existed.

Like anyone, I've secretly longed to find that plan. I've imagined it as a golden list of time-saving short-cuts or a nice clear map to follow to the promise of perfect publishing bliss. Maybe it's our weaker selves who harbor this shameful hope to avoid the time and practice the art and skill of writing requires. But it's not uncommon. I'd wager that for writers it's near universal.

Of course, part of us, the wiser part, realizes if we got all we wished for and ended up easily writing bestselling books, we might quickly find out we weren’t prepared to handle the responsibilities and pressures that come with it. Why are we so easily convinced we should find that mystical land assumed to be “Success” anyway, or that we’d even like it when we got there?

Looking back, we can see it’s a good thing we don’t always get what we believe we're after. In all likelihood, the treasure, had we found it, would have ruined us.

I think there are a few stories about this very thing.

Wisdom has taught us that there’s a journey, a struggle involved in the process. And this isn’t really a bad thing, however impatient we may feel. I think this is something every new writer has to face, maybe it's the first lesson of great writing—that it involves hard work. And that's the very thing that makes it so valuable when you do finally achieve it.

While there are several prerequisites to great writing, the hard work is a given, and it's really grueling, certainly not the kind most people prefer. Refining excellent, mature work requires intense internal focus and mental discipline that ends up draining and depleting the very heart and soul of you. And though I don't know, I wonder if it's the most taxing non-physical exertion there is. I do know that even those with uncommonly strong will power and stamina will find their commitment challenged and their daily lives reduced to a shadow of the former. At least for the time of editing and refining.

And then there's the proselytizing to worry about too.

But what we're really doing as these stubborn wordsmiths of wonder is not dreaming of an easy way out, but always searching, searching, searching for new ways to grow our awareness. Of the world, ourselves, the lives around us, and the all-important interrelationships of these most essential nouns. The verbs and mechanics are of course important too, and it's because all of this matters to the end product that we know the sacrifices will be great.

SO my encouragement to you is to believe in the treasure right before you! Be persistent in your application of all the learning you've acquired. Hope for the easy days, and there will be some, but you know better than to give the dream of easy leisure too much credence. Instead, believe in the hope that the time and trouble it costs you will be worthwhile, time spent in the most valuable way imaginable, in growing your awareness of the nouns and the art of translating their beauty to the page.

Is it worth your all to become a more astute observer of everything, and to fashion those thoughts into the most beautiful and revealing form? Do you trust that if you were called, you were also made capable of meeting that call?

Remember: it's always, in the end, a question of what you believe the real treasure is….

8 Responses to “Success as a Writer”

  1. Jan Cline says:

    I fantasize about just getting it right. Yet, I know that “right” is subjective and my purpose for writing may not be the same as someone else’s. If we were smart, we would not resist the journey, knowing that it’s actually the gem of our travels – not the destination itself. Im trying to be more of the “slow down and take in the scenery” type of writer and person.

  2. Kathleen_overby@verizon.net says:

    I’m hearing Regina Spektor singing with you at the end. :)

  3. Mick says:

    Good on ya, Jan! You’re definitely swimming against the current if you do that! Welcome to the good life…
    And turn up the Regina Spektor.

  4. Mary DeMuth says:

    I am completely thankful my first book didn’t take off (or my 2nd, 3rd…12th). Though it’s been hard to not meet with bestseller success (in terms of not seeing reward for my labor in that particular way), I’m thankful for the journey. God knows. He knows. I would’ve become a Me Monster had I met with early success.

  5. Lots of wisdom here. I don’t want anything until the Lord knows I’m ready for it. A best-seller garners a lot of attention. I don’t *think* I’m an introvert–! LOL

  6. After reading your previous blog and reading the review on Higher Calling about “God in the Yard” I went out to the dock early this morning just to pay attention to things; to heighten my awareness. You followed with this today and it sealed these things in my mind. We – all of us – miss so much. Maybe our task is just to notice and to call attention to what we notice…so that others will notice. What’s He’s done, what He’s made, Who He is – it’s all so worth our notice.

  7. Perfect timing again for me. Thank you, Mick! I so felt like quitting last night and when I first woke up this AM. but dear Jesus whispered His love to me once more and then I read this. The last line is, has to be the clincher for me…what is the real treasure? Is He worth it? Is proclaiming Him, His faithfulness, goodness, mercy, grace and love worth it? And that, in the end is the only question that will see me through because if I knew how much more difficult it is to write for publication than to write for free I probably would never have started…
    P.S. You are a grand writer, yourself ;)

  8. Joyce Wilkens says:

    Thank you for the inspirational messages at the Spokane Christian Writer’s Conference, as well as your blog messages here. I hope you are enjoying the book.

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