Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Five reasons to keep writing

We've all been there – staring at a blank page wondering what the hell we're going to write on it, or worse, why the hell we're even trying in the first place. A novel or a play can take years of effort and without recognition or appreciation sometimes writing the thing can start to feel like a waste of a good life. Sometimes it's hard to remember why you do it. Here are some reminders.

Your own peace of mind

Writing for yourself shouldn't be the only reason you put pen to paper - after all the very act of writing pre-supposes a reader – but the fact is that the majority of the time spent 'being a writer' involves you sitting alone writing, so there has to be a considerable amount of satisfaction you derive from it otherwise you're not going to find the energy or the motivation to keep on.

Maybe you have a burning story you just have to tell, maybe you're so appalled by the books you read that you know you can write better; perhaps you just love creating worlds or characters, or maybe you just love the idea of being a writer – whatever your personal motivation is don't forget it – especially in those darker moments of doubt. Deep down we know it's all about the reader at the end of the day, but let's not forget the writer, because without them there would be nothing to read.

Your (potential) readers

When you're sitting on a pile of rejections, when your writing group massacres your every word, when even your own mother is saying 'dear, isn't it about time you got a proper job?' it's hard to imagine that anyone, anywhere will ever read for pleasure anything you write. But don't let yourself forget that they, those potential readers, are why you are doing this. Even if that potential reader is just you, make sure you write what you'd want to read – if you write what you'd love to read, then you can guarantee a readership of at least one, and you can also guarantee that if you love it, someone else will too. People want good stuff to read – that's why you do it.

You will keep getting better

No matter how bad you are at anything, if you keep doing it, you will get better. Same goes for writing. If anything, the worse you are now the better you will get – you've got so much more room for improvement. And here's another thing, the tougher your journey is, the more skilled you will become. Don't envy those people who pour out riveting and beautiful writing like a gift from the gods, pity them – because one day the muse will stop and they won't know how to string a sentence together but you will, because you learned to do it the hard way.

You will never regret it

You will never regret trying for something but you will always regret not trying or giving up. Imagine yourself on your deathbed looking back on your life saying 'I'm so glad I gave up writing that novel so I could concentrate on my office admin career. How very fulfilling.' Doesn't sound right, does it? How about this – 'I wrote fifty two novels and not one of them got published, but hell, I tried. And besides, I bet after I snuff it I'll become a bestseller.' Sounds better, right?

Rejection is not failure

Rejection is just some chump who thinks they know all about writing giving you a bad day. Here's something to remember, if they really knew all about writing why the hell aren't they doing it?

Because they don't know how to.

Rejection is as big a deal as you want to make of it. Sure, you may have been rejected because what you wrote was atrocious, but it's just as likely that the person who rejected you didn't even read it.

You write to turn you and your readers on, knowing you will get better at it, knowing that you will never regret it and laughing in the face of failure. When you put it like that, why would you ever want to give up?


  1. Another fabulous post,James. Never giving up is an important message, and rejection should never be taken personally - I would have drowned in Baileys if I did!

    Take care, Hemmie

  2. Great post and reminders, James. Love "You'll never regret it" - I've had that thought on occasion. It doesn't matter if we succeed as long as we give it our best effort. See, this is why I read every one of your posts, excellent content!

  3. Agree with everything you say - except aren't rejections terribly passé? Why not use your energy to self-publish, and attract the agents to you? (If you still want one, that is.) You will also save a lot in paper, ink cartridges and stamps.

  4. Thanks for this post. Writing is one of those endeavors that requires a single-minded disregard of all that seems to be against us. :)

  5. @Thanks Hem, good to hear from you. Hope your editing is going well, and let us know when I can buy the book.

    @Gene thanks Gene, glad my posts continue to work for you - thanks for your continued support.

    @Lexi - hey, Lexi, how's things? Yep, I agree with you re. self-publishing and appreciate the success you've had. I don't comment on self-publishing as I have next to no experience of it but have often thought it would be cool to do an interview with you about your route to publication for my blog. Did I ever tell you it was your blog that actually inspired me to get my own one up and running?

    @kathryn and thanks for taking the time to read and comment - it means a lot.

  6. Great post, James. I think the 'regret' paragraph resonates most with me. Procrastination and excuses can often be an aspiring writer's worst enemy and to never have tried seems like the worst kind of sin. All good stuff - thanks.

  7. Lovely post. Sometimes, when I'm sitting there and the words won't come, I remind myself that it's better than watching bad television :-)

  8. @Russell - Hi Russell - glad you liked the post. Nice to hear from a prolific blogger like yourself. Keep up the good work on 'In Search of a Life Less Ordinary' and thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    @Sarah - Hey Sarah - yes, writing is better than a lot of things - but it's amazing what you can learn from watching bad TV (mmm, feels like a blog post!). Thanks for commenting, and welcome to the blog.

  9. Lovely post. Thanks for the kick in the pants. :D


  10. This is one of those posts I'll return to when I need a boost in motivation. I need a list like this when discouragement sets in--thanks!

  11. @Martina - hey, Martina, thanks for taking the time to post - I know you're a busy girl. Glad you liked it.

    @Cheryl - thanks Cheryl, you know you're more than welcome to come back anytime!