WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
One of the most difficult choices for writers is deciding what to write. The reasons why this is true are varied, and according to some experts, complex. But if a writer digs internally rather than externally, that reason might be transparent.
Writers have a tough time deciding what to write because they have broad interests.
I’ve met very few writers who have narrow interests. I don’t know if it’s an unstated requirement for a career novelist or just one of those things that many of us have in common. And yet it makes perfect sense.
We write because we have something to say we want others to hear. So what makes us have something to say?
Emotional engagement. Experiences. A desire to share. We get focused on something that fires our enthusiasm and we’re off!
That ignition might be positive–we discover purpose that is a result of something good we want others to know–or something negative–we survived something or experience an injustice that we want addressed so others can avoid that same mud puddle. It’ll be known or dried up and no longer exist.
That’s purpose. And purpose is fuel to the fire of passion. They feed off each other, building momentum, and that gives the writer added endurance, added drive, added ambition, added determination.
It takes all of those things and more to build a career as a novelist. It’s hard to “break in.” It’s hard to “stay in.” It’s hard to “move up.” It’s harder to “stay up.”
That’s something many writers don’t realize. Too many believe that if they can just sell that first book, they’ll be on their way. It’ll be easy after that. The truth is it’s never easy. At any level the author is greeted by new challenges. More challenges. More restrictions. More…
This seems to surprise some authors, but those with a business background recognize it going in, and that is an advantage. If you’re new, you have to work hard to establish a foothold. If you’ve got that foothold, you need to climb the ladder rungs. If you climb, you need to keep moving higher. If you’re highest, you need to stay highest. It doesn’t end. There is never a time when “more” isn’t expected, hoped for, demanded.
Those expectations and demands make it essential that the author stays motivated and exercises discipline. Both are abundantly required. And yet the foundation for them–that ignition–isn’t found in superficial things. Money, for example, is never enough.
Why? Because writing isn’t a career, it’s a life. It’s a way of seeing the world, what’s in it, and interpreting it for others who aren’t seeing it, or who are focused elsewhere and not looking.
You might have a deep desire to entertain and an intense need to raise awareness. You might have experienced something wonderful or terrible; seen something significant that you’ve not heard much about otherwise. You’ll feel driven, compelled to write a story.
This isn’t as simple as enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is wonderful, but typically around the end of chapter three, it fades and the rest of the book is work. So after that initial burst, what keeps an author in the chair writing?
Purpose. The need to see the project done, to know one has done what they could to do justice to something. It can take a million forms–and change during the course of the writing, as the author’s intense focus brings new insights and perspectives. Purpose picks up when the bloom falls off the enthusiasm rose.
Interest fuels purpose, and purpose fuels passion.