Thursday, November 22, 2012

Commitment

First, a Happy Thanksgiving wish! If you're in the mood for poetry, enjoy Kelly Fineman's take on holiday feasts.

Two pieces I've read recently spoke about the need for commitment in writing:

"On the side I was also pursuing my dream to become a writer. Key words: on the side. ... when push came to shove, other obligations always took precedence over my writing."
"If I was going all in with my writing, then I needed to keep an open mind about different strategies, be willing to try new things, and quit thinking I was an expert."
--Jody Casella at YA Outside the Lines

"But the hardest reason of all not to write is the feeling that we’ve lost faith in our stories or in ourselves and our own abilities to tell them. And that is the true turning point, the most important choice you’ll face in your writing life: when you reach that crisis-point, do you abandon your unfinished story in favor of another shiny-new idea? Or do you keep plugging away, even when everything right down to the basic premise of your book seems flawed, and you’re certain it will never be worthy of being read by any eyes but yours?"
--Anna Elliott at Writer Unboxed

Jody Casella talks about the need for commitment to start a writing career, and Anna Elliott describes the commitment needed to keep it going. I've experienced this myself in my writing life. I, too, wrote "on the side" for many years, and really didn't put writing on the front burner until 2003. I still have a day job; what the front burner meant to me was dialing back on other hobbies, watching less TV, and not writing just when I felt like it, but coming to the writing desk every day. Taking classes, going to conferences with a professional emphasis, researching agents.

As for the commitment to keep plugging away at a story even after it has lost its shiny novelty: I have been there, too. I have many days where I don't know what to do with a story, where I just can't see around the next curve, so it looks more like a dead end. But sometimes a writer's main virtue is in just not giving up. There are so many writer tools and tips that there's always something else to try. And stories have that miraculous quality of looking slightly different each time we read them, of presenting new footholds.

Not everyone has to write every day. And not every story has to be written to completion. But we all know what commitment means to us, what it feels like to jump off the diving board instead of just dangling a foot over the edge. The rewards don't usually come immediately, which is one reason that committing to writing can be so difficult. But they do come, often in unexpected packages.

4 comments:

  1. This is really fantastic. Nothing happened for me until I really committed, and it's something I have to keep working on.

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    1. What's that saying--anything worth having is worth working for? It rings true!

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  2. This has been on my mind lately, especially since I've been working on my WIP for Nanowrimo. Since I'm already impossibly behind, I have to keep pushing myself just to keep writing, even if I know I won't finish within the time frame.

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    1. The beauty of NaNo is that even if you don't hit your exact word count goal, you finish the month with many more words than you started. Which is an achievement any way you look at it.

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