“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
— Helen Keller
Believe it or not success looks different for everyone. Some might think of success as fame, or as having a big house with a nice car, while others prefer to serve the community and live modestly. These are all great “big picture” ideas and they absolutely deserve to be on your vision board, but this is just the best place to start. You know what you want perfect now what other things do you need?
Your how? At what cost? What will keep you going?
How will you get your house and car?
This is vital. You might say, “Well, Sasch, obviously I’m going to get a job.” And yes, that seems obvious, but there are people out here that gain these things without working a day in their life. So let’s talk about it. How are you going to gain this level of success? Is it from a lover, building your own business, stock, invention, working in a field you love, working regardless if you love your job or not? There’s a million different way to get there. So really sit down and think about what actions you are going to take to become that successful.
At what cost?
At what cost are you willing to gain this level of success? It’s important, very important to flesh out what you’re not willing to lose in order to gain your ideal level of success. If you’re willing to lose it all, you might just do that. But if you prefer to have people, places, or things you’re not willing to give up to have your dream house, note those things. This helps to set boundaries. It helps to respect yourself and your values. For me, I’m not willing to lose my loved ones for my success. I want them here with me through all of my successful days.
What will keep you going?
Ok so now you’re there, you’re successful. You look around and appreciate what you worked hard for? Now what? You can’t just stop. You have to maintain at this point, so…
When writing a character, it’s the wounds that guide their decision making. Unless something divine intervenes, when the character is left to make their own decisions, that decision must be made with their old wounds in mind. Whether it makes them use courage and face something head on, or if it makes them a coward (in the most honest term) and avoid any confrontation. Or maybe it just makes them take a second longer to make an unbiased decision. Anyway, the past must be taken into account with decision making. It tells the reader if the character is learning, if the character is ending up to be quite the bore which hopefully places the spotlight on other more interesting characters, or more excitedly is it pushing the character in a negative way causing negative reactions or villainous behavior. dum dum dummmm….
In life, we’ve got to understand our wounds like our character’s wounds. We will make decisions based on our past traumas. It’s up for us to decide if we will allow those wounds to make us stronger or turn us into our own villains. Or if our avoidance behavior is going to remove us from our own story.
Don’t remove yourself from your own story. We need you in all your glory to show up.
As writers, it’s important to value the process, but it’s trusting in your writing that helps deliver it to world. When I find myself doubting my work, it brings me down. I get writers block. I can get overly frustrated while I’m creating, so then I can’t get it finished. That’s when creating isn’t fun for me anymore. So, we need to trust our writing because it helps us to be confident in what we’re creating. We need to write because it saves people. So here’s seven ways to trust your writing so the world can keep on survive.
“If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
Know your purpose
Once you know why you’re writing, it makes it easier to stay committed to your work. It gives your work a rich touch that’s unique to you. Use your purpose, goals, and values as beacons to get you through the rough patches. There’s a million reasons to quit, but you only need one to keep going. Discipline is great. Motivation is great. Determination is great. But none of those things are going to push you through your doubts, your blocks, and whatever else the universe throws at you. Find your purpose and let it distract you from all the reasons you have to quit.
Always take time to acknowledge your efforts
If you’re a writer, your work begins before you put fingers to keyboard. Whatever writing you’re working on, remind yourself how far you’ve come to get to this point. Recognize your efforts so that you can feel confident about your current skill level. Then keep moving forward.
“Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea.” -Edward de Bono
Understand that you’re contribution is valuable
What you have to share is irreplaceable. We are still discovering artists from centuries ago. You never know who you are inspiring by putting your writing out there. There’s a lot of shy people who fear speaking up to support your writing, but they still are moved by it. If for the briefest moment you rescue someone from a dark place, your work has fulfilled its purpose. This world has only a handful of moments that are pure beauty buried in the midst of a whole lot of bullshit. It doesn’t matter how you look at it. Dead is dead, gone is gone, and sometimes we are so lonely we can’t get out of bed. We need your work to get out of bed. We need your work to take one more breath. We need your work to remind us that there are times when everything is not ok and even then, we can still bask in a moment of bliss.
Start new everyday
Wake up with brand new expectations for the writing that needs to be done. Let go of whatever you didn’t finish the previous day and just focus on finishing your goals for that day. You may ask, well what if I get behind? Yes, that is a great question. I used to overwhelm myself when I didn’t complete my task list and it would snowball throughout the week until Friday came and I was ready quit because I could never catch back up. I’d find my self wrapped up with what I didn’t complete the day before. When I began to start everyday as a new day, the snowball effect disappeared, and I was still getting my work done in a mindful manor. Also, knowing that tomorrow is a fresh start and my work won’t snowball, means if I don’t push myself a bit harder to finish it, it’s not getting done. Which will put me past my deadline. It’s effective. Start everyday as a new day and don’t allow the unfinished work snowball into an anxious mess.
Don’t overthink it
A good chunk of the time, it’s important for me to just throw my work out there. If I edit a piece too much it can lose its initial meaning. It’s ok to allow your writing to evolve, but don’t ruminate on it to the point of not sharing. Which leads to my next point …
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
― Ann Landers
I grew up in a single parent home with a mom battling depression. She, with the help of my family, made sure we had everything we needed while prioritizing a deep rooted relationship with Christ. I was blessed with a father who loved me and did the best he could to raise us from outside of our home, while focusing on his own ambitions. As a child, this was confusing and sometimes hard but, as an adult, I completely understand where he was in life. I had an amazing brother who toughened me up and taught me how to be a good loser. He always expected better and praised me when I did improve. He didn’t let boys treat me bad and this over time, supplied me self-worth. As for school, I grew up failing most of my classes and hating school. I felt excluded in private high school and cried every day in public school. I was mostly invisible to teachers except for my loving step mother who worked hard to get me into school every day. She was my outward motivation but I had no intrinsic motivation to go to school. In my mind I was stupid, ugly, fat, and weird. It was a very uncomfortable place in life for me. I felt stuck, dropped out, and attended adult education.
I had already loved psychology at this point and spent most of my free time trying to learn about schizophrenia. I realized I loved this subject, everything about it. After learning everything I could independently about schizophrenia, I moved on to learning about multiple personality disorder and depression. (This is when nobody used the internet, I was taking books out at the library.) Then someone told me about a place that was hiring. It was a private school for children who were mentally handicap. (The title “mentally handicap” was politically correct back then, now I would carefully say, special needs.) The timing and type of job was perfect for me. I loved it, everything about it. Though, there was still a part of me that didn’t feel good enough or smart enough and kinda weird. Those feelings did not stop me from doing my job but it did stop me from moving up in the chain of command. After 11 years, I eventually got to a point in my career where I was given responsibility over one child. While being responsible for that student we started off our days with violent tantrums showing very little interest in being independent, to eventually independently leading me. This took a lot of time, goal setting, blood, sweat, and most of all patience. Some may be bothered when their “student” leads them but, for me, this was an emotional tear worthy moment. That student started as a child with no motivation, like myself and grew into a women who was more motivated than the motivator. The job was a success and I was satisfied. After success, coincidentally I had also become a mother and my job was changing management, which meant I had to learn a whole new person’s vision and after 11 years of trying to learn another person’s vision, I was done. The job was out grown and it was time for me to grow like my student, who is now my motivator. I was off to college.
At this day in age it seems as if college is glorified more than the career itself. While college is at your fingertips, jobs are nearly impossible to find. Not all jobs, just the jobs that fit your passions. It is scary for myself, as a college student, to think about what will come of all my college debt. That doesn’t stop me, this unstoppableness may be a form of ignorance or false security but it still doesn’t stop me. The award winning neurosurgeon, Ben Carson said, “When you educate a man, you liberate a man,”(or women of course.) So, here I am being liberated and I am confident that the debt I am gaining will someday be worth it.
With all that, work for your passions and don’t stop! Persevere. It took 11 years for me to get to this point. It took Charles Hull 30 years to create the 3D printer and he can’t stop there. We can’t stop here. While your reaching for your goals, in the words of the Great Dylan Thomas, “Don’t go gentle…” To close I must say loudly, Don’t be a lady about fighting for your passions.
I write for my family. When I first started writing a few years ago, I was an anxious mess. After writing and learning to accept the many different aspects of myself in order to build honest characters, it made it much easier for me to understand those around me. I can listen with more intention. I can see when there is a miscommunication or when someone needs to define their terms.
The world becomes a weird place when you take the time to understand what makes us human. Well, at first it does. After a while the weird stuff becomes normal and you forget it’s weird stuff until someone looks at you funny for talking about the weird stuff. So when I noticed these things, I wanted to make sure my daughters were handed the weird place too. I hope they find some guidance in their weird place from mine.
There’s a lot of great reasons to write for your family. These are just a couple of mine but they keep me going
When you focus too much on tomorrow it takes away from today. If you took your time and slowly carved away at your words, that is true craftsmanship. You can’t rush art. You know what you have in mind. Put it together. Try it out. If that doesn’t work, it’s ok try another way.
The first draft of anything is shit.”— Ernest Hemingway
Writing doesn’t come out perfect on the first draft, if it did everyone would be a writer. (Well, I think everyone is a writer but that’s for another day.) A huge part of being a writer is editing your work. That is the art of writing. So if you know what you want to change and edit, you are already on the right path.
I would advise any beginning writer to write the first drafts as if no one else will ever read them — without a thought about publication -and only in the last draft to consider how the work will look from the outside. — Anne Tyler
I love how you poured everything into these new ideas. It shows courage. It shows you’re in this for the long term. You’re no quitter when you let everything hang loose in your first draft. Now it’s time to let it all unfold in flames and into your story.
I think the trouble starts when you sit down to write and imagine that you will achieve something magical and magnificent — and when you don’t, panic sets in. The solution is never to sit down and imagine that you will achieve something magical and magnificent. — Malcolm Gladwell
Don’t give up now. If you’re feeling like quitting, accept the thought but don’t dance with it. Think of negative small talk as background noise rather than allowing it to become a suggestion. You created something that came straight from inside your head and placed it on paper. You’re exactly where you need to be right now. Just keep going. Keep taking it one day at a time. You can do this.
“Every first draft is perfect because all the first draft has to do is exist. It’s perfect in its existence. The only way it could be imperfect would be to NOT exist.” ― Jane Smiley
Well, that contradicts the first quote but I agree. The first draft it is not meant to live up to impossible expectations. It’s meant to come alive and that is just the beginning of it all.
Be brave enough to do in your writing what you do in your imagination. Technique and skill are important but it’s also important to take your readers on the truest adventures inside your head. Be honest about who you are. The conflicting, raw, misfit you. Your work should make you blush sometimes.
Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.― Shannon L. Alder
Don’t place you imagination in a box to prioritize others exceptions. Show your courage, let your imagination run wild on the page. It’s one thing to edit for understanding and focus but you can do it in a way that lets your quirks live in your work. Who are you as a writer? Can we see that in your writing?
For me, I just want to be myself without fear when I write. I want to show up with my run-on sentences and internal dialogue that could drive a sane man to drink while bringing the thinkers home.
As writers, we are already courageous by choosing this career. Might as well be brave within ourselves too.
Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof. — Khalil Gibran
We are left here alone to create, to edit, to choose the choices our characters decide to take. Someone has to trust in us. Someone has to believe we are going to get somewhere with this. So we, us writers, must do the believing. We must have faith in ourselves and our work even when no one else can see the value. Even when we have nothing to prove, we are at our best when we believe and have faith in ourselves.
“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” — Bill Copeland
When writers write a book, they have a goal for the characters in mind. Even if it’s not a concrete goal, even if it changes over time, they start with something. There was a time when I thought the goal would just come to me, but my teacher said, just make it up. And that stuck. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that myself. Anyways, I think this can be used in our real life. Don’t know exactly what goal to set? Make one up.
Your goals don’t have to be life changing goals when you just start out with goal setting. They can be anything from drinking the right amount of water everyday to going for a mile run every 3 days. Do anything that will propel you forward the way a writer would propel their character forward. The writer can’t wait for inspiration. They start propelling the character right away. So don’t wait around, propel yourself toward something.
I’m afraid of becoming an egotistical asshole if I sell too many books. Even though I very much want to sell my books. I also don’t want to feel like I have something to prove financially. I would be proud to be independent. To be a writer making enough to pay the bills. I just don’t want that to hinder my view of others. I don’t want to forget my struggle or my humanity. And lastly, I don’t want to lose appreciation for other writers. I want to be understanding and gentle and loving. I don’t want to snub someone because I’m a well paid writer and they aren’t.
There’s a thin line between discipline and chaos, between empathy and narcissism. The line is so thin in fact, that we can cross it without realizing it until we step away from a situation. Or until someone calls us out on our behavior. Yes, we all make mistakes. We all hurt the people we love most. And what’s important is to be accountable and honest when we mess up.
I don’t think this fear holds me back. And Freud would probably suggest the only thing holding me back is my childhood drowning. Either way, I’m getting closer and closer to selling my book and the shadow is growing. But I’m not going to let it stop me. I’m gong to sell my book whether I’m scared shitless or not.
What helps me when I afraid is to list the reasons why stepping through a particular fear is beneficial. So I thought I’d share some reasons why you should sell your book….